If you want a premium driver’s car without compromise, but need some of the utility of a compact crossover, look no further than the 2016 Infiniti QX50 3.7L AWD.
The 2016 Infiniti QX50 may not have a model name you can remember, but you won’t forget the way it drives. This is hands-down one of the best four-door premium driver’s cars in the under $50K price range. From the first time you pull away from a stop in the QX50, you will be pleased. The car pulls strongly, and it then shifts. If you have been scanning down to see if this car is burdened with a CVT transmission, the answer is no (and we don’t consider CVTs a problem anymore, either). The V6 in the QX50 is strong everywhere in its rev band. Packing a whopping 325 horsepower, this normally aspirated, non-turbo engine will remind you just how much you sacrifice in sporty cars and crossovers that are fitted with a 2.0-liter turbo. That dead spot you learn to tolerate while the turbo wakes up is missing because “there ain’t no replacement for displacement.” The Infiniti/Nissan 3.7-liter V6 has been so worked over it is now the Full Monty. Powerful, smooth, quiet, and not bad on gas either. The seven-speed it works with is the perfect choice here as well. There is none of that dual-clutch nonsense when you are selecting drive or reverse are forced to wait while the DCT takes its own sweet time to figure out how to do what torque converter transmissions have done for the better part of a century – make the car move.
The great news continues with regards to the ride quality and handling of the Infiniti QX50. Despite its 19-inch sport wheels and performance all-season rubber, this car handles bumps, and even railroad crossings, with ease. Then you turn in sharply at a corner and the QX50 bites in and feels as good as any all-wheel-drive sports sedan in its price range. The QX50 is the best of both worlds. Comfortable, with great handling. Highway ride quality is also superb. The QX50 has zero unwanted road vibrations. On good pavement, it is like driving on glass. Hit an expansion joint and the QX50 swallows it up with a near-silent “whoomp.” There is no harsh crashing or slamming like one might expect from a vehicle with a suspension tuned to perform this well.
Inside, the big news is seat comfort. The QX50 comes with softest and most “cushy” seats you will find in any vehicle. I’m a tall person and would prefer a smidge more thigh support and seat bottom tilt, but I suspect that 99% of the drivers that sit in this vehicle will be blown away by the seating. The leather on the dash impressed me. Infiniti does not offer “leather trim.” Instead, leather covers pretty much everything you touch or see. The glossy wood trim turned me off, but if you do like old-fashioned style wood, Infiniti does it as well as anyone. Other options are available.
Rear seat space is generous and plush. Even when the front seats recline to allow for easier exit and entry, rear passengers still have ample leg room. The high roof-line means plenty of rear headroom as well. The cargo area cannot compete with a mid-size crossover. The QX50 simply is not as big. However, it is big compared to a sedan’s trunk, and underneath the cargo floor is a compact spare tire and plenty of nooks in which to stash emergency stuff.
The infotainment system immediately synched to my phone, and I quickly adapted to the combination of touch-screen and button actuation. Infiniti uses far more buttons than most automakers, but I applaud it. One can use touch to make selections that would otherwise require taking one’s eyes off the road in a vehicle with only a mouse (Lexus) or only a touch screen. The quality of the audio and navigation was top of class in our tester which had every possible package.
One important package included forward collision prevention and adaptive cruise control. No premium car should ever be made without these options. Despite having the Deluxe Touring, Technology, Premium, Premium Plus, and Illuminated Kick Plate Packages, our QX50 tester cost only $45K. As a writer that is very familiar with the cost of 6-cylinder sports sedans and compact crossovers, I feel comfortable calling this loaded QX50 the bargain of the century.
I saved the look, size and style of the QX50 for last for a reason. Wagons are not popular in America. I have no clue why. Infiniti wants me to tell you this is a crossover, but for me it is a sports wagon, and it should not apologize. The QX50 looks like an Audi All-Road A4 to my eye, and that is a beautiful thing. The hatch-back design is practical and expands usable cargo space. Infiniti didn’t try to make this QX50 fit the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus NX mold. Instead, it made a fantastic driver’s car with all-weather capability and a cargo area that no vehicle with a trunk can match.
Base Price: $35,850
Price As Tested: $44,935 (Including destination charge)
- Power and Performance
- Driving Comfort
- Premium Fuel Recommendation