Test Drive Notes Library
- Interior. The QX50 is what counts as a mid-priced crossover these days (less than $50K), but the interior is very impressive. The motif is matte black, and it has a certain zen quality about it. Compared to lots of busy, upscale interiors, this one imparts a sense of calm and quality. Fit and finish are excellent. The cabin feels roomy, even for those in the sliding and reclining rear seats. The quality of the materials is high. And except on hard acceleration, interior noise levels are very low. It’s peaceful in here.
- Power. Our QX50 came with Nissan’s newest 268 horsepower “variable compression” engine. That means the cylinders can change their compression from about 8:1 (low) to 14:1 (high) depending on the driving demands. In theory, that should provide a lot of torque starting at very low rpm, eliminating “turbo lag.” In reality, it works. Low end torque is very impressive for a four-cylinder engine. A good jolt of power is also available as soon as your stoplight turns green. There is no turbo lag to speak of.
- Now with safety. As of 2020, Infiniti adds standard blind spot detection, lane departure warning, and cross traffic alert to the previously standard forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. The ProAssist Package adds adaptive cruise control. That’s everything you need.
- Ride comfort. The ride is pretty comfortable in QX50. Unfortunately, our “Edition 30 Package” (meant to celebrate Infiniti’s 30th anniversary) came with low profile 20-inch, run-flat tires. We’re sure those didn’t help the ride, and they were probably responsible for the occasional thwack of potholeness into an otherwise pretty peaceful cabin. 19-inch, higher profile tires are the base offering and we’d recommend going with those. A non-run-flat option would be even better for ride quality.
- Visibility. The QX50 has a nice, large windshield. The rear side windows extend with a small triangle of glass to increase your viewing ability to the rear sides. Only the thick windshield pillars get in the way. But there is electronic help. Infiniti-parent Nissan was the first to come out with the bird’s eye, surround view camera. It cleverly stitches together camera views from all sides of the vehicle, and presents you with a “top down” view of the car, and everything around it, while you’re parking. We still find it a great feature for reversing or parking, and essential for backing into a spot between two cars. You’ll never want to park “commando” again.
- Apple Car Play and Android Auto. We find that even the more complicated, less intuitive infotainment systems are more tolerable when you can basically skip over them and just use the logical Apple Car Play. That’s why you’ll find this comment under “Likes” instead of “Dislikes.” Without Apple Car Play, our comments on Infiniti's somewhat confusing, two-screen Infiniti system would land below.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Middling fuel economy. One of the promises of the variable compression engine was better fuel economy. We didn’t see it. We barely eked out 20 mpg overall, in more city than highway driving. The EPA says you should be able to get 25 overall. Good luck.
- Noise on acceleration. While the engine is peppy and the cabin mostly quiet, on hard acceleration, the continuously variable transmission (CVT) really revs up and sends harsh engine noise into the cabin. It’s like when you’re meditating, and your four-year-old taps on your shoulder and says something bad happened with the toilet.
- No steering feel. We have to admit, getting in the QX50 for the first time is impressive. The interior is like a really well-furnished room. It says “solid,” and “substantial.” Some of the bloom goes off that rose as soon as you start to drive away because the steering is so light and vague. It’s “no effort” steering, for those who like that. But anyone who wants any kind of connection to the road or sporty driving experience will have to keep shopping.
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