Wading into the luxury SUV water as a replacement for the aging QX50 (formerly known as the EX) is the all-new 2019 Infiniti QX50. The luxury brand’s latest SUV is more than just some fancy styling on an old body. The QX50 is entirely new from the ground up, with a first-of-its-kind variable compression engine and advanced driver-assist technologies that are no doubt the forerunners to fully autonomous driving. The QX50 sits comfortably between the compact QX30 and the larger, 7-passenger QX60. It competes with other luxury makes like the Cadillac XT5, the Acura RDX and the Mercedes-Benz GLC, as well as the Lexus NX and RX. Although there is no hybrid or electric model, the QX50’s method of propulsion does merit some recognition. Under the sleek hood resides a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with the ability to vary its compression ratio from 8:1 to 14:1 in about one second. It’s a concept that cost a small fortune to engineer, an interesting move considering most manufacturers are pumping money into electric powertrains. It also strikes us odd that in a vehicle so wrapped in cutting edge technology, somehow Apple CarPlay and Android Auto didn’t make the cut. Still, with its stunning styling, impressive luxury features and reasonable pricing, there is definitely an audience for QX50.
What’s New for 2019?
The Infiniti QX50 is all-new this year, with an advanced engine, new driver-assist technology and exclusive luxury items like a new 17-speaker Bose Performance Series audio system, Direct Adaptive drive by wire steering and an Around View Monitor. See the 2019 Infiniti QX50 models for sale near you
What We Like
- Good power and fuel economy
- Advanced driver-assist technology
- Reasonable price
- Sophisticated styling
- Fun to drive
What We Don’t
- Price moves up quickly when adding desirable features
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
- No hybrid model
A variable-compression turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque powers the 2019 Infiniti QX50. Power is routed to the front wheels via an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) featuring eight built-in step points that simulate traditional automatic transmission shifts. All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the front-wheel drive (FWD) QX50 at 24 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. AWD models earn 24 mpg city/30 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 QX50 comes in three trims: Pure, Luxe and Essential. All are FWD with AWD as an option.
The QX50 Pure ($37,545 FWD), ($39,345 AWD) comes with 19-in alloy wheels with run-flat tires, paddle shifters, Direct Adaptive power steering, predictive forward-collision warning and emergency braking, an Intelligent Key remote with push button start, slide and reclining rear seats, 8-way power front seats with power lumbar support, LED headlights, leatherette seating surfaces, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, dual-zone automatic climate control, a trip computer, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary and USB input, Bluetooth, SiriusXM, a rearview camera and cruise control.
The QX50 Luxe ($40,395 FWD), ($42,195 AWD) adds a panoramic moonroof with power sunshade, blind spot monitoring, LED fog lamps and aluminum roof rails.
The QX50 Essential ($44,345 FWD), ($46,145 AWD) brings leather seating, Infiniti InTouch navigation and services, front and rear parking sensors, 360-degree monitor, tri-zone climate control, remote start, heated outside mirrors, a motion-activated power lift gate and rain-sensing wipers.
Options for the QX50 are mostly bundled into packages. The Luxe can be equipped with heated seats and navigation, while the Essential offers the most options including a 17-speaker Bose audio system, a ProASSIST package (adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic assist and backup emergency braking) and the ProACTIVE package that adds the ProASSIST package plus steering assist, blind spot intervention, lane-departure warning and assist, auto high beams, auto parking assist and a head-up display.
The Premium Heat package adds memory front seats, heated mirrors and steering wheel, a power tilt-and-telescopic steering column and reverse tilt-down side mirrors. The Sensory package adds the Premium Audio and Premium Heat package plus 20-in dark painted wheels, climate controlled front seats, upgraded premium leather, adaptive front cube style headlights and Ultrasuede headliner.
The base QX50 includes anti-lock brakes, electronic traction and stability control, automatic emergency braking and a rearview monitor. Optional driver assists include adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic assist, rear automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist.
To date, the government has not yet crash tested the QX50. However, the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the QX50 a rating of Good in its front and side impact crash test, and a Superior in the crash avoidance and mitigation test.
Behind the Wheel
Contributing editor Jason Fogelson spent some time behind the wheel of the new Infiniti QX50, here are some of his observations:
Engineering geeks will love the QX50’s new engine. Infiniti has figured out an internal mechanism that alters the compression ratio of the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine in response to demand. Getting deep into the weeds here, a precisely machined linkage dynamically varies the piston’s stroke, which has the effect of changing the compression ratio from 8:1 to 14:1 in about one second.
Why would you want to change the compression ratio? High compression ratio generally squeezes more out of its fuel, as the space where detonation happens is smaller and more densely packed with air. This is great for efficiency, but it can be challenging to maintain knock-free detonation. In higher demand situations where the priority is more power and torque over efficiency and where you really can’t risk knocks, the engine reverts to 8:1 for safer operation. Infiniti engineers have been working on this technology for years and, in the process, they refined the milling and manufacturing processes for the engine internals, tightening tolerances for all of the parts involved. As a result, they were able to eliminate the balance shafts required for smooth operation in the previous-generation engine. The new engine doesn’t need them, thanks to lower vibration and an active torque rod engine mount.
ProPILOT Assist, Infiniti’s latest step toward autonomous or automated driving, is available as an option on the top trim level of the QX50. The system includes Intelligent Cruise Control with Full-Speed Range, lane-departure warning, lane-departure prevention and lane-keeping assist. You can engage the system and allow the vehicle to control throttle and brake inputs, as well as steering within the lane. You have to remain engaged — if sensors can’t detect torque inputs on the steering wheel, you get an audible and visual warning before the system rapidly disengages and slows the vehicle to a halt. This is not hands-free autonomous driving; it’s driver assistance. Infiniti has made the system easy to operate via a steering wheel button and simple graphics on the driver information screen in the instrument panel.
After listening to engineering presentations about the new VC-Turbo engine, looking at engine cutaways and trying to absorb the gist of what makes the engine so unique, anticipation built toward driving the new QX50. In the default "Drive" mode, throttle response is a little bit sluggish off the line, but picks up as the vehicle gains momentum. The star of the show is the steering and handling. The QX50 carves the corners and feels direct and natural in most situations — a contrast to earlier steer-by-wire systems which felt vague and disconnected. The suspension keeps things flat and controlled, and overall handling and braking is better than most in the class.
When the "Sport" mode is selected, throttle response sharpens significantly, and the crossover gets much more responsive. The little 2.0-liter engine has a very unique voice, almost Italian in character, and never sounds thrashy. Active Noise Cancellation in the cabin is tuned to produce a quiet environment, but not an artificially anechoic tomb (very undesirable). QX50 isn’t particularly fast, but thanks to well-balanced, crisp handling and performance, it’s fun to drive and can be quite rewarding.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC — The GLC costs more than the QX50, but it also come with more standard equipment, an available V6 or AMG engine upgrade plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
2019 Lexus NX — The Lexus NX offers a few more standard features, the option of a hybrid engine plus superior resale values.
Although the base Pure price seems attractive, it’s missing some key features you can find on non-luxury crossovers like the VW Tiguan and Hyundai Santa Fe. Move to the other end of the spectrum and you’ll be dishing out close to $60,000 for a loaded AWD Essential. We’d go for the Essential but limit options to keep the price around $48,000. Find an Infiniti QX50 for sale