2020 Infiniti QX50
The premium crossover market is among the most competitive in America, and Infiniti has been a strong player from the inception of this SUV segment. Almost 20 years ago the brand introduced the FX, a modern take (at the time) of a performance / luxury crossover. The model has evolved over the years, eventually becoming the QX50 in its current form, which was introduced last year. Now a front-wheel-drive crossover, the QX50 leans toward luxury, which takes priority over performance — but for many crossover buyers, the QX50’s premium pedigree could be exactly what they’re seeking.
Our Test Vehicle
We spent several days driving the 2020 Infiniti QX50 Essential AWD. Our tester was equipped with optional extras including the Edition 30 package, a Cargo Package, Welcome Lighting and Premium Paint (Majestic White). Total MSRP comes in at $49,630. Competitors to the QX50 are numerous and include the BMW X3, Audi Q3, Lexus NX, Acura RDX, Cadillac XT4 and Lincoln Corsair.
Infiniti introduced an all-new QX50 last year that gave the premium crossover a sportier look with a sculpted hood and character lines that run along the sides to the wraparound rear taillights. The large grille and stylish headlights match the rest of the Infiniti lineup. We appreciated the premium Majestic White paint on the test vehicle, which added depth to the overall style.
To celebrate the brand’s 30th anniversary, Infiniti is offering all vehicles in its lineup with a special Edition 30 package. For the QX50, this adds a black grille, black outside mirrors, dark chrome trim, a rear diffuser, Edition 30 badging and 20-inch dark-painted wheels.
Infiniti added a new infotainment system to the 2020 QX50, which is an improvement over the previous version in many ways. The system uses dual HD touchscreen displays so multiple functions can be accessed and viewed simultaneously. We especially like the Android Auto integration — Android Auto features are displayed on the top screen, while the Infiniti vehicle settings such climate control or audio are still accessible on the lower screen.
On the 2020 Infiniti QX50, all climate controls are hard buttons that surround the lower display for quick and easy access. At the bottom is a volume control; although there is no tuning knob, we do appreciate that the stations can be easily scrolled using the hard buttons. Multiple USB ports are accessible via front seats, including the newer USB-C connections.
After spending several hours behind the wheel of the QX50, we can honestly say the front seats are among the most comfortable we’ve experienced. A nice combination of soft cushioning with good support, the seats did not contribute to any numbness or fatigue often associated with long road trips. The front-seat environs also provide plenty of storage including a large center console.
The 5-passenger QX50 offers a spacious rear seat with plenty of headroom and legroom. Seat cushions are a bit stiffer than those up front, but they are still comfortable and have the ability to recline. Seats can also be folded flat to increase rear cargo space.
When the QX50 was redone last year, designers were able to make much better use of interior space, most noticeably in the surprisingly spacious cargo area. Several large suitcases or other items can easily fit behind the rear seats. The wide rear hatch opening makes for easy loading and unloading.
Powering the QX50 is a rather innovative engine — a 2.0-liter VC-Turbo. According to Infiniti, this is the first production engine that adjusts compression ratio to optimize both power and efficiency. The VC-Turbo is rated at 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, which provides great power as well as impressive fuel efficiency. After about 400 high-speed miles in the QX50, we were averaging around 27 mpg — not bad for an all-wheel-drive crossover.
Unfortunately, the excellent engine of the 2020 Infiniti QX50 gets teamed with a not-so-satisfying continuously variable transmission. The throttle can be very difficult to modulate; a little throttle when starting from a stop results in very slow acceleration —feed a bit more with the right foot and suddenly the QX is surging forward. Conversely, when launching under full throttle there is a lot of noise but not much acceleration. Occasionally we were able to find the perfect throttle position —which demonstrated the great acceleration possible from the VC-Turbo motor — but it was not easy to do. We understand the CVT is part of the reason for the Infiniti’s good fuel economy; however, it does not provide an enjoyable driving experience.
Adaptive Cruise Control
During our 400-mile road trip from Seattle to Portland and back, we made full use of the QX50’s adaptive cruise control. Part of Infiniti’s ProPILOT Assist system, the adaptive cruise worked well, slowing gradually to match the speed of the vehicle ahead, then accelerating when we moved over to pass. The system works much more smoothly than offerings from many other car companies.
The QX50 is a great looking crossover, especially with the combination of the Edition 30 treatment and the Majestic White paint. While we miss the performance of the previous-generation’s rear-wheel drive and more powerful engine, the spacious and comfortable interior of the current QX50 — along with the updated infotainment system —is certainly a plus, combining the luxury expected of an Infiniti with the utility of an SUV. The CVT’s performance is a major drawback for us, but for drivers more interested in amenities and style, the QX50 is certainly worth consideration.