REVIEW: 2019 Infiniti QX50 Essential FWD – Much Tech and Style

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Infiniti’s QX50 aims for an optimal combination of technology, style, and space to stand out in the very crowded luxury crossover field. Let’s see if it comes together.

What is it? 

The Infiniti QX50 is a luxury compact crossover that directly competes with such desired luminaries like the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and Lexus NX.

Others vying for QX50 buyers come from Acura, Alfa Romeo, Cadillac, Lincoln, and Volvo. It’s a crowded field, for sure.

Pricing and trims

Pure, Luxe, and Essential: these are the choices in QX50 trims. All-wheel-drive is available on all of them.

The Pure starts off at a bit less than $38,000 for the front-wheel drive version, and adding AWD boosts that price by an even two grand.

Our Essential FWD tester’s $44,445 base price (including the $995 destination charge) climbed to $55,285. The $7,500 Sensory Package is a big part of that increase.

Looking for a new or used Infiniti QX50? Check out BestRide’s listings search here.

The panoramic moonroof pictured below is standard in the Luxe and Essential trims, and the surrounding Ultrasuede treatment is applied by the Sensory Package to the Essential’s ceiling and A- and B-pillars.

The Ultrasuede’s richness wowed all who climbed aboard, and it makes the Sensory Package an expensive no-brainer for a buyer using their QX50 Essential to impress clients.

Bose audio from sixteen speakers is another Sensory Package perk, and its shiny tweeter grilles announce its presence.

The tester also had the $550 ProASSIST Package and the $2,000 ProACTIVE Package, which are covered below in Ride and Handling.

More frivolous is the $890 this QX50 Essential FWD rang up in lighting features: $425 for Welcome Lighting and $465 for Illuminated Kick Plates, both of which were appreciated for their sparkle in the dark and rain-soaked winter week this Infiniti was here.

Safety

It’s top marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for Infiniti’s compact SUV, a performance which you’d expect from a recent redesign like the QX50.

Performance

Infiniti earns a technology win with the turbocharged four-cylinder engine bolted into all QX50s; it is the world’s production first with the ability to vary its compression ratio.

The range in ratios is 8:1 (for performance) to 14:1 (for efficiency). The ratio changes in real time as each piston rises and falls, as processors finely adjust the peaks according to the driver’s demands.

This feature is not detectable through the accelerator, or anywhere else; this QX50 Essential FWD exhibited smoothness commensurate with the luxury price, and the 268-horse output could quickly come on strong.

Response from the CVT transmission was not as sharp as previous gear-based units from Infiniti, which worked well and are keenly missed. Well-timed letups on the tested QX50’s go-pedal went a long way in reducing the rubber-band effect that could show itself on successions of steep hills.

Ride and handling

The tested QX50 Essential FWD had the $7,500 “Sensory Package”, which lugs a sculpted 20-inch wheel onto each corner. They contribute to a road presence that feels stable and comfortable. The suspension leans more toward ride comfort than firmness for cornering, making the QX50 a compliant cruiser.

Opting for the test car’s $2,000 “ProACTIVE Package” includes the “ProASSIST Package”, which where you’d find the steering and cruise control combination that automates the smaller decisions drivers make at higher speeds. The ProACTIVE package also includes Direct Adaptive Steering (DAC), which claims to continually learn and adjust to the driver’s inputs.

Seating

Front seats in the tested QX50 Essential FWD are broad and comfortable. The Sensory Package’s semi-aniline strips on the bolsters are an unexpected nice touch; your torso doesn’t contact them, but the underside of your arms can, and the delightful smoothness of the fabric against that sensitive area of your body adds to a feeling of luxurious coziness.

You’ll want to double-check front legroom on your QX50 test drive; it measures 39.6 inches, which was just enough for this torso-heavy six-footer, but any time that measurement dips below 40, you’ll want to dismiss the salesman and occupy the space for a few minutes, to see if it really suits you.

Rear legroom, on the other hand, approaches full-sized sedan territory, with nearly 39 inches for your lower parts. The seatbacks have individual contouring, and big windows provide scenic views.

Cargo

The rear seats fold to a nearly flat floor, and space is abundant: 31.1 cubic feet with the seats up, and 64.4 cubic feet with them down.

There’s plenty of cargo length, and the QX50 Essential FWD’s boxy body translates into an opening that’s tall and broad.

Run-flat tires are standard on all QX50s, and there’s no spare tire. But there are handy bins under load floor big enough for a gym bag and other items.

Infotainment and controls

This QX50 Essential’s driver environment felt substantial and welcoming. Curves and contours are tastefully drawn and detailed – like the soft inner fabric forming the cove for the lower center screen, which places rigid technology within a space that feels pliant and naturally-formed.

The lower screen has crisp graphics, and it’s surrounded by flanks of usefully-arranged hard controls.

Overall

This QX50 Essential FWD was a likeable addition to the BestRide test fleet. Its running gear bristles with innovation and delivers a driving experience commensurate with the tester’s knocking-on-$60K price.

The Sensory Package helps the QX50 Essential to exceed expectations and deliver a truly upscale experience for potentially many thousands of dollars less than you’d pay for a German competitor. That alone might be all that some luxury compact crossover buyers need to hear.

2019 Infiniti QX50 Essential FWD

Base price: 

Price as tested, including $995 destination charge: $55,285

Options:

Sensory Package: $7,500

  • Includes all Premium Audio & Premium Heat package features
  • Advanced Climate Control System
  • 20 x 8.5-inch, split 5-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels with 255/45R20 all-season, run-flat tires
  • Semi-aniline leather-appointed seating with climate-controlled front seats
  • Ultrasuede® headliner, A-pillars, and B-pillars
  • Natural Maple Wood interior trim
  • Motion activated liftgate
  • Unique cube design LED headlights
  • Adaptive front lighting system
  • Extended interior ambient lighting
  • 2-way passenger power lumbar support
  • Rear side window sunshades
  • Metallic cargo area finishers

ProACTIVE Package: $2,000

  • Includes all ProASSIST & Premium Heat package features
  • ProPILOT Assist: Steering Assist and Intelligent Cruise Control with Full-Speed Range and Stop and Hold
  • Blind Spot Intervention
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Lane Departure Prevention
  • High Beam Assist
  • Head-up Display
  • Direct Adaptive Steering
  • Park with Easy Steering

ProASSIST Package: $550

  • Backup Collision Intervention
  • Distance Control Assist
  • Intelligent Cruise Control
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert

Illuminated Kick Plates: $465

Welcome Lighting: $425

Likes:

  • Clean styling
  • Sensory Package’s upscale additions
  • Roominess

Dislikes:

  • Occasionally rubbery CVT response
  • Marginal front legroom
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