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2020 Infiniti QX50 Review

As one of Infiniti‘s strongest luxury SUV offerings, the 2020 Infiniti QX50 continues to blaze its own trail, offering buyers a heaping helping of technology, performance and luxury at a price that puts the Europeans on notice.

Along with its new, more rigid architecture, the 2020 QX50 possesses a first-of-its-kind variable-compression engine and advanced driver-assist technologies that are undoubtedly 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, the Mercedes-Benz GLC, the Lexus NX and the Lexus 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 and an interesting move considering how most manufacturers are pumping money into electric powertrains.

What’s New for 2020?

For 2020, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto finally make an appearance, while a new dual-screen infotainment system and a host of driver assists are added to QX50’s standard equipment list. Two new trims, Sensory and Autograph, join the lineup and there is a slight reshuffling of the optional equipment packages. See the 2020 Infiniti QX50 models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Good power and fuel economy
  • Advanced driver-assist technology comes standard
  • Reasonable price
  • Sophisticated styling
  • Fun to drive

What We Don’t

  • Price increases quickly with desirable added features
  • No hybrid model
  • Color selection could do with a few more bold choices
  • Fuel economy
  • CVT performance

How Much?

$38,275 – $60,000

Fuel Economy

A variable-compression turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that’s good for 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque powers the 2020 Infiniti QX50. Power is routed to the front wheels via an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) that features 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 23 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. AWD models earn 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2020 QX50 comes in five trims: Pure, Luxe, Essential, Sensory and Autograph. All are FWD with AWD as an option.

The QX50 Pure ($38,275 FWD), ($40,275 AWD) comes with 19-in alloy wheels with run-flat tires, paddle shifters, Direct Adaptive power steering, rear automatic braking, blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, high-beam assist, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors. Also standard are the 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 power liftgate, 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, Apple CarPlay, Android auto, a rearview camera and cruise control.

The QX50 Luxe ($41,275 FWD), ($43,275 AWD) adds a panoramic moonroof with power sunshade LED fog lamps and aluminum roof rails.

The QX50 Essential ($45,125 FWD), ($47,125 AWD) brings the Infiniti InTouch navigation and services, front and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree monitor, remote start, heated outside mirrors, heated seats and rain-sensing wipers.

The QX50 Sensory ($49,925 FWD), ($51,925 AWD) adds 20-in aluminum wheels, Bose audio, leather seating, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, blind spot assist, adaptive front lighting and lane-departure intervention.

The QX50 Autograph ($54,857 FWD), ($56,875 AWD) brings ProPilot Assist (steering assist with full-speed adaptive cruise control and stop-and-hold), Direct Active Steering, a head-up display, tri-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a motion-activated tailgate, semi-aniline leather seating and traffic-sign recognition.

Options for the QX50 are mostly bundled into packages. The Luxe can be equipped with heated seats and navigation, while the Essential offers two packages: the ProASSIST package (adaptive cruise control, blind spot intervention, lane-departure intervention and adaptive front lighting) and the Convenience package (leather seats, memory for the driver’s seat, mirrors and tilt wheel, a power tilt/telescopic steering column, reverse tilt-down mirrors and heated steering wheel. The Sensory trim offers two packages that include such must-haves as ventilated front seats, ProPilot Assist, tri-zone climate control and rear-passenger sunshades. The Autograph offers the Premium White Leather package, which adds quilted white leather seating with blue piping and blue Ultrasuede trim on the doors, dash and console lid.

Safety

The base QX50 includes anti-lock brakes, electronic traction and stability control, automatic emergency braking and a rearview monitor. Also standard are driver assists that include adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic assist, rear automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2020 QX50 5 Stars overall, with a 5-Star rating in the front and side impact tests, and 4 Stars in the rollover test. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the QX50 a rating of ‘Good’ in its front and side impact crash test, and ‘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, and 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? A high compression ratio generally squeezes more out of the 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 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, along the way, they have 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. 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, I highly anticipated driving the new QX50. In the default "Drive" mode, throttle response is a little bit sluggish off the line, but it picks up as the vehicle gains momentum. The stars of the show are 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 are 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

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC The GLC costs more than the QX50, but it also comes with more standard equipment, an available V6 or AMG engine upgrade.

2020 Acura RDX The Acura RDX costs about the same as the QX50 Pure, but it offers much more in the way of standard luxury amenities. It also holds its value better.

2020 Lincoln Corsair The Corsair is slightly smaller than the QX50, but it too offers superior value and features, similar power from its turbocharged engine and more high-tech cabin equipment.

2020 Lexus NX The Lexus NX offers a few more standard features, the option of a hybrid engine and superior resale value.

Used BMW X5 For about the same price as a new QX50, you could get into a 2015-2017 BMW X5 and get more features, power and interior room as well as better performance.

Autotrader’s Advice

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 Autograph. We’d go for either the Essential or Sensory and add the optional equipment packages. Find an Infiniti QX50 for sale

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