- Driving dynamics of a sport sedan
- Profile of a coupe
- Rich interior appointments
- Snug, supportive front seats
- Smallish cargo space
- Tight back seat
- Engine noise
- Poor outward visibility, even with the cameras
The 2015 Infiniti QX50 isn't as useful as many of its competitors, but it's more fun to drive–and comes with a handsome, well-appointed interior.
Called the EX37 just last model year, the Infiniti QX50 is one of the most driver-focused crossovers on the market today. However, many of the same attributes that make it that also make it one of the least practical in its competitive set.
The 2015 Infiniti QX50 looks the part of a crossover with its tall-ish ride height and lift-gate design—not unlike the Cadillac SRX, Lexus RX 350, and Acura RDX—but the truth of the matter is that the QX50 is actually a tall wagon built on a legitimate sports-sedan chassis. It's not trail-friendly or rugged, nor is it terribly utilitarian or spacious—but it does overdeliver on driving dynamics, responsiveness, and decidedly non-crossover looks. Plus, its cabin feels like that of a full-fledged luxury car.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.