Small Luxury SUV Comparison: 2016 Infiniti QX50

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A seasoned player that still knows how to punch.

 

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Starting MSRP: $35,445

Above Average: Sporty driving dynamics, power, value

Below Average: Fuel economy, cargo room, technology

Consensus: The entry-level luxury SUV for drivers who prioritize handling and power over the latest technology. 

500 Miles in 132 Words

In this comparison test of fresh new luxury SUVs, the Infiniti QX50 felt like the star of Rocky. And we don't mean the youthful Stallone of the original or even the one who battled that hulking Russian in Rocky IV. This Infiniti is more akin to Rocky Balboa, where the old guy re-enters the ring to show the upstart what he's got. Turns out, it's still a lot. Though heavily revamped for 2016, the Infiniti QX has the oldest and least efficient engine. But that's because it's a naturally aspirated V6 amid a sea of turbo-4s. And with 325 horsepower, it easily packs the most punch. Combine that grunt with a rear-drive layout and sport-minded suspension, and you have a performance car masquerading as a crossover SUV -- all at a bargain price.

A Closer Look

As with the other three small luxury SUVs in this test, the 2016 Infiniti QX50 has its highs and lows. Here's how it stacks up in nine major categories:

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Highway Driving  
The QX50 ranked only above the Lexus NX in highway manners, according to our testers. This luxury crossover's sport-minded suspension meant a stiffer ride over uneven pavement. On long highway stretches, our editors liked the QX50's adaptive cruise control, but weren't as thrilled with our vehicle's blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning systems. "A bit more hyperactive than I care to deal with," one remarked.

City Driving  The Infiniti tied the NX and Mercedes-Benz GLC in in-town driving, with the Lincoln MKC edging its trio of rivals thanks to having the smallest footprint of the bunch. But the QX50 is still a snap to drive in urban areas. Its tidy 37.2-foot turning radius also made it easy to snag small parking spots. And if you're not a fan of engine start/stop systems -- which perform the majority of their work on stoplight-riddled roads -- you won't have to worry about hitting the defeat switch in the Infiniti. It's old but trusty V6 doesn't use that technology.

Sporty Driving  Here we get to this luxury crossover's wheelhouse. The Infiniti QX50 is among the most fun-to-drive SUVs you can buy, and certainly the most joyous of this bunch when the road starts to wind. Thank two main factors: A hearty, naturally aspirated V6 and rear-wheel drive. If this sounds like the ingredients for a performance sedan, you're right. It's the same setup that has long worked so well for the Infiniti G37 (now Q50). In fact, the QX50 (until recently known as the Infiniti EX) should best be thought of as a taller Q50 hatchback. We also like the sound of the Infiniti's well-regarded V6 and how well it worked with the 7-speed automatic transmission. If only there were steering-wheel-mounted paddles for a true sports car-like experience.   

Interior Appeal  The QX50 has a refined albeit slightly snug cockpit. Leather upholstery is standard, as are heated front seats and a power moonroof. Overall fit and finish is top-notch. That "cockpit" descriptor is apt here, as the curved dash design in front of the driver and passenger has a jet-like quality about it. This is only amplified by a central dash that is busy with buttons and knobs for climate, audio and navigation functions. A central-mounted analog clock lends an air of sophistication.

Infotainment  The Infiniti QX50 doesn't offer the latest tech and connectivity features like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility, and the optional navigation and infotainment system as a whole is starting to look dated. That said, our version of Rocky still has some neat tricks. Infiniti was among the first brand to offer a bird's-eye view rearview camera system, and it still works wonderfully here. And while the center dash is brimming with buttons and knobs, we like the redundancy offered. For example, the optional navigation system can be controlled via touchscreen or various buttons, and entering destination addresses was surprisingly quick and easy.

Rear Seat Room  This year's revamp increased rear-seat space considerably, with the QX50's roughly 4-inch increase in length translating directly to rear-seat legroom. That rectified one of the biggest shortcomings in previous models. Now, the second row easily accommodates adults. Additionally, a low step-in height translates to easy entry, no acrobatics needed.

Cargo Room  The QX50 trips in terms of how much it can store in the back, with this model having the least amount of space in back. Despite its now larger exterior size, the Infiniti QX50's 18.6 cubic feet of space remains the same. If there's any redemption, it's that the rear seats are effortless to fold. In fact, this test model's rear seats can be lowered and raised with the flick of a switch. It's as if Infiniti's planners said, "Yeah, we know cargo space is lacking. So we'll make it easy to expand via readily folding rear seats." One convenience feature we all wished for -- and available on the Infiniti's three rivals here -- was a power tailgate.

Fuel Economy  The Infiniti has the least-efficient powertrain of this bunch, hardly a surprise given it's a 3.7-liter V6, compared with the smaller turbocharged 4-cylinder units employed by its rivals. The cost of the Infiniti's grin-inducing power are fuel economy figures of 17 mpg city/24 highway. If it's any consolation, all-wheel-drive models get the same EPA rating.

Resale Value  The 2016 Infiniti QX50 isn't just a great value when new. With residuals just shy of those of the Lexus, the QX50's resale value is expected to hold up quite well in the coming years.

Inside and Out: 2016 Infiniti QX50

 

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