Infiniti’s core competence over the past decade has been to deliver luxury sedans that are rewarding to drive, and that sporting personality comes through in the 2016 QX50 crossover. The standard 325-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 has always outgunned its class competitors, but now a longer wheelbase gives the QX50 enough backseat room to haul a pair of 6-foot-tall adults comfortably.
What Is It?
The QX50 is a midsize luxury crossover based on the chassis of the Q50 sedan. It differs from its competition because it looks more like a raised station wagon than an imposing SUV. It can trace its roots back to the 2008 Infiniti EX35, meaning this same basic model has been around for nine model years, a long time for any vehicle.
Sales of the old EX and current QX50 have not been strong, so for 2016, Infiniti has made a few changes to address some of its shortcomings. The QX50 is now 4.5 inches longer and rides on a 3.2-inch-longer wheelbase. That translates into a body that is no wider than before but has more room inside thanks to the additional space between the front and rear wheels.
There are now 4.3 inches of extra legroom in the backseat, which puts the QX’s rear-seat space on par with its competitors. The cargo capacity behind the rear seat remains the same at a relatively modest 18.6 cubic feet. Fold the rear seat down and there are 50.1 cubic feet available to stow gear, a slight improvement over the previous model.
What Else Has Changed?
The previous QX was low and sleek, like a sport wagon. This revised model is, too, but to give the QX a slightly more commanding presence, Infiniti raised the suspension by about an inch and revised the look slightly up front. It has a bolder grille as well as LED foglights, daytime running lights and turn signals in the door mirrors.
Under the hood is Infiniti’s smooth 3.7-liter V6 that delivers 325 hp at 7,000 rpm and 267 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm. It’s paired exclusively to a seven-speed automatic with manual shifting capability, as well as a Sport mode that provides quicker shifts and the ability to downshift when the transmission senses the driver needs a lower gear.
Unlike many of the QX’s front-drive-based rivals, all that thrust here is channeled to the rear wheels on the standard model. All-wheel drive costs an additional $1,400, and Infiniti expects that the majority of buyers will opt for it. The all-wheel-drive system is rear-drive-biased for improved performance on dry roads but can shift up to 50 percent of the power to the front wheels if the rears lose traction.
What Body Styles and Trim Levels Does It Come In?
The Infiniti QX50 is available only as a four-door crossover. And to make this new, larger QX50 more appealing than last year’s model, Infiniti has reduced the base price to $35,445. A power moonroof and heated front seats have also been added to the standard equipment list.
A $500 Premium package adds a Bose 11-speaker sound system as well as a memory driver seat, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, maple wood trim and more.
Another $2,000 brings the Premium Plus package with a 7-inch touchscreen, navigation system and the 360-degree around-view monitor with front and rear sonar parking alert system.
The Deluxe Touring package ($2,400) upgrades from 18-inch wheels and 225/55R18 all-season tires to 19-inch wheels and 245/45R19 all-season tires. The group also includes HID adaptive front lighting, eight-way power passenger seats and more.
Many of the most desirable options are bundled into the $2,750 Technology package and include intelligent cruise control, blind spot warning, lane departure warning and prevention and forward collision warning.
Check every one of these option boxes and a loaded all-wheel-drive QX50 will sticker for $44,935. That’s about the same price as the well-equipped competitive luxury crossovers in the QX50’s class.
How Does It Drive?
The QX50 sits a few inches lower than its competitors. Combined with the carlike layout of the cabin, it makes the driving position feel more like a sedan than a crossover. You get the same feeling on the road, as the QX has the sturdy feel of an athletic vehicle.
The steering is very direct and precise but it’s also rather heavy at lower speeds. The increased ride height means the suspension will roll slightly when you’re driving aggressively, yet the QX always feels composed and nimble. It’s a quiet place to spend time, too, especially when driven through rough urban terrain.
The V6 creates a wonderfully satisfying sound to match its thrust as you near its 7,000-rpm power peak. It makes you really want to drive this crossover hard. And unlike some of the QX’s competitors that can feel slow off the line, the response from this V6 is always immediate and crisp. Slide the transmission over to Sport mode and it will expertly downshift as you enter a corner, putting you in the right gear to fully enjoy the engine’s power. Fun? It can be, yes.
How Does It Rate in Terms of Interior Comfort?
Slide behind the wheel of the QX50 and the cabin does feel a little dated. That’s not surprising considering everything you see and touch has been around since 2008. The interior just isn’t as wide or airy-feeling as some in this Infiniti’s class.
Similarly, the 7-inch navigation screen that was perfectly acceptable and even large five or six years ago seems small today. But despite the Infiniti’s age, all the leathers, woods and soft padding in the QX feel luxurious.
The additional legroom in the rear seat makes it a very comfortable place to ride, even for taller passengers. The only drawback here is that the roof line slopes down slightly at the back of the window, so taller riders might need to mind the low clearance.
Our loaded test vehicle had a wide array of features like an optional coat hanger that folds down from the back of the driver seat to hold your suit jacket. Perhaps even more helpful for those who will use the QX as a utility vehicle is the power-folding rear seat. This feature allows the seats not only to be lowered to load large packages from the rear, but also raised back up with the push of a button in the center console.
What Kind of Mileage Does It Deliver?
Both rear-drive QX50s and all-wheel-drive models are rated to deliver 20 mpg in combined driving (17 city/24 highway). This fuel economy rating is a bit lower than some of the Infiniti’s competitors. For instance, an all-wheel-drive Lexus NX 200t returns 24 mpg combined and the Acura RDX with all-wheel drive is rated to deliver 22 mpg combined.
What Are Its Closest Competitors?
The Acura RDX doesn’t handle quite as well as the Infiniti, but it offers more interior room overall. Like the Infiniti, the RDX comes with a V6 engine only, although it gets slightly better mileage than the QX.
Introduced just last year is the Lexus NX 200t luxury crossover. It sits tall and packs a turbocharged four-cylinder engine under its hood. The Lexus has more rear-seat legroom but less cargo capacity than the QX50. Lexus also offers a hybrid version of the NX as well, if you’re interested in maximum mileage.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
It’s one of the most rewarding crossovers to drive, and the sleek design backs that up. The longer wheelbase now makes the QX a legitimate five-passenger vehicle.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
As nicely as the QX50 drives, it feels old. Slide into just about any other competitor’s crossover in this size class and it will feel more modern. The Infiniti isn’t lacking equipment or technology. It’s just presented in a way that’s a bit outdated.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.