When the EX35 debuted in 2008, it was focused on the sports-end of the emerging segment. Its strong V6, relatively low center of gravity, and rear wheel drive layout (AWD optional) won the hearts of those who strongly felt that a crossover didn’t have to be a dull handling vehicle.
The first generation QX50 came from a simple name change in 2014 – from the EX37 – while the actual car received hardly an update. Because of this, many still refer to the 2018 model as the EX35 or EX37 and Infiniti’s crossover fell behind the leaders of the pack. That is all about to be forgotten as the new QX50 is entirely new.
The exterior styling represents a dramatic shift away from the smooth panels of its predecessor. Infiniti’s Powerful Elegance theme brings deep shapes and sharp lines – manufacturers apparently love to flaunt who can create the sharpest radii – and distinguishes itself from its competitors. The surface features all contribute to one cohesive athletic design.
A wide stance is emphasized by LED headlights and taillights that feature a long horizontal light bar that continues as a line that integrates the door handles while the lower part of the lighting clusters feature a swooping light bar that flows into the wheel arches. Large wheels are pushed out to the edges while a small tire to body gap signifies its on-road handling focus.
The balanced side profile features a long hood while the front overhang has been minimized, thanks to efficient packaging and an industry first application of highly formable high strength steel.
Inside, Infiniti continues to demonstrate their focus on a luxurious and consistent theme. The Japanese artistry theme brings liberal use of naturally contrasting colors and materials. The gear shift knob is a fine example of the attention to detail that that can be found throughout the cabin.
Compared to the previous model, the driver sits higher and there’s not likely to be a complaint about storage space. The 2nd row seat slides back far enough to offer 38.7 inches of legroom. Behind them, there is enough room for 3 golf bags with additional hidden under-floor storage compartments.
The QX50 also impresses with its advanced technology and feature content. Infiniti’s active safety suite, called ProPilot Assist, is now capable of operating by itself in stop and go and single lane highway driving situations. This system also comes equipped with Back-Up Collision Intervention, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and blind spot monitoring.
Front seats are heated and ventilated while the automatic climate control additionally features an ionizer and charcoal filter to deodorize and remove allergens from the air.
A coordinated series of four screens provide the driver with specific information: A head-up display is shown on the windshield, the information screen between the speedometer and tachometer, an 8-inch upper touchscreen, and a 7-inch lower touchscreen.
All of the expected connectivity features are available as are a 16-speaker Bose system, motion activated tailgate, and an surround-view camera system. An optional panoramic roof enhances the feeling of space in the cabin.
The most advanced bit of technology on this car may be within the engine where a mechanism enables variable compression ratios to maximize efficiency with high compression while then adjusting to allow maximum power with the help of a turbocharger and a lower compression. Active sound canceling works in conjunction with the specially designed engine and suspension mounts to reduce noise.
Fuel economy ratings for the AWD model are 26 MPG Combined which represents a 30% improvement and is slightly better than the less powerful X3 AWD with a four-cylinder turbo. It’s not clear yet how well the real world fuel economy aligns with the EPA’s ratings for this variable compression technology.
The only transmission is a CVT that receives paddle shifters. New is a fully electronic gear selection system, allowing a more efficient packaging and more design freedom for the shifter.
The optional AWD system is capable of sending 50% of the power to the rear wheels while the stability control system determines which wheel to brake to send power to the wheel with more traction.
Tuned for a comfortable yet motion-controlled ride, the struts were developed utilizing 3D printing for rapid validation, an Infiniti first.
Now in its 4th generation, the Direct Adaptive Steering system is now a vital part of the highly capable self-driving system. The steer-by-wire system reacts quicker to driver inputs than traditional mechanical systems and it can also provide the driver with additional isolation from potholes and other surface irregularities that naturally send a kick back through to the steering wheel. Perhaps most intriguing is the level of customization that is offered such as steering ratio and effort.
In all, it appears that this car is a going to be a homerun. It has just about all of the right features for today’s discerning global audience while maintaining its uniqueness within the segment.
In summary, look for this 2019 model to re-establish Infiniti as part of the conversation among the small luxury crossover crowd.