Auto123 reviews the 2020 Infiniti QX50 in a long-term test drive. Today, Part 5, the finale.
After four chapters of our long-term review of the 2020 Infiniti QX50, which included more poking and prodding than an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, we arrive at the only question that matters: Does this SUV constitute a smart buy? Does the buyer get their money’s worth?
The total price of our Sunstone Red-coloured QX50 as tested was $60,393, including $2,095 in transport and preparation and the one $1,200 option, that noted transparent triple-coat paint finish that, I have to admit, is pretty spectacular.
A quick look-see at the www.infiniti.ca website tells us furthermore that the QX50 is available in four versions, called Luxe, Essential, Sensory (our tester) and Autograph. The starting-price parade starts at $47,705 and crosses the finish line at $62,158.
A relevant question, of course, is how this compares to the competition. And the category consisting of models whose formats toggles between compact and midsize is well-populated. Think of, for instance, the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus NX and Mercedes-Benz GLC. Think some more and you come up with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Cadillac XT4, Lincoln Corsair and Volvo XC60, and with apologies to my age I’m forgetting some.
The first notable element all these models have in common with the Infiniti QX50 is that all come with a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo base engine (though three of its rivals also include an explosive V6 (SQ5 and M Competition) or diabolical V8 (AMG G3 S) in their product offering).
The second way they match up is that most come with a base price in the $45,000-$47,000 range, with the exception of the Mercedes ($49,000) and BMW ($53,000) models.
In terms of pricing, then, Infiniti did its homework with the QX50. It’s competitive with its rivals. But how does it stand out, is something we also want to know. Well, one way is that compared to the first five competing models listed above, the Infiniti is the only one to rely on a CVT transmission – the exception being the hybrid version of the Lexus NX.
We normally associate CVTs with vehicles trying to minimize fuel consumption, so obviously a hybrid model falls into that category. The QX50 is not that, but it relies on a “revolutionary” variable-compression engine in a bid to reduce its thirstiness at the pump. As we’ve seen in our long-term review, the results are mixed on that front.
My excellent Nova Scotian adventure concluded with a total fuel-consumption figure (using Superior-octane gasoline) of around 10L/100 km. The best news was that I lowered that figure to 9.5L/100 km as soon as I left the highway in favour of smaller roads and Main streets, which are both much more favorable grounds for a CVT. Still not in the ballpark of the 7.2L/100 km of the Lexus NX 300h (hybrid), but equal to or better than competitors.
The bottom line…
So what do we have here, with this QX50? An SUV that looks like a sprinter especially with its beautiful lines and scintillating red dress, but the VC-Turbo and CVT of which content themselves with just flirting mildly with the notion of sportiness. This while delivering a level of fuel economy I’d call “meh”, which kind of puts the kibosh on the description of the powertrain’s technology as revolutionary.
And so, if I’m being honest, I acknowledge my slight disappointment at what I see as the QX50 sitting somewhere between two chairs. Over here are its devilishly debonair looks, and over there is its hardware designed to reduce fuel use. At times, these two qualities get into an argument, and can be quite stubborn about it.
That said, there is a way to maximize one’s enjoyment of the Infiniti QX50, and here it is: if you’re gentle with it, it will take you where you want to go in a high-quality cocoon and bathe you in its many qualities. Its smooth ride in normal situations and the elegance of its interior environment then do justice to a powertrain that’s happiest when you’re nice to it.
In other words, if you’re able to appreciate the beauty of the QX50’s appearance and not race it between red lights, you’ll fall into a state of well-being and peace of mind, as will your passengers, whether you’re on a long road trip or spending an hour sitting in traffic.
Maybe I managed to find that state of well-being, because after I handed back the keys to the 2020 QX50 that had served me well for the previous two months, I quickly missed the SUV. But then, life is about looking forward isn’t it, and forward means an upcoming test drive of the future Infiniti QX55.
Yes, Infiniti has chosen to provide the QX50 with a little brother, one that’s even sexier in appearance. The new coupe-style SUV model has a roofline that slopes even more and a back end that’s even more athletic, and it is set to launch commercially in the spring, bringing some more spice to the Infiniti lineup. Just like Mercedes-Benz and BMW did with their X4 and GLC Coupe, respectively.
The 55 will surely lose a few litres of cargo space compared to the 50 due to its sleeker profile. And it will, like its sibling, feature the distinct turbo engine Infiniti is steadfast in its commitment to. Yes, the automaker seems intent with its QX line of SUV models on forcing buyers to make some hard decisions when it comes time to choosing their next premium ride.