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Infiniti QX50 is ‘new from road to roof’ for 2019


The 2019 Infiniti QX50 is defined by distinctive proportions which set the car apart. Influenced by Infiniti’s “powerful elegance" design language, the all-new QX50 has an elevated, commanding SUV stance and strong character lines. - INFINITI
The 2019 Infiniti QX50 is defined by distinctive proportions which set the car apart. Influenced by Infiniti’s “powerful elegance" design language, the all-new QX50 has an elevated, commanding SUV stance and strong character lines. - INFINITI

Luxury crossover’s engine ‘an engineering delight’

It is easy to pass the Infiniti QX50 off as just another good-looking luxury crossover. The styling is eye-catching, inside and out. But, lurking beneath that good-looking sheet metal is one of the most innovative departures yet for the internal combustion engine.

More on that truly unique engine in a moment. Let’s deal with the vehicle chosen to showcase it.

The 2019 Infiniti QX50 is new from road to roof. That’s a good thing, because the outgoing version was getting a bit long in the tooth. The result of an entirely new design theme. The new QX50 is shorter, wider and taller than the old one. It also sits six centimetres further off the ground, resulting in an aggressive and perhaps boxy look.

Resting atop a new platform, it has a new and more spacious interior. Equipped like the tester, with light coloured upholstery, there is an openness that is a refreshing departure from the dark and mostly black preferred by some. A dark dash top flows into the doors proving a clean separation from the lighter colours beneath. The overall impression is distinctly upscale.

The only downside is poor rear visibility. The sloping roofline, and shallow rear window may be stylish, but come at a cost. Thankfully the QX50 is equipped with one of the industry’s best camera systems. Not only does it give a crisp and clear picture of what’s behind — provided the lens isn’t covered by road grime — it provides a birds-eye view from above. The ability to look down is a great way to judge parking spots, but more importantly check for items or little people who might be near the vehicle.

The driver faces a conventional instrument display with crisp graphics that remain easy to read in bright sunlight. The centre stack is comprised of a pair of colour screens. The top one is for the infotainment, and navigation systems. The lower looks after climate control and a number of apps.

The front seats are Infiniti’s “Zero Gravity” units, providing an exceptional amount of both comfort and support, whether for long drives or heavy back-road thrashes. Thanks to additional legroom, there is plenty of space in back for two large adults. There is also more headroom than you would expect from such a steeply-sloped roofline.

 The 2019 Infiniti QX50’s multi-tone interior was inspired by a luxury resort hotel. - INFINITI
The 2019 Infiniti QX50’s multi-tone interior was inspired by a luxury resort hotel. - INFINITI

The rear seats slide through a 150-mm range, allowing a decision between maximizing cargo or occupant space. With regards to the latter, it is up almost 70 per cent compared to old QX50. With all seats in place there is 1,048 litres of space, with the second row folded flat, that grows to 1,699 litres. There is also a spacious bin available beneath the floor.

The stiffer new platform provided a more rigid mount for the suspension. This allowed the engineers to soften the ride slightly, without sacrificing handling.

The 2.0-litre VC (variable compression) turbo engine is an engineering delight. Nissan has come up with a way of combining good low-end grunt with excellent high-speed efficiency. In the simplest of terms, they have devised a way of altering how far the pistons travel up, and down within the cylinders.

By changing the stroke, they are able to alter the compression ratio through an 8:1 to 14:1 range. The low number allows maximum boost — and thus power from the turbo. The higher number brings diesel-like fuel efficiency. With 268-horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque, this is a four that acts like a six.

The engine is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission and an all-wheel-drive system. There is more than ample power, especially when accelerating from rest, and at lower speeds. The engine emits a pleasant growl under wide open throttle, and is fairly quiet the rest of the time. It is smooth at all times, and there is virtually no sense or sound to tell you it is anything out of the ordinary.

I found the CVT and VC engine at odds on a few occasions as the programming briefly tried to figure out what gear would be suitable. Infiniti claims a 30 per cent improvement over the 3.5-litre V6 used previously. I would take that with a grain of salt due to our less-than-flat roads in this region. But I am unable to report on representative fuel mileage due to weather conditions during the test period.

Americans can choose a less expensive front-wheel-drive version. They can have it. The QX50 tester provided an excellent example of how efficient and effective a modern AWD system is, combined with quality winter wear on all four wheels.

I was asked to fetch someone who had been abandoned at work when the bus service was shut down because of poor conditions during a storm. My passengers questioned my decision to take a route that included a very steep, and long hill. They actually gasped as I came to a complete stop halfway up, to allow an oncoming plow to pull around a parked vehicle. After he passed — with a wave of gratitude, I stepped lightly on the accelerator, and continued up the hill as if it were not there. Many questions and comments followed.

The 2019 Infiniti QX50 is a good looking, well-equipped luxury crossover — with a slick new engine.

 The 2019 Infiniti QX50 is a good looking, well-equipped luxury crossover. - INFINITI
The 2019 Infiniti QX50 is a good looking, well-equipped luxury crossover. - INFINITI

The specs

  • Model: 2019 Infiniti QX50 Essential
  • Engine: turbocharged, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, 258 horsepower, 280 lb.-ft. of torque, premium fuel recommended
  • Transmission: continuously variable automatic, all-wheel drive
  • NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 10 / 7.8
  • Length: 4,699 mm
  • Width: 2,161 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,800 mm
  • Weight: 2,513 kg
  • Price: $48,990 base, $60,685 as tested, including freight
  • Standard equipment: LED headlights, heated power mirrors, panoramic sunroof, heated seats, power windows, doors and locks, memory seats, mirrors and steering, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, intelligent key with push button start, around view monitor, park sensors, auto dimming mirror, automatic headlights, navigation system, drive mode select, wireless connectivity, tri-zone climate control, active noise cancellation, power tilt and telescope steering wheel, wiper deicer, blind spot warning, forward collision warning, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, predictive forward collision warning
  • Options on test vehicle: Proactive Package (backup collision intervention, distance control assist, rear cross traffic alert, steering assist, intelligent cruise control, blind spot intervention, lane departure warning and prevention, automatic high beams, heads-up display, easy park assist), $4,000; Sensory Package (20-in alloy wheels, premium grade leather, heated and cooled seats, passenger power lumbar, 16-speaker Bose audio system, motion activated liftgate, rear side window sunshades, advanced climate control, adaptive LED headlights, extended ambient interior lighting, leatherette accents, natural maple interior trim, ultra-suede headliners, metallic cargo area finishers) $3,500; Autograph Package (white premium grade leather, blue Ultrasuede accents, seat quilted stitching) $1,500

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