Auto123 reviews the 2022 Infiniti QX55.
The all-new Infiniti QX55 crossover-coupe may share a lot of bits with the QX50 crossover, but the QX55 is aimed at a younger buying group, according to Infiniti. It’s a type of buyer that likes some swoopy styling and practicality be darned. They like a good-looking car that drives well, and Infiniti has set out to deliver just that.
Inside, the QX55 loses a couple of millimetres of front headroom compared to its squarer sibling but it’s not enough to notice; I had no problem wearing a baseball hat and looking up without jamming my bill into the headliner. The seating position in the Zero-Gravity seats developed in partnership with NASA is right on, meanwhile. I expected to be tilted back a bit because I thought the styling of the vehicle warranted that but that’s not the case at all, and the seats are very comfortable and supportive. However, the fact they’re adjustable only eight ways means certain body types could find a hard time finding that perfect balance.
After that, the way you interact with the vehicle depends on how much you can get on with two enormous screens that make up the centre console. They’re big and bright but luckily for the traditionalists, you don’t have to use the touchscreen for everything as there are traditional physical buttons down each side for the climate control, seat heating/cooling controls and media controls. And of course, there’s support for Android Auto and - for the first time in an Infiniti - wireless Apple CarPlay, although since there’s no wireless charging, it makes that last feature a little less useful than it would otherwise be.
It should come as no surprise that the rear seats have lost a little more space to the QX50 than the fronts, but the QX55 does get reclining rear seatbacks as well as the ability to slide the seat fore and aft. Even with my 6’3” frame, I could make my way back there.
Being able to slide those seats also helps the cargo area in that you can increase the length of the load floor. Which is good, because thanks to that sloping rear tailgate, you can’t pile your wares quite as high back there; the QX55 loses 127 litres of cargo room to the QX50.
So you sacrifice a little bit of practicality for the sake of style but that all fades as soon as you start the QX55. It all comes down to that engine, which is a gem of a powerplant.
It’s the second time we’ve seen Infiniti’s variable-compression turbo 4-cylinder (VC-Turbo) in Canada and it turns the neat trick of delivering the fuel economy of a diesel alongside the performance and smooth operation of a gasoline turbo. They accomplish that by doing exactly what the name suggests: changing the compression ratio anywhere from 8:1 to 14:1 in the blink of an eye.
That’s the idea in theory. In practice, it provides bona-fide performance CUV (or even performance car) acceleration and speed thanks to its 268 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque fed through a CVT auto transmission through to all four wheels. Yes, it has a CVT – a transmission type that typically doesn’t provide that much drive involvement – but Infiniti has tuned their CVT and given it some “virtual” shift points selected via wheel-mounted paddles, so it feels like few other CVTs I’ve tried before from Honda, Subaru, Nissan and Jeep. The manufacturer says they’ve also tuned the CVT differently from that of the QX50 because the buyers they’re aiming at would appreciate it. I know I do.
The result of all this is that this is an absolute cracker of a crossover that moves a lot faster than the numbers suggest. I’ve heard colleagues suggest they’d do well to provide a plug-in hybrid or hybrid option, but I’m not so sure it needs it. The QX50 may be a different story because of its target audience, but having to add hybrid running gear to the QX55 would cost more space – likely in the cargo area – in addition to what’s already been lost from the QX50.
Of course that gear would also add extra weight, which would surely upset the handling and you wouldn’t want that, as aside from just a touch more body roll than I expected, the QX55’s handling is spot on, though you do have to trust it.
I say that because like many Infinitis, the QX55 uses a steer-by-wire system. Basically, that means there’s a clutch between the wheel and front axle, and driver inputs are received electronically and then instructions are transmitted to the front axle. What this does is make for steering that lets you individually adjust both the weight and responsiveness.
That’s great and the differences can readily be felt, but it does cost a bit of communication between the front wheels and steering wheel, so you have to learn to trust how it will respond to your inputs.
In additional to the baked-in drive modes such as Standard and Sport, there’s also Personal, which lets you set your own parameters. This is all done via menus displayed on the lower of the two screens, which works well.
I don’t love, however, that you have to use that same screen to turn various driver aids on and off. I’d rather do that via hard buttons or at least via a menu within the gauge cluster, as that means you don’t have to look as far away from the road ahead of you.
Speaking of driver aids, there are many: blind spot assist and intervention, lane-centering assist, lane-keep assist, forward collision assist and so on. It’s great that we have these, but only a few can be changed via quick-access hard buttons. And the one that I wish was via button but isn’t, is lane-keep assist. I find LKA systems annoying because they too often bounce off the lines, and I’d love to be able to just press a button—on the wheel, the dash, so on – to deactivate it.
That’s a minor quibble, though. The QX55 set out to “grow down” Infiniti a little and judging by the interest shown (from a distance, of course!) of many thirtysomethings during my test drive shows that it has the look. Infiniti has also shown me that they’re on to something in the performance department.
VC-Turbo engine is fantastic
Zero Gravity seats
We like less
Little feel to the steering
Shallow cargo area
Audi Q5 Sportback
Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe