- Profile of a coupe
- Driving dynamics of a sport sedan
- Snug, supportive front seats
- Rich interior appointments
- Tight backseat
- Smallish cargo space
- Poor outward visibility, even with the cameras
- Engine noise
The 2014 Infiniti QX50 has the performance (and attitude) of a sport sedan, along with rich, warm cabin appointments and standout tech; but compared to almost any other crossover its interior isn't very useful behind the front seats.
The 2014 Infiniti QX50 may wear a new badge, but it's a familiar shape. For the past few years, it's been the compact crossover in the Infiniti lineup, sold under the EX nameplate. Now that Infiniti's switched to a "QX" badge for its crossovers and SUVs, the QX50 stakes out a claim in the putative middle of the lineup.In size and shape, the QX50 is roughly in the template of a number of other compact luxury crossover vehicles, such as the Acura RDX, the Lexus RX 350, Cadillac SRX, and BMW X3. But what makes the EX a bit different is that it's essentially a tall wagon, built on true sport-sedan underpinnings. There's no effort to be rugged or trail-friendly--definitely less of an effort to maximize interior space and versatility as well. It overdelivers on responsiveness, driving dynamics, and decidedly non-crossover looks, while offering an intimate cabin look and feel that feels anything but mass-market.
In style and performance, the QX50 is a very satisfying vehicle. It's exceptionally well-proportioned and confounds the expectations of some blandness in utility. The rakish roofline and pert proportions hardly look like those of a crossover. The coupe-like profile and organic sheetmetal altogether make the EX one of the best-looking tall wagons yet, and beautiful from some angles. 'Coupe-like' also applies inside, where a cockpit-style layout wraps around the driver. There's a wide center stack, big LCD screen, and perhaps a few too many buttons and secondary controls. But soft, warm interior appointments and rich tones give this interior an elegant, refined look, with soft-white lighting, fine leather, and real wood inlays.
With a version of the company's stout 3.7-liter V-6, making 325 horsepower and 267 pound-feet, the QX50 is never short on power. It's still matched to an excellent seven-speed automatic transmission, with quick shifts, steering-wheel paddles, and throttle-blip-style rev-matching on downshifts. The engine and transmission work well together, with an eagerness that's uncommon in this kind of vehicle. Handling and body control aren't quite as great as those of the Q50 sedan (formerly G37) on which the QX50 is based, but they're impressive for a crossover, and steering weighting and feedback are far better than what you'll find in other such vehicles.
Ride quality is good here--firm but compliant--and the independent suspension hits the ideal balance of smoothness and athleticism. Engine noise is surprisingly present, though, with coarse sounds and some vibration from the 3.7-liter engine as it sings into the higher revs--more so than the 3.5-liter predecessor that was used in the EX as recently as a couple of model years ago. It's thirsty, too; highway ratings go up 1 mpg, to 17/25 mpg with rear-wheel drive or 17/24 with AWD.
The personality of the QX50 changes a bit as you add all-wheel drive; you'll lose a little of the nimble feel but earn some all-weather tractability--although churning through snow or mud isn't really the point.
Interior space is where the packaging of the QX50 reveals this model's true intent. While it carries driver and passenger with verve, in snug, well-bolstered front seats, anyone who needs to sit in the back seat isn't going to be nearly as content. It's one of the tightest we've experienced in this kind of vehicle, with headroom and legroom lacking, and the sloping rear window and high cargo floor limit cargo space and usability.
The Infiniti EX earns 'good' ratings in frontal and roof strength tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but it has neither side nor small overlap frontal ratings, and the federal government hasn't yet tested this model.
But there's plenty else to impress, including an extensive suite of active-safety features that are still somewhat unusual in this class. Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Intelligent Brake Assist, Blind Spot Warning are all included in a Technology Package, while 360-degree Around View Monitoring system is part of the Premium Package--and, we think, necessary because rearward visibility is so limited.
Four models of the 2014 Infiniti QX50 are offered: QX50, QX50 AWD, QX50 Journey, and QX50 Journey AWD. Leather seating, push-button start, a power-folding second row, a moonroof, a universal garage-door opener, power steering-column adjustment, and heated front seats are all part of the standard-equipment set. A Premium Package steps up to Bose premium audio, navigation with real-time traffic, and aluminum roof rails, while many of those safety-tech features are included with Intelligent Cruise Control as part of a Technology Package. The QX50 got a rather significant $2,500 price cut versus the EX, so it all adds up to a much better value than before.