- Blend of performance and efficiency
- Beautiful, inside and out
- Advanced safety tech
- Adaptive steering isn't our favorite
- A CVT in a premium crossover?
- Dual-screen infotainment system
- Cheap-feeling center console
A beautiful tour de force of the latest automotive technology, the 2019 Infiniti QX50 has loads of potential.
The 2019 Infiniti QX50 discards its predecessor's awkward lines in favor of a new, more comfort-oriented positioning with a cutting-edge, turbocharged engine. It seats five passengers and squares off against the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, and Volvo XC60.
The 2019 QX50 discards the last model's V-6 in favor of a new 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. But this engine stands out with a world-first technology for a production vehicle—a variable compression ratio. Called the VC-Turbo, this engine can adjust its compression ratio—the ratio of fuel to air in the engine—on the fly, bouncing between a high-performance 8:1 and a more efficient 14:1. According to Infiniti, the technology gives its newest engine gas-powered performance with diesel- or hybrid-like fuel economy.
Infiniti has only released combined fuel economy figures: an EPA-estimated 27 mpg for front-wheel drive and 26 mpg for all-wheel drive. The VC-Turbo works alongside a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
ProPilot Assist, Infiniti parent company Nissan's suite of active safety and semi-autonomous driving systems, will be available in the QX50. Blending adaptive cruise control, forward collision warnings with front and rear automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, lane-departure warnings with active lane control, and Infiniti's drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering system, QX50 should make highway driving a cinch, reducing driver fatigue and increasing on-road safety.
The new engine rides atop an all-new Infiniti-specific platform that is said to provide a quieter driving experience with smarter packaging to provide more interior space. That means more room for passengers and cargo.
The QX50 offers a sliding second-row bench seat that provides up to 38.3 inches of legroom, a three-inch improvement over the 2017 first-generation model. Cargo volume expands from last year's 18.6 cubic feet with the second row up to a minimum of 31.1 cubes for the new model—total cargo volume with the second row folded is an impressive 64.4 cubic feet. And yet, the QX50 isn't much larger. At 74.9 inches wide and 66.1 inches tall, its 3.9 inches wider and 2.6 inches taller than last year's model, but importantly, at 184.8 inches long, it's a two full inches shorter than the awkward last generation.
The QX50's shapely body attaches the brand's latest design touches into a cohesive, stylish package. All the disparate elements from the past several years—the double-arch grille, the oddly styled C-pillar, and the unique hood shape—are cleaned up or toned down in just the right way.
But that's nothing compared to how it looks in the cabin. It's a lovely place, available with fine leather, soft synthetic suede, and touches of open-pore wood that make it feel much more premium than its predecessor. Quilted leather is available, and it's probably the best execution of the style in the segment.
But one small detail will let the new cabin down. The center console, which features the new shift-by-wire gear selector, is hard, untextured black plastic. It feels slapped on, like the designers expelled maximum effort on the rest of the cabin's surfaces and then ran out of gas when it came time to do the center console. We're also not crazy about Infiniti's double-stacked infotainment system, which features a pair of displays in place of more traditional controls.
Prices for the 2019 Infiniti QX50 will be announced closer to its on-sale date early next year.