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2016 Infiniti QX50: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader December 2015

Infiniti continues to prolong the life of its oldest compact luxury SUV, a vehicle that started life as the EX35 but is now billed as the 2016 Infiniti QX50. For 2016, the QX50 sees its wheelbase stretched, adding a much needed 4.3 inches of rear-seat legroom. Despite the platform's age, Infiniti's small luxury SUV continues to impress with its sedanlike 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 Lexus NX 200t. 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.

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 2016 Infiniti QX50 really does make its owner and occupant feel pampered.

What's New for 2016?

The 2016 QX50 has its wheelbase stretched 3.2 inches and its rear-seat legroom increased by 4.3 inches. Trim levels are simplified to QX50 and QX50 all-wheel drive (AWD), while a power sunroof is made standard.

What We Like

Inviting interior; powerful V6; low step-in height; sleek styling; proven track record

What We Don't

Limited cargo space; infotainment system has small screen and is not compatible with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto; rear-wheel drive not as good in the snow as front-wheel drive

How Much?

$35,445-$46,000

Fuel Economy

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 AWD models attain slightly lower ratings of 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Infiniti QX50 comes in just one trim with four option packages.

The QX50 ($35,445) includes standard Intelligent Key with push-button starting, heated front seats, an 8-way power driver's seat, a 4-way power passenger seat, leather interior, 18-inch alloy wheels, auto on/off headlights, heated outside power mirrors, a power sunroof, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD with auxiliary input audio/video jack, USB/iPod interface, Bluetooth, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera and cruise control.

The QX50 AWD ($36,845) adds Infiniti's Intelligent All-Wheel Drive.

Four well-appointed packages are available for the 2016 QX50.

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 the 11-speaker Bose audio system, Advanced Climate Control System (ACCS) with Plasmacluster air purifier, 2-position memory for the driver's seat, steering column and mirrors, a power tilt-telescopic steering column and a reverse tilt-down feature for the outside mirrors.

The Premium Plus package requires the Premium package and 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 detection. The Deluxe Touring package adds adaptive HID headlamps, power-folding rear seats, driver's seat power lumbar support, an 8-way power passenger seat, 19-in alloy wheels and a coat hanger on the rear driver's seat head restraint.

Safety

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 gives the QX50 top marks in all of its crash tests.

Behind the Wheel

Because the QX50 shares much of its chassis and suspension with the Q50 sedan, it naturally rides and drives much like its sleek 4-door cousin. Although not as quick off the line, 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

2016 BMW X3 -- The X3's exterior is more angular, and its driving dynamics are more sporty, plus it has more cargo space and ground clearance. However, the QX50 has a more powerful engine, its interior is far more plush and a comparably equipped model is less expensive.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLA -- The GLA250 is priced similarly to the QX50, until you start adding options. The QX50 has a larger rear seat and more standard hp, although the GLA offers a high performance GLA45 AMG model the QX50 can't match.

2016 Lexus NX 200t -- The NX 200t isn't as powerful as the QX50, but it has better fuel economy and offers the option of a hybrid model. The NX is pulled by its front wheels, which can be advantageous in winter driving conditions, plus offers a roomier rear seat and more cargo space.

Used Audi Q5 -- A 2012-2014 Audi 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 achieves better fuel economy. Equip the Q5 with its optional V6 and the two are equally matched in hp or torque.

Autotrader's Advice

We'd go with the rear-wheel-drive QX50 with Premium and Premium Plus packages. The Technology package is not necessary unless you like a lot of driving assistance, and the Touring package's 19-in wheels make the QX50's ride too stiff.

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Used 2016 INFINITI QX50 AWD
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Certified 2016 INFINITI QX50 AWD
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Infiniti QX50: New Car Review - Autotrader