The Infiniti QX50 features a longer body for the 2016 model year, dramatically enhancing its utility. Rear-seat riders can rejoice, because the 2016 QX50 excels in second-row accommodations.
Pre-2016 QX50 models (including the earlier Infiniti EX) were lauded for being focused on the driver, but the back seats were considered to be cramped.
By adding 3.2 inches to the wheelbase, the 2016 Infiniti QX50 is suitable for four adults. Total interior space has grown, along with rear-seat knee room. The front seats, as before, offer plenty of room, with snugly bolstered backrests.
Changes for the 2016 model year, though extensive, are not easy to spot. The added length, absorbed visually in the rear doors, makes the QX50 look better. The primary difference is longer rear doors. Up front, the grille has been restyled, coupled with new LED foglamps and daytime running lights. New door mirrors incorporate LED turn-signal indicators. Restyled 18- and 19-inch wheels are available. Ride height has been increased by four-fifths of an inch.
Built on a Q50 sports-sedan chassis, the Infiniti QX50 hardly ranks as rugged or off-road capable. What it offers is an abundance of driving dynamics, resulting in responsive road manners. More than most rivals, the QX50 handles like a sports sedan. Ride comfort and handling prowess don’t quite match Infiniti’s sweetly balanced Q50 sedan, but the QX50 isn’t far off the mark, tilting favorably toward the sporty end of the spectrum.
Under the hood, a 325-horsepower V6 teams with an excellent 7-speed automatic transmission, providing quick responses. The transmission and engine work eagerly in unison, delivering a throttle-blip for rev-matching during downshifts. When pressed, the engine sounds loud and unrefined for a luxury vehicle.
Gas mileage is down slightly with the extended body, and isn’t very good for its class. The QX50 is EPA-rated at 17/24 mpg City/Highway, and 20 mpg Combined. Those figures might be more appropriate for a bigger, three-row SUV.
Formerly offered in four trim levels, the lineup has been simplified into two basic versions: rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.
QX50 ($34,450) has rear-wheel drive. Standard equipment includes a rearview camera; leather upholstery; power driver’s seat; cruise control; dual-zone automatic climate control; six-speaker audio with CD/MP3 capability, satellite radio, and Bluetooth hands-free phone; moonroof, pushbutton start, and universal garage door opener; and 18-inch aluminum wheels.
QX50 AWD ($35,850) adds all-wheel drive.
A $500 Premium package adds Bose 11-speaker audio, maple wood trim, and driver’s memory. Several safety-tech features, including lane-departure and forward-collision warnings, plus intelligent cruise control, are part of a $2,750 Technology Package. A new $2,000 Premium Plus package adds navigation, parking sensors, and surround-view cameras (useful because visibility is limited by dramatic rear-end styling).
Picking out the stretched 2016 QX50, compared to the previous model, isn’t so easy. In years past, the EX-then-QX50 has been perceived as a tall sports wagon, not a crossover SUV. Adding less than an inch to the ride height and a few inches to the rear doors didn’t change much, but it’s enough to make a difference.
Because it’s built on a proven sports-sedan foundation, no one should expect the QX50 to exhibit any hard-traveling SUV cues, and it doesn’t. Big wheel wells and widely flared fenders taper into a rakishly arching roofline. Because of some subtly sculpted surfaces, the tall roofline looks low. Lack of unnecessary details give the QX50 a clean look. A coupe-like profile and organic sheetmetal blend to make it one of the best-looking tall wagons.
Sophisticated, simple and tasteful, the QX50’s interior looks more streamlined than, say, an Acura RDX. Favoring rich tones, Infiniti shuns excessive detailing and brightwork. Contours are soft, and the cockpit-style layout wraps into a wide center stack. Instruments look refined and elegant, and the driver faces an abundance of buttons and controls. Matte-finished wood inlays and leather are complemented by soft-touch trim and soft-white lighting.
A seven-inch color display handles infotainment and vehicle information. Optional hard drive-based navigation brings a touchscreen, 3D graphics and lane guidance, as well as real-time traffic/weather information, and voice recognition. However, the system has an outmoded, lower-resolution look.
Snug, well-shaped front seats contain just the right amount of side bolstering, with higher cushions than in newer crossovers. Reshaped front seatbacks enhance leg room for rear passengers. Infiniti claims 3.9 inches more knee room.
Behind the second row is 18.3 cubic feet of cargo space. Folding it down requires merely touching a button in the cargo area, boosting volume to 50 cubic feet.
Lengthening the wheelbase and mounting lighter-weight wheels has smoothed the ride, which is firm and compliant, while maintaining the QX50’s familiar handling prowess. Steering is responsive, with authentic feedback, though its weight ramps up as you turn off-center.
Unlike some luxury crossovers, the QX50 is not set up to pamper drivers. After all, it’s built on a foundation that also serves the Nissan 370Z sports car and Infiniti’s own Q50 sports sedan. Handling and body control don’t match the Q50, but they’re impressive for a crossover SUV. Four-wheel disc brakes stop the QX50 decisively, without excessive dive or body motion.
Developing 325 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, the 3.7-liter V6 never feels short of power, and is well-matched to the 7-speed automatic. In fact, a QX50 performs with an eagerness not ordinarily found in this category. The transmission has a sport mode that yields slightly quicker shifts, but paddle shifters are not offered.
One long-standing issue has not been remedied: excess engine noise, especially for a luxury model. Not only is it present when accelerating, but also when you’re rolling modestly. Clearly, the V6 is comfortable when pushed hard, with peak power occurring at relatively high engine speed; but it announces its presence too much of the time.
With all-wheel drive, the QX50’s personality changes slightly. Specifically, a little of its nimble feel and precision erode, while gaining some helpful all-weather tractability.
While slimming down the lineup, Infiniti put plenty of standard features into the 2016 QX50. Still, a few items that are expected in the luxury league aren’t available at all, and active-safety features come in option packages. In our view, adding a Premium Plus package represents the best value, but the Technology group is worth considering.
Driving impressions by Marty Padgett, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.