- Sport-sedan handling
- Shape's still sleek
- A richly appointed cabin
- Supportive front seats
- Finally, a more usable back seat
- Cargo space behind the second row is small
- Engine noise
- No paddle shift controls
- Even with surround-view cameras, visibility isn't great
The 2017 Infiniti QX50 puts handling atop the SUV priority list, but that's not as wrong as it sounds.
The Infiniti QX50 has been around, in one form or the other, for a decade. It's still here thanks to strong fundamentals: there are bits and pieces of Q50s and 370Zs under its skin, and that gives it an engaging feel that's still head and shoulders above some its its key rivals.
It returns for its 10th model year in just two forms, as the rear-drive QX50 or as the all-wheel-drive QX50 AWD.
Last year the QX50 added much-needed length between its wheels, along with a slew of new safety features. For the 2017 model year, changes are few: the QX50 gains a 19-inch wheel-and-tire package, and that's about it.
The QX50 earns a TCC Rating of 7.2 overall slightly above average for its class. We love its handling and its general sport-sedan tenor, and the back seat's finally big enough for us to consider being driven, for a change.
On the down side, it's an older design that lacks some key features and refinements of the best vehicles in its class—vehicles like the Benz GLC and BMW X3. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Infiniti QX50 styling and performance
The QX50 doesn't have much SUV in its profile; it's very nearly a shooting brake, with its sloping roofline and low stance. The coupe-like profile and organic sheet metal make it one of the best-looking tall wagons yet, still quite handsome from most angles. "Coupe-like" also applies inside, where a cockpit-style layout wraps around the driver, surrounding them in soft, warm interior appointments.
Built on a legit sport-sedan architecture, the QX50 over-delivers on responsive road manners. Acceleration is strong with its 325-hp V-6 and 7-speed automatic. Oddly, it lacks shift paddles that come with the same transmission in other applications, and the long-lived engine is loud and relatively unrefined for a luxury vehicle. Fuel economy isn't great, either, at 20 mpg combined.
The QX50 stays contemporary with a smooth ride and sweet handling. The longer wheelbase that arrived last year contributes to a smoother ride, and old-school hydraulic steering responds naturally, with not a little bit of heft. The QX50 gets a bit duller with add all-wheel drive; it loses a little of the nimble feel but earn some all-weather tractability, although churning through snow or mud isn't really the point.
Infiniti QX50 comfort, safety, and features
Where the QX50 has matured is in its back seat. What was once a cramped, adult-unfriendly space is now fine and suitable for 6-footers, front and back. There's more interior space, more rear-seat knee room, a slightly higher ride height (which makes access easier), and an available power-raise function for the fold-down rear seat. Cargo space is a little better than before, too.
The QX50 hasn't been crash-tested fully in a long time, but it now offers a standard rearview camera, optional surround-view cameras and parking sensors, and a host of active-safety touches from lane-departure warnings and blind-spot monitors, to forward-collision alerts with automatic braking on the most expensive models.
All QX50s come with power features; cruise control; automatic climate control; satellite radio; Bluetooth; and leather upholstery. For all that, it's lacking some luxury touches you can find on pretty much every other rival: there's no ventilation for the seats, and no power tailgate offered at all.
Finally, on the infotainment front, the QX50 has a 7.0-inch color display with a dash-mounted controller. Optional hard drive-based navigation brings with it a touchscreen display, but in any form, the system has a dated, lower-resolution look than its best-equipped rivals. It's a puzzle why Infiniti didn't adopt the new dual-screen setup from the Q50.
2017 INFINITI QX50
The recent stretch gives the Infiniti QX50 better proportions, and the cockpit still looks good after all these years.
There's not much crossover or SUV in the Infiniti QX50's shape, and we heartily approve. Not every sport-ute needs the ultra-butch look; the QX50's bubbly hatchback profile has endured 10 model years and still looks attractive and fresh, even with a few inches added between its wheels and to its doors.
We think the QX50's worth an 8 when it comes to styling. The profile still gives us pause, and the cabin's still competitively laid out and lush with nice, harmonious finishes. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Built as it is on sport-sedan hardware, the QX50 uses that frame of reference to build a shape that fits right in with the Q50 sedan and the bulbous QX70 utility vehicle. It's by nature a tall-roofed wagon, but somehow the QX50 still looks low, thanks to some nifty visual tricks and surfacing below the beltline. Big wheel wells and widely flared fenders taper into an arching roofline, all blending together to give it a bit more of a coupe look than most of its rivals.
Last year's stretching exercises brought some new, nuanced details to the party: a redrawn grille, new LED fog lights and daytime running lights, and new door mirrors with LED turn signals. Around back, the QX50 gained a new rear bumper; restyled 18- and 19-inch wheels; and a ride height raised by 0.8 inches.
The QX50's cabin is streamlined like that in a sport sedan. The contours are quite soft, and the cockpit-style layout wraps into a wide center stack a big LCD screen and secondary controls. The instruments come across as elegant and refined in their soft-white lighting, and the wood and leather wear matte finishes.
It's a tasteful environment, low-key in its luxury. For anyone that feels it's too austere, available maple trim can warm up things a bit.
2017 INFINITI QX50
The QX50 rides and handles well; we'd pay for shift paddles and a filter for some drivetrain noise.
The QX50 puts gutsy acceleration and sporty handling high on its priority list. It's so successful at translating the feel of cars that share its platform—the Q50 sedan and Nissan 370Z—that we tend to think of it as an SUV in name only, more of a tall hatchback in the way it tackles the road.
We're giving the 2017 QX50 a score of 7 for its deft handling, and its well-sorted ride. It could be less vocal in some ways, and a set of paddle shift controls would be great, but otherwise the QX50 scores very well in the spectrum of road-biased all-wheel-drive luxowagons. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The QX50 performs with an eagerness that you wouldn't normally find in this segment, shy of BMW's turbocharged inline-6. Having a bigger back seat doesn't kill off the driving joy, and in that sense the QX50 feels a lot like BMW's most recent X3.
Power is rarely the issue, thanks to Infiniti's version of the long-running Nissan VQ V-6. In this instance, it's a 3.7-liter V-6 rated at 325 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. It's an older design, and that means it's behind the curve on refinement. There's just way too much engine noise in the cabin for a luxury vehicle. You hear it reassuringly when you're accelerating, but you also hear it when you'd rather not. The big V-6 wants to be pushed hard—peak power and torque arrive high in its rev band—and by that point the V-6 sounds bored and cranky.
A 7-speed automatic transmission blips the throttle on downshifts, making it a swell match for the V-6. The transmission has its part down pat; there's a sport mode for slightly quicker shifts. But it lacks paddle shift controls, and in normal drive mode, it's a maddening reach to the shift lever to change gears manually.
Handling and body control aren't quite as great as those of the Q50 sedan on which the QX50 is based, but they're impressive for a crossover SUV. Steering weighting and feedback are far better than what you'll find in other such vehicles. The steering's actually quite heavy compared to the feel in some rivals—it's still hydraulic assist, not electric, so while it's hefty off-center, it doesn't dither or lose its sight on straight ahead like those digital racks.
Ride quality is good here—firm, but compliant—and the independent suspension hits the ideal balance of smoothness and athleticism. If anything, it's gotten more calm, thanks to the wheelbase stretch (it helps damp out bumps better), slightly more forgiving spring rates and damping, and lighter-weight wheels that don't transmit so much harshness into the cabin.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the QX50 with sport-sedan decisiveness, and there's no excess dive or body motion despite being a bit higher off the ground this year (by 0.8 inches). We've found that versions with the optional all-wheel-drive system don't feel quite as inspired; they don't handle with quite the level of awesome precision as rear-wheel-drive models, and they're a bit slower to boot.
2017 INFINITI QX50
Comfort & Quality
Its rear-seat blues have been cured; now the Infiniti QX50 just needs a bit less volume.
The QX50 grew into its category last year. Before that, it had been a shorter-wheelbase vehicle with a decidedly cramped back seat.
For the 2016 model year, Infiniti simply adopted the Chinese-market QX50's longer body, and presto—the crossover SUV slid neatly into its intended size class.
As a result, this year, we're giving it a score of 8 for comfort, utility, and quality. The QX50 earns points for its good front and back seats and good cargo storage, like most SUVs. It can't really seat 5 as is stated on the Monroney, and fit and finish are good but not exceptional, so those points stay in our ratings vault. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
In our last drive of the revamped QX50, we came away with mostly favorable impressions of its upsized cockpit. The front seats offer passengers well-shaped chairs good for long-distance travel, with just enough snug bolstering to tackle curvy roads. The seating position is a bit higher than in some crossover utility vehicles, so the QX50 has a bit of the bus-driver feel at the controls, made more pronounced by the short range of the telescoping steering wheel.
The QX50 has ample storage space in front, with a wide center console, but its door-side pockets aren't deep enough to hold a water bottle, and the cupholders aren't spaced widely enough to carry a pair of two grande mochas.
The back-seat gains make up for those minor quibbles. The QX50 is some 3.2 inches longer between the wheels than in its previous body style. Reshaped front seatbacks carve out more leg room for rear passengers, and Infiniti touts 3.9 inches more knee room in the back seat than in the pre-2016 QX50. Our colloquial measurements make it clearer: Six-footers can now ride comfortably behind 6-footers.
Cargo and storage space
In back, the QX50 has 18.3 cubic feet of storage space behind the second row; folding it down is as easy as touching a button mounted in the cargo area on either side of the tailgate opening. When the rear seats are folded down, the QX50 has about 50 cubic feet of space, up 2.7 cubic feet—and when it's time to reset the seats for passengers, it's just another tap of those buttons or a pair of switches on the center console, to power-raise the seatbacks into their passenger seating mode.
There are some oddities on the convenience front. The QX50 has an integrated coat hanger on some trim levels, built into the driver headrest—but it lacks a power tailgate, a standard feature on most rivals. There's no ventilation option for its front seats, either.
It does come with standard leather trim, and choices of metallic or maple wood trim. There's no lack of soft-touch trim, and the QX50's cabin is quite nicely finished. The only thing that's missing, we think, is a little extra insulation from engine noise.
2017 INFINITI QX50
We're abstaining on a safety rating for the QX50 due to a lack of recent crash-test scores.
Standard safety equipment in the QX50 includes dual front, side, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction and stability control; and a rearview camera.
Infiniti offers surround-view cameras, which stitch together images to provide a 360-degree view of obstacles when in reverse gear. It's a useful option because visibility is so limited by the dramatic rear-end styling. The cameras are included in a $2,000 Premium Plus package, while a host of new safety technology—from lane-departure warnings to forward-collision warnings and automatic braking—are a $2,750 Technology package option.
Those features are good additions to the long-lived QX50, but in terms of crash-test data, it's lacking.
The IIHS has assigned some scores to the luxury crossover. In its current form, the QX50 merits "Good" scores on a handful of tests, including the moderate front-overlap crash test. However, the industry-funded group hasn't rated the QX50 for small-overlap crash safety, side impact, or roof strength.
Federal regulators at the NHTSA haven't tested the QX50 for several years, and it seems likely they never will considering the limited sales of the luxury SUV.
The lack of recent crash-test data means we'll abstain on rating the QX50, since most of our score is compiled from those two agency databases. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
2017 INFINITI QX50
Some luxury touches are absent, but the QX50 is mostly well-appointed.
For 2017, the Infiniti QX50 comes in just two versions, one with rear-drive and the other with all-wheel drive. Pricing hasn't been announced yet for the new model year; last year's SUV sold for $35,445, or $36,845 with all-wheel drive.
We give the QX50 a score of 7 for its good assortment of standard and optional features, and for good dealer service. Infiniti built its business case around excellent customer relations and it continues to this day, with concierge-style handling, if not the valet service now offered by Hyundai's fledgling Genesis brand.
We're knocking it a point, however, for its dated infotainment system. Infiniti's Q50 sedan has a new dual-screen infotainment setup, while the QX50 soldiers on with a lower-resolution screen, less data-rich mapping and information services, and a more fiddly set of piano-style hard keys. The QX50 also lacks features like a power tailgate and ventilated seats. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Most of the expected luxury car features come standard on the QX50. It has power features; heated leather seats; a sunroof; keyless ignition; and a universal garage door opener.
In an inexpensive Premium package, the QX50 adds 11-speaker Bose audio; automatic climate control; memory seating; maple wood trim; power telescope/tilt steering; and roof rails. A new 19-inch wheel-and-tire package has been added for the 2017 model year.
The Premium Plus package adds navigation; surround-view cameras; and parking sensors. A Deluxe Touring package applies 19-inch wheels and 245/45-19 all-season tires; adaptive front lights; power lumbar adjustment for the driver seat; an integrated coat hanger on the driver's headrest; a power passenger front seat; and a power-folding second-row seat.
Finally, the Technology package adds forward-collision warnings with automatic braking; lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist; adaptive cruise control; and blind-spot monitors.
2017 INFINITI QX50
Fairly low gas mileage keeps the QX50 out of the big green leagues.
The 2017 Infiniti QX50 is a rare bird among crossover-type vehicles in that the EPA says there is no penalty for specifying the all-wheel drive model.
The QX50 comes in at 17 mpg city, 24 highway, 20 combined. That's in either configuration, with rear- or all-wheel drive, and that's not real impressive against rivals.
Numbers like those are why we assign the QX50 a green score of 6. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The QX50's gas mileage isn't simply low in its class. It's not much better than some three-row crossover SUVs, including those built by Infiniti. Compared with the shorter-wheelbase 2015 model, the latest QX50 is even less efficient, losing a mile per gallon on the highway cycle in rear-drive versions.
We lay the blame—and sometimes the credit—with the QX50's gutsy V-6 engine, as much as we do to the stretch in wheelbase and its resulting weight gain.