CHATHAM, Mass. – Quiet, comfortable, powerful and loaded with the latest technology, the INFINITI QX50 exerts itself as solid member of the luxury wing of the competitive mid-size SUV/CUV (sport utility/crossover utility vehicle) segment.
Nissan created the INFINITI brand in the mid-1980s to take on the European luxury brands (much like Toyota did creating the Lexus brand), first with sedans, then with the explosion of the SUV category, with all-wheel-drive vehicles like the QX50.
INFINITI technology enhances the driving experience
Technology sits as a centerpiece in all Nissan/INFINITI products and the 2020 INFINITI QX50 Autograph AWD we drove last week was a perfect example of this. Most importantly, the comprehensive suite of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS), dual-screen infotainment system and the other techno features were intuitive to operate, well integrated and, overall, enhanced the driving characteristics of SUV.
INFINITI ProPILOT Assist leads the suite of ADAS and is standard on all versions of the QX50. ProPILOT Assist is a hands-on driver assist system that combines Nissan’s Intelligent Cruise Control and Steering Assist technologies and includes a stop and hold function that can bring the vehicle to a full stop, hold in place and can bring you back up to speed when traffic starts moving again. It keeps the vehicle centered in its lane and maintains a preset distance from the vehicle ahead of it.
Other ADAS include: traffic-sign recognition; adaptive front-lighting; hill-start assist; active trace control; forward emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection; 360° monitor with moving-object detection; high-beam assist; lane-departure warning/lane-departure prevention (and the INFINITI version is less obnoxious than many other systems, but still provides adequate audible and tactile feedback to the driver); blind-spot warning/blind-spot intervention; rear cross-traffic alert, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
The QX50’s technology extends beyond enhancing the driving aspects of the vehicle by providing driver and passengers with a myriad of comfort and convenience features which makes the overall experience consistently pleasurable.
The driver has four monitors providing essential vehicle information as well as infotainment material.
Commanding the infotainment system is the INFINITI InTouch™ dual-display which puts the standard navigation system on the eight-inch upper touchscreen enabling the driver to keep his/her eyes more easily on the road.
The seven-inch lower InTouch™ screen displays climate control, apps and entertainment functions (which include AM/FM/SiriusXM satellite radio/streaming audio/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto). The sound comes through 16 speakers courtesy of the Bose® Performance Series Audio system designed for the QX50.
Monitor number three is the Instrument gauge screen between the speedometer and tachometer, displaying key driving information, safety messages and warnings, plus a real-time display of the engine’s power output and efficiency
A standard heads-up display (HUD) constitutes the fourth monitor. The HUD’s projector displays information on a nine-inch area of the windscreen and requires the driver to adjust his/her sightline by just four degrees – compared to the 20 degrees that is typical in other vehicles. And, more importantly, the HUD information is visible even when the driver is wearing sunglasses (which is not true of some other HUDs)!
Interior comfort a given in this segment
Leather covers all five seating positions with the fronts having 10-ways of power adjustment including lumbar support (the driver’s has two-person memory) along with heating and cooling. The steering wheel, which is also leather covered, power adjusted and heated, offers controls for the infotainment, cruise-control, driver-information system and voice activation.
The cabin climate-control system is tri-zone, with rear passengers able to set their own temperature. Speaking of sitting in the second row, the seats slide, recline and fold flat (60/40).
Above everyone is the standard panoramic moonroof with power-operated shade.
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Technology enhances dynamic qualities
When INFINITI redesigned the QX50 for the 2019 model year, it included a new engine – a 2-liter Variable Compression Turbocharged (VCT) four-cylinder powerplant which produces a V6-like 268 horsepower with 280 pounds-feet of torque.
Completing the power-train package is a continuously variable transmission (CVT), all-wheel drive, vehicle dynamic control and traction control.
All these pieces help provide the QX50 Autograph AWD with superb mid-size SUV fuel economy. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates it at 22 miles per gallon in the city, 28 on the highway and 25 overall. Our real-world experience was spot on the fed’s – 25.1 mpg in mostly suburban driving.
Brakes designed for more than stopping power
The new 2019 platform (unchanged for 2020) included all-new brakes engineered to deliver comfort and responsiveness and provide confident braking in all conditions. The linear stroke of the brake pedal provides a reassuring level of resistance, at any point in its travel. The brake booster is tuned to prevent the car grabbing at the brakes with light pressure on the pedal, applying maximum brake force if the system detects a firmer push on the pedal.
Ventilated disc brakes are fitted front and rear, the fronts 13 inches in diameter, the rears 12.1. The brake booster was designed for the new platform, featuring a tie-rod system which reduces the need for higher brake pedal pressure. Anti-lock (ABS) technology is part of the braking system.
The 20-inch alloy wheels are fitted with 255/45RF20 run-flat tires, striking a balance between design, practicality and refinement. The application of run-flats enables the fitment of low-profile tires around the 20-inch wheels, while special reinforced rubber sidewalls allow the tires to work with reduced air pressure for up to 93 miles. This gives owners the peace of mind that they can drive to a tire fitter to replace the damaged one, and eliminates the need to carry a spare, freeing up additional trunk capacity.
The sum of all this technology is a very satisfying vehicle to drive and live with. It is comfortable, roomy, quiet, smooth, more than adequately powerful and practical. The luxury is understated and tastefully executed.
For 2020 INFINITI offered five versions of the QX50 in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The Pure – base trim level – carried an MSRP of $38,275. Our top-of-the-line Autograph AWD variant came in at a starting price of $55,850 and, adding in the tow package, premium paint, welcome lighting system, splash guards, rear-bumper protector and destination charges, brought the as-reviewed price to $59,530. Not an insignificant amount, but very competitive to other luxury mid-size/large compact SUVs/CUVs.