CHATHAM, Mass. – I was Heading East on U.S. Route 6 and thanks to the standard ProPILOT Assist the 2021 INFINITI QX50 Autograph AWD mid-size sport utility was doing most of the work. It kept a safe distance from the cars ahead of me and navigated the right lane of the gently curving four-lane highway at a steady 44 miles per hour. All I had to do was keep my hands on the steering wheel and provide occasional small steering inputs (to let the SUV “know” I was still in control).

INFINITI does not consider the ProPILOT Assist an autonomous-driving system (if you release the steering wheel, a large, red-bordered alert on the dash will chastise you), but rather the first step in the evolution of its (and parent Nissan’s) development of a self-driving methodology and an umbrella term covering future advanced driver-assist technologies.

ProPILOT Assist uses radar and camera sensors to read road conditions and situations and allows the QX50 to react accordingly. The framework which underpins the system will be developed in the future with a series of new functionalities.

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INFINITI QX50 Puts Luxury and Tech in Mid-Size SUV

As the first in a potential suite of driver-assist technologies, ProPILOT Assist can help the driver control acceleration, braking and steering during single-lane highway driving. ProPILOT Assist takes over single-lane driving operation at the push of a button, and the driver can choose to let the car operate on his or her behalf in stop-and-go traffic. The technologies that make up the ProPILOT Assist system include Direct Adaptive Steering and Intelligent Cruise Control.

And it all worked as advertised – keeping me in the correct lane on the highway, safely behind all traffic. INFINITI says this is an aid for driving in many different types of conditions, including stop-and-go traffic and I would not doubt them based on how well it worked during my brief trial.

A comprehensive suite of today’s advanced driver-assist technologies

Beyond the ProPILOT Assist, which is standard on all but the base (Pure) QX50 model, was a comprehensive suite of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) and safety features. These included:

  • Automatic high-beam assist
  • Predictive forward collision warning
  • Forward emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection
  • Rear automatic braking (AEB)
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Blind-spot warning
  • Blind Spot Intervention®
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Lane-departure prevention
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Around View Monitor with 360° overhead view of the space around the QX50
  • Moving Object Detection
  • Front and rear parking sensors
The INFINITI QX50 is defined by its distinctive proportions, which set the car apart from its competitors. For 2021, enhancements to the QX50 include a new Mineral Black exterior color option.

Comfort and convenience provided by luxurious interior amenities

The QX50 is a luxury mid-size SUV and its features, amenities and appointments, especially in this top-of-the-range Autograph AWD variant, illustrate these characteristics. The ride is solid and smooth without being soft or mushy. The cabin is quiet but not tomb-like. Conversations are easy to conduct at any speed or you can simply sit back in the heated and ventilated leather seats (power adjustable for both front-seat occupants) and enjoy the Bose® 16-speaker Performance Audio system.

Controlling the infotainment system, which also includes navigation with MapCare and Premium Traffic+, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Wi-Fi hotspot, are a pair of (vertically stacked) touch screens and logical, well thought out, buttons on the dash and the steering wheel (which is electrically adjustable for height and reach as well as being leather covered and heated).

My ride included the optional Premium White Leather Package which brought white semi-aniline leather-appointed seating with quilting stitch, blue Ultrasuede accents, brown Ultrasuede headliner and blue piping between the leather and the Ultrasuede. This enhanced the look and luxury feel of the cabin.

Three-zone automatic climate control, USB ports, cupholders and storage cubbies as well as a generous luggage area (which can be enhanced by either sliding the rear seats forward or collapsing them to provide a flat floor) add to making this a terrific vehicle for road trips.

The INFINITI QX50 is defined by its distinctive proportions, which set the car apart from its competitors. For 2021, enhancements to the QX50 include a new Mineral Black exterior color option.

The dynamics

Motivating the INFINITI QX50 was a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 268 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque. This power gets to the road through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) with manual-shift mode (facilitated by steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters) and what INFINITI calls intelligent all-wheel drive (AWD).

The drivetrain offers two-wheel drive efficiency, with all-wheel traction when the situation requires it. The AWD drivetrain continuously monitors traction levels and wheel spin and can send up to 50 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels to maintain traction. If the extra rear-wheel traction is not required, the drivetrain defaults to front-wheel drive for maximum efficiency.

When accelerating from a standstill, the system automatically reverts to AWD power delivery, with a 50:50 front-to-rear torque split.

The AWD system also features two special elements to its Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) system. Active Brake Limited Slip enables wheels to brake individually and isolates the delivery of torque to those wheels with the most grip. Active Trace Control provides braking to individual wheels to limit understeer when cornering.

Speaking of brakes, theQX50 features 13-inch vented rotors up front, 12.1-inch vented ones in the rear with anti-lock (ABS) control.

Where the rubber meets the road are 255/45 all-season run-flat tires on 20-inch gun-metal aluminum-alloy wheels.

Bottom line

The 2021 INFINITI QX50 Autograph AWD is quiet, smooth and powerful with very reasonable fuel efficiency. The federal Environmental Protection Agency rates it at 22 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway. My time behind the wheel returned 24 mpg, just below the EPA combined city/highway figure of 25 mpg.

There are five grade levels of he QX50 starting with the front-wheel drive Pure variant at $37,950 base price increasing in standard equipment and features through the AWD Autograph version we sampled which had a base price of $56,850 ($61,765 as reviewed).

The INFINITI QX50 offers a lot of luxury and technological features, like ProPILOT Assist, to set it apart, making it worth a look if you are in the market for an upscale mid-size SUV.

Next week TBR Drivers a Lexus IS350.