AFTER A YEAR HIATUS, QX50 RETURNS WITH NEW ENGINE, NEW PLATFORM, NEW LOOK
After taking a year off, the Infiniti QX50 is back as a 2019 model, a little bit shorter but wider and taller than its predecessor with a new interior, a more fuel-efficient, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, and generous cargo space as it moves into its second generation under the QX nameplate. (The first QX50 in 2014 was essentially an update of the EX series introduced in 2008.)
The result is a midsize luxury crossover that offers buyers a quality alternative in a very popular segment.
With an all-new platform, the 2019 QX50 is offered with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive in three trim levels dubbed Pure, Luxe, and Essential. (You have to wonder how they came up with these names.)
All are equipped with a 2.0-liter VC Turbo-4 (for Variable Compression) that generates 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque while delivering fuel economy numbers of 24 miles-per-gallon city, 31 highway and 27 combined in FWD and 24/30/26 with AWD.
That’s less horsepower but more torque and better fuel mileage than the 2017 model that had a 3.7-liter V6 under the hood. That engine pumped out 325 hp but only 267 lb.-ft. of torque while drinking fuel at the rate of 17/24/20 mpg.
The improved torque is what gives the 2019 model a rather peppy performance for its class, though that you have to suspect that it is somewhat held back by the continuously variable transmission.
It does have a DS (Sport) mode and features a manual shift mode that works like a regular 7-speed transmission if you want to shift gears yourself. But a 7-speed (or 6) would be better.
The new QX50 is 184.7 inches long compared to the 2017’s length of 186.6, but stands taller (66 inches) and wider (74.9). The 2017 is less than 63 inches tall without roof rails and only 71 inches wide.
There is less leg room up front (39.6 on the 2019, 44.3 on the 2017) but more in the back (38.7 to 35.3).
Designers gave the 2019 QX50 a bolder look with a long, clamshell hood that is made to appear even longer by the slanted A pillar. The front fascia features LED headlights and LED daytime running lights. The top two trims (Luxe and Essential) also get LED fog lights as standard.
The interior, in a word, is beautiful. Infiniti calls it the finest interior it has ever created, and it’s hard to argue with that. The cabin is packed with high-grade materials with leatherette-appointed seats on Pure and Luxe trims. The Essential trim gets full leather as standard with two options for upgrades.
Aluminum accents add a nice touch to the interior’s two-color scheme.
Both front seats are power-adjustable eight ways with the driver getting two-way power adjustable lumbar support. You can opt for blue ultra-suede door panels on Essential models in a package that also includes white premium grade leather seating surfaces.
The console features a double screen on the center stack that allows you to perform infotainment functions without putting down the 8-inch screen that serves the navigation system, a feature that many critics don’t seem to appreciate. But I do, maybe because I am constantly fiddling with the radio.
Pricing for the 2019 QX50 starts at $36,550 (plus the $995 destination and delivery charge) for the Pure FWD model. Luxe and Essential trims with FWD start at $39,400 and $43,350, respectively. AWD adds $1,800 to the price.
That pricing makes the QX50 very competitive in its class, but the QX50 Essential can quickly top $50,000 when optional packages are added in.
Standard equipment for the QX50 Essential includes a power moonroof, roof rails, rain-sensing windshield wipers, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, around-view monitor (other trims get the standard rearview camera), parking sensors, power liftgate, push-button start, and hill-start assist.
Adding options and packages like a Sensory Package (premium audio, 20-inch dark painted wheels over the standard 19s, upgraded premium leather, seating, motion-activated liftgate, maple wood interior trim, etc.), a Pro-Assist Package (Back-Up Collision Prevention, adaptive cruise control, etc.), and Pro-Active Package (lane-departure warning and prevention, steering assist, head-up display, etc.) plus illuminated kick plates and welcome lighting ran my test vehicle up to $55,285.
That’s still pretty good considering some of its competitors are hitting the $80,000 mark.
What I liked about the 2019 Infiniti QX50: The interior has gone through a serious upgrade and taken the QX50 to a new level with lots of quality materials throughout. The double screen for nav and infotainment helps simplify operations. You don’t have to get out of navigation mode to change a radio station, for example. Cargo space behind the second row is a generous 31.1 cubic feet and 65.1 with those seats folded. Sport mode provides a lift in performance.
What I didn’t like about the 2019 Infiniti QX50: Though this CVT is light years ahead of previous versions, it still is a CVT. I could live with this one, but still would prefer a 6- or 7-speed. Most of the option packages, including some safety functions, are available only on the Essential model.
Would I buy the 2019 Infiniti QX50? Yep. It’s good-looking inside and out, quiet on the highway, and the overall performance is pretty good for the genre despite the CVT.