New Infiniti QX50 shines inside and out

Gerry Miles/Staff photoThe new, five-passenger 2019 Infiniti QX50 crossover attracts admiration for its fashionable design, luxurious appointments, and advanced accessories.

A friend who had just dropped onto the passenger seat of the Infiniti QX50 I was driving took a moment to get settled.

She nestled an arm upon the sweeping, smoothly contoured and softly covered armrest on her door. She swept her free hand over the smooth lower protrusion of the dashboard in front of her, also softly covered. Her gaze traced the sensuous slow descent of the center armrest where it merged with the console between front seats, there ascending in arcs and curves to wrap the center stack of controls composed of two, tiered display screens and some discrete buttons.

At last she said with a tone of admiration, “there’s a lot more room in here than you expect when you see it from the outside.”

She was speaking of more than just the well proportioned occupant space inside the QX50. She meant that its accommodations overall were pleasing, as she had shown a moment before by admiring them for so long.

The whole episode showed how the medium-sized Infiniti crossover wagon is an auto that attracts attention. Introduced a little more than 12 months ago as a 2019 model, this year’s QX50 is a new, next-generation wagon with an elegantly expressive body shape, and a high-fashioned interior that is comfortable and accommodating. The luxury cruiser offers travel-easing advanced driving aids, as well as precise and powerful performance.

The Infiniti’s starting list price is $37,645 for a front-drive model. All-wheel drive, a near-universal option around here, adds $2,000. Infiniti is the luxury brand of the Japan-based car company Nissan.

Brian Heney sees the qualities of the new QX50 attracting people at Kelly Infiniti in Danvers.

“Shoppers are pleased when they see the QX50,” he said. “They view it as a cut above, with its beautiful interior, and also its advanced technology and superior ride quality.”

Heney is chief operating officer of the Kelly Automotive Group, A Danvers-based family of eight North Shore and Merrimack Valley dealerships. In addition to the Infiniti store, it operates Kelly Jeep Chrysler Dodge Ram in Methuen, Kelly Ford in Beverly, Kelly Infiniti and Kelly Volkswagen in Danvers, Kelly Honda in Lynn, Kelly Jeep Chrysler and Kelly Nissan in Lynnfield and Kelly Nissan in Woburn.

Its dimensions place the QX50 officially in the compact category of crossover sport-utility vehicles. But as my passenger observed, the new Infiniti doesn’t seem compact. You can justifiably think of it as a middle-sized wagon.

That’s not just because its five-passenger cabin is so spaciously accommodating in both front seats and back – with back seats that slide fore and aft to provide generous rear-rider leg room, ahead of an expansive, hatched-in cargo area that can handle a lot of luggage. Also the QX50 has an imposing body design that makes it stand out as something more than a small crossover.

That’s not to say it looks large. The QX50 is a tidy size that provides sharper responses and more adroit maneuvering than you’ll find in large and imposing, more upright sport-utilities. But the high creases flanking the hood, intersecting with the low-sloping pillars around the windshield, with the roof beyond that dropping slowly toward the rear, gives the new Infiniti a more elongated, lower-slung look than you’ll find in more typical crossovers. I thought the QX50 looked very much like a station wagon, which is the right posture for a car that is more a high-style cruiser than an off-road bruiser.

“The buyers we are seeing are typically educated and image conscious,” noted Heney of Kelly Automotive. A large percentage are previous drivers of models from other luxury brands, including Acura, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz, he said.

“The QX50 is very attractive to them, with design and interior appointments that attract a wide variety of buyers,” Heney stated.

Infiniti sells the QX50 in three levels, with the all-wheel-drive option available at each. Base equipment includes leather coverings on steering wheel and gear selector and synthetic leather seat upholstery (with leather upholstery at the top level), frontal collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, back-up camera, the two stacked touch-screen monitors for controlling entertainment, communication and cabin climate, Bluetooth device linkage and voice recognition.

The highest priced QX50, called the Essential model and listing at $46,445 when four-wheel traction is added, can be purchased with extra-cost options that represent the most advanced driving aids available. The Infiniti ProPilot Assist package, at $550, brings rear cross-traffic monitoring, backup collision avoidance, distance control and distance-keeping cruise control. Adding another $2,000 for the ProPilot Active package equips the QX50 with automatic steering, full-speed-range automatic cruise control, and other capabilities. Together, those technologies enable the auto to automatically stay in a single lane and safely follow leading traffic, avoid blind-spot crashes, and more.

“Technologies like those will only become more prominent and mainstream in the future. Drivers are looking to them for aid in their day-to-day driving. It is definitely a selling point for the QX50,” said Heney.

Infiniti also worked some technological wizardry with the engine of the new QX50. The turbocharged motor uses a new approach to change the compression inside its four cylinders according to driving demands. It increases pressure inside the cylinder during steady cruising conditions, when the higher pressure maximizes both power and efficiency. During acceleration, cylinder pressure automatically decreases, enabling the engine handle the power demand while still operating efficiently.

The result is an output of 268 horsepower. The QX50 transmits that to its wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission.

During a long road trip in the new Infiniti, I chose the economy setting of the car’s selectable drive modes, in order to save gas across the many miles I drove. That cut the model’s quick response, making it feel sluggish when I wanted a sudden burst of speed.

Of course, that driving mode was my choice. I could have a selected the sport mode, which would have goosed response. In the end, I was pleased with the nearly 30 miles per gallon fuel-use rate that the QX50 provided. It was a good boost over the model’s official rating of 26 mpg in mixed, city/highway driving.

What’s more, whenever the power lag from my economy-mode selection ended, the engine flung the car forward with noticeable gusto after its initial delay.

On top of that, the attention the Infiniti QX50 garnered from its high-fashion looks and lavish cabin more than compensated.

Jeffrey Zygmont is an author of fiction, non-fiction and poetry books, and a long-time auto writer. Contact him at www.jeffreyzygmont.com.

2019 Infiniti QX50

Vehicle type: 4-door, 5-passenger, front- and all-wheel-drive compact crossover utility vehicle

Price range: $37,645 to $46,445 (plus options)

Warranty: 4 years/60,000 miles basic warranty; 6 years/70,000 miles powertrain warranty; 7 years/unlimited miles corrosion warranty; roadside assistance

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4

Power: 268 horsepower at 5,600 rpm; 280 lb.-ft. torque at 4,400 rpm

Transmission: continuously variable automatic

Fuel economy: 24 mpg city; 30 mpg highway (with AWD)

Wheelbase: 110 inches

Length: 185 inches

Width: 75 inches

Height: 66 inches

Weight: 3,810 pounds

Fuel capacity: 16.0 gallons

Turning circle: 36.4 ft.