The 2023 Infiniti QX50 struggles against its luxury-grade classmates despite pleasant looks and stylish interior. Infiniti’s compact SUV is compromised by a lackluster complex, variable-compression turbocharged four-cylinder, which fails to deliver the promised advantages in fuel economy or performance. Competitors with conventional turbocharged fours such as the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3 xDrive30i accelerate quicker and are equally parsimonious with fuel. Dynamically, the QX50 skews toward comfort rather than sportiness, which should be a non-issue for most buyers. What they get instead of athleticism and driver engagement is a smooth ride and a quiet cabin. The QX50 delivers stylish looks and an upscale interior ambiance, but it lacks the substance needed to thrive against its top-ranked competitors.
Where This Vehicle Ranks
What's New for 2023?
The 2023 QX50 carries over from the previous model year mostly unchanged. We expect Infiniti to offer the QX50 in the same array of trim levels as last year, though they may be slightly more expensive.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Barring any significant changes to trim-level structure or equipment packaging, we think the mid-level Essential will continue to be the best choice. There's also a decent amount of standard equipment, including a 360-degree camera system, heated front seats, front parking sensors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and more. Upgrading from the lesser Luxe model unlocks more options, too. We think the Convenience package is worth selecting since it ups the luxury quotient with a power-adjustable steering column, a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, and enhanced memory settings. That said, those who want all-wheel drive should expect to dole out another $2000.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Since its redesign for the 2019 model year, every QX50 has been powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that uses variable compression—called VC-Turbo. The engine makes 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque and pairs with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that directs power to either the front or all four wheels. The engine seamlessly swaps between high compression during steady cruising and low compression during hard acceleration. While it never exhilarates when the pedal hits the metal, only those seeking a seriously quick crossover will be disappointed. Unfortunately, the engine is loud under heavy throttle, and the CVT makes this worse, especially around town. The Infiniti prioritizes comfort and luxury, with a compliant ride that is composed on rough roads and smooth on the highway. While the steering wheel provides little communication with the road surface, it has accurate reactions and light effort. Unfortunately, the Infiniti's soft brake pedal operates inconsistently. This leads to more than one shoddy stop in rush-hour traffic where the QX50's nose dives forward under heavy braking. Still, it only needed a competitive 164 feet to stop from 70 mph in our emergency-braking test.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Despite a so-called revolutionary engine touted as maximizing both power and fuel economy, our test vehicle was less efficient than advertised during real-world testing. The front-wheel-drive QX50 is rated at 23 mpg city and 29 highway while the all-wheel-drive version has estimates of 22 mpg city and 28 highway. All these estimates align with the similarly equipped BMW X3 and Volvo XC60, but that's disappointing when you consider the VC-Turbo engine is intended to be more efficient than traditional alternatives. The last all-wheel-drive QX50 we tested on our 75-mph fuel-economy route—part of our extensive testing regimen—fell short of its highway estimate and returned 27 mpg in the real world. For more information about the QX50's fuel economy, visit the EPA's website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, the QX50 can be fitted with quilted leather seats, wood interior trim, and a faux-suede headliner. However, these upscale appointments are available only on the most expensive model. Still, every QX50 has a comfortable and quiet cabin that includes a spacious second row with reclining seatbacks that proved to be a highlight of the 2019 QX50 that we had in our long-term test fleet. The QX50 has 31 cubic feet behind the back seat and up to 65 cubes with the 60/40 split-folding rear bench folded flat. We managed to fit nine carry-on suitcases with the seats up and 22 with them down. Both results were two more than the X3 held. While our top-of-the-line test vehicle had the motion-activated power liftgate, none of the lower trims has this useful feature.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The dual-touchscreen infotainment system will bother some more than others. We also were annoyed that the heated steering wheel and custom drive-mode settings are only accessible through this interface. While we appreciated the familiar volume knob, the rotary controller on the center console only operates the top screen. Every model has Android Auto, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot. A 16-speaker Bose audio system and mobile hotspot are also optional. Our test vehicle did have several power points, with three USB ports up front and multiple 12-volt outlets, including one in the cargo area.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Every QX50 has a host of standard driver-assistance technology that includes lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. For more information about the QX50’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
- Standard adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Although many luxury brands offer complimentary scheduled maintenance, Infiniti does not. It does provide competitive limited and powertrain warranties, along with four years of roadside assistance.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers six years or 70,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2019 Infiniti QX50 Essential AWD
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
PRICE AS TESTED
$59,085 (base price: $46,145)
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, port and direct fuel injection
120–122 in3, 1971–1997 cm3
268 hp @ 5600 rpm
280 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
continuously variable automatic
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 13.0-in vented disc/12.1-in vented disc
Tires: Bridgestone Ecopia H/L 422 Plus RFT, P255/45RF-20 101V M+S
Wheelbase: 110.2 in
Length: 184.7 in
Width: 74.9 in
Height: 66.0 in
Passenger volume: 102 ft3
Cargo volume: 31 cu ft3
Curb weight: 4164 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Rollout, 1 ft: 0.3 sec
60 mph: 6.4 sec
100 mph: 17.3 sec
130 mph: 41.6 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 7.3 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.9 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 4.7 sec
¼-mile: 15.0 sec @ 94 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 137 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 173 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.84 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 22 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 26/24/30 mpg