Although the 2015 Infiniti QX50 might seem like a new SUV, it really isn't, having sprung to life nearly six years ago as the Infiniti EX35. Despite its age, Infiniti's small luxury SUV continues to impress with its sedan-like driving dynamics, sensible size and rich interior design. Looking not unlike a quarter-scale model of the larger QX70 SUV, the QX50's curvaceous exterior starkly contrasts the hard, crisp lines of newer luxury models, such as the Mercedes-Benz GLK. Unlike many of its peers, the QX50 rides lower to the ground, making entry and exit a bit easier. The QX50's powerful V6 engine won't disappoint, either, though its small rear seat and cargo capacity might.
Inside, Infiniti has created a little leather-and-wood oasis to escape to after a hard day at the office. Luxury is more than just technology and power, it's an art form -- and in the QX50, Infiniti has created a masterpiece. With its flowing dash and door panels, detailed stitching on the seats, wood inlays and colorful interior options, the 2015 Infiniti QX50 really does make its owner and occupant feel pampered.
What's New for 2014?
There are no major changes to the 2015 Infiniti QX50.
What We Like
Inviting interior; powerful V6; low step-in height; sleek styling
What We Don't
Small back seat; smaller cargo hold; high pricing on the Journey model; rear-wheel drive not as good in snow as front-wheel drive
The QX50 is powered by a smooth and refined 3.7-liter V6 engine that makes 325 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. Infiniti's 7-speed automatic is the only transmission choice and uses adaptive shift control technology to learn and respond to driver habits. Its manual mode allows the driver to change gears manually, aided by a downshift rev-matching feature that blips the throttle before downshifts.
Fuel economy ratings for both rear-wheel-drive models are 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, while the all-wheel-drive (AWD) models attain slightly lower ratings: 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The Infiniti QX50 comes in two trims: base and Journey. Both trims can be ordered with all-wheel drive.
The base QX50 ($35,995) includes standard keyless entry and starting, an 8-way power driver's seat, leather interior, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera and USB/iPod integration.
The QX50 base AWD ($37,395) adds heated front seats to the base model's standard equipment list.
The QX50 Journey ($38,195) adds a power tilt/slide moonroof, Bluetooth, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel and heated front seats.
The QX50 Journey AWD ($39,595) has the same equipment as the rear-wheel-drive model.
Three well-appointed packages are available for the Journey trims. The Technology package includes intelligent cruise control that helps maintain a safe distance between the QX50 and upcoming traffic; lane-departure warning and lane-departure prevention; and blind spot and forward-collision monitoring systems. The Premium package adds helpful features such as the Around View Monitor, which displays a 360-degree view outside the vehicle, and a 7-in LCD hard-drive navigation system with voice recognition and 3D graphics. Also included in the package are front and rear sonar and Infiniti's advanced climate-control system. The Deluxe Touring package adds adaptive HID headlamps, tilt-down side-view mirrors, a power passenger seat, power-folding rear seats and driver's seat power lumbar support.
Traditional safety equipment includes a standard 4-wheel anti-lock braking system, electronic traction and stability control, and a full complement of airbags, including front-side impact and front- and rear-side curtain airbags. Optional safety equipment includes a pre-brake feature as part of intelligent cruise control that can detect rapidly slowing traffic ahead and prep the brakes for an emergency stop. The lane-departure warning system uses cameras to monitor the space between the car and the center dividing line. If the vehicle veers too close to the line, the system will alert the driver via an audible warning and lightly apply selected brakes to help bring the car back into its lane.
The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2013 EX37 top marks in all of its crash tests and awarded it a Top Safety Pick rating. As the QX50 is the same vehicle, we expect these ratings to remain intact.
Behind the Wheel
Because the QX50 shares much of its chassis and suspension with the G Sedan, it naturally rides and drives very much like its sleek 4-door cousin. Although not as quick off the line as the G, the QX50 is no slouch, and it handles quick merging maneuvers as easily as it rounds sharp bends. The intelligent AWD system adds traction when needed but sends most of the engine's power back to the rear wheels -- exactly what the enthusiast driver loves.
On side streets and long stretches of highway, the QX50's ride is fairly compliant, and its cabin is nearly isolated from wind and road noise. The steering is heavily but not arduously weighted, and the brakes feel strong and confident even after repeated hard stops. The one place that the QX50 could be fairly criticized is on rough surfaces: The base car's 18-in wheels and low-profile tires pick up and transmit road distortions too easily. Toss on the Deluxe Touring package's 19-in setup and the ride can become downright rude.
Other Cars to Consider
BMW X3 -- The X3's exterior is more angular, and its driving dynamics are more sporty (plus it has a larger rear seat), but the QX50's interior is far more plush, and a comparably equipped model is less expensive.
Mercedes-Benz GLK -- The GLK's styling is more angular and its interior is larger, not to mention it offers a high-mileage diesel option. Also, the GLK's ride is decidedly firmer than the QX50's.
Audi Q5 -- The Q5's interior is as attractive as the Infiniti's, but it has more rear legroom and cargo space, and its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine gets better fuel economy. Equip the Q5 with its optional V6 and the price jumps well above the QX50, though the two are equally matched in hp or torque.
We'd go with the rear-wheel-drive Journey with the Premium package. You can get the same color and fabrics in the base QX50, but you can't order the option packages that really belong on a luxury model. The Technology package is not necessary unless you like lots of driving assistance, and the Touring package's 19-in wheels make the QX50's ride too stiff.