San Diego, CA— When we blabber on about hybrids in the auto industry, we are inevitably talking about vehicles who use a combination of gas and electric motorization. However, I think there is a brand new breed of hybrid emerging in the auto world these days: vehicles that blur the lines between segments and cater to needs across the board.
Enter the new 2016 Infiniti QX50.
Their slogan is “the crossover that drives like a coupe.” And they aren’t lying. Here’s a manufacturer being quite honest about the intentions of their vehicles, and the QX50 is very much a crossover that drives, feels and behaves like a coupe.
What’s actually new about it?
Well, Infiniti made some exterior tweaks to the QX50 that include a lower front bumper and revised grille along with LED daytime running lights, as well as a revised rear that ties in with the rest of the Infiniti lineup and really ties the family all together.
Overall, the 2016 Infiniti QX50 is wider, longer, and larger inside; Infiniti even raised the ride height by 20mm. Don’t think any of that is a bad thing, though (I’ll get to that in a moment). Inside, the Infiniti QX50 feels absolutely cavernous. While the trunk space remains the same at 527 litres, the overall interior space has increased by 234 litres, and it’s noticeable.
It’s also interesting to note that a feature normally reserved for larger, higher-end models in the Infiniti lineup -- power rear-folding seats -- is now available on the 2016 Infiniti QX50; a first for the segment.
Also new for this generation of Infiniti QX50 is the elimination of the shorter wheelbase. The QX50 will only be available as a LWB here in Canada, and only be available with AWD. In the US market, a RWD version is available.
Does it really drive like a car?
The thing is, it really does. The main reason it does is because of the steering that deceptively feels like their DAS (Direct Adaptive Steering) system, but is actually a hydraulic system. It's amazing. I'm a huge fan of the way the steering feels, and could not stop raving about it on the twisty, turn-y, California coastal roads. Seriously, this little thing can boogie because it can handle.
Sure, the 3.7L V6 with 325 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque is great, especially coupled with a 7-speed automatic transmission, but it really is the steering that takes the cake here. With a rear-wheel bias, the 2016 QX50 is a pleasure to throw around. Gears are found with ease, and if you sport the transmission into “Sport” mode the gears are held longer and shifting on your own (with the shifter as no paddle shifters are available) will elicit a perfect downshift with rev blip for a smooth transmission.
Save for sitting higher in the seat (something I actually got annoyed with as I couldn’t lower myself into the car enough and could still see the hood, a pet peeve of mine), the 2016 Infiniti QX50 feels every bit a coupe no matter where you throw. However, should you want to traverse some dirt-road lemon groves (as I saw a few colleagues do), then you can most certainly do that, too.
I think that’s the 2016 Infiniti QX50’s most alluring quality: We want one product to do it all. We want one thing to be all things to us. Think about your phone. How much do you want it to do for you? Everything. You want the same from your car. So, Infiniti has blended the soul of a car into the body of a practical and roomy CUV. And they’ve done it with aplomb, and precision. Kudos.
A few gripes
Despite this glowing review, there are a few issues with the 2016 Infiniti QX50, and they are all issues that have plagued Infiniti across its lineups. The packages are expensive and unchangeable. If you want the full safety kit (lane departure, laser guided cruise, front collision warning, etc.) you need to opt for the top trim, which hovers near the $50k mark (as per the car I drove).
And while the base model is well-equipped, it’s missing features that seem mundane and normal across the segment such as a power liftgate, and three-blink turn signal feature (neither of which are available at all across any of the three trim levels of the QX50).
With a starting price of $37,900, the 2016 Infiniti QX50 lines itself up with the likes of the RDX and NX. Having driven both recently, I can say that the Infiniti definitely feels the best (though the RDX’s engine/transmission is typically Honda and so is a very, very close second). It truly is the Infiniti’s handling that sets it apart and really makes an impression on the driver.
Dare I say it’s, fun? Yup, I dare.