The luxury compact crossover SUV market is fiercely competitive and as a result, Infiniti has stepped up its game with an all-new 2018 Infiniti QX50. The new platform boasts a transversely mounted engine which greatly increases cabin capacity and passenger comfort and positions the QX50 to take on rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3 and Lexus NX. Micah Muzio explains more in this Video Review and Road Test.

2019 Infiniti QX50 Video Transcript

The Infiniti QX50 is a stylishly-shaped luxury crossover competing for your attention against a growing cavalcade of compact entries like the Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 and Lexus NX. To clarify, the QX50 used to look like this, and way back in the day it was known as the EX35. But that's all history.

Is the modern QX50 properly equipped to compete in a foreboding luxury SUV landscape? Where interior appointments are concerned the answer is yes. Drawn in artfully sweeping flourishes, the cabin's materials are rich and varied. Just look at our test car metal, wood that looks like metal, vast seas of ultrasuede in both brown and ultra-dark blue, cream-colored diamond pattern leather seats. Granted much of this fanciness comes via the $2,000 Autograph package, but even minus top-trim materials, the interior is beautifully designed with excellent accommodations.

The front seats are comfortably shaped. There are welcome spots to rest my arms, and my utterly-average American frame fits with room to spare. The same holds true in back. If you slide the seat rearward, legroom competes with some midsize SUVs. Seats also recline, but with the door closed you have to brave a very narrow slot to operate the lever. I hope there's no spiders down there.

In a perfect world there'd be more space under the front seats to stretch our toes, but available rear shades and a cushy center armrest are nice distractions, and with the armrest up the center position is a more than acceptable short-term perch. The QX50 also wins where cargo is concerned, with a standard power tailgate, a low liftover, a large, square luggage area, supplemental underfloor storage, and smartly located seat releases. Note, with the optional front seat entry assist activated, you'll need to remove the portside headrest first, but with the seats dropped, cargo space expands to a sizable 65.1 cubic feet.

Before leaving the interior, let's talk about the infotainment system. It features an upper 8-inch touchscreen used primarily for parking and navigation, and a lower 7-inch touchscreen for climate, entertainment and app control along with a few buttons on the dash and a knob near the shift lever. Given the less than intuitive decentralized layout, this is the kind of interface that's best explored and understood while the vehicle is parked. Experience will help smooth any interface challenges, but a more vexing issue is the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, at least at the time this video was made. If you're watching this video in the future and Infiniti has figured out how to impart the QX50 with modern Smartphone integration like virtually every other carmaker, please ignore my annoyed face.

One particularly interesting aspect of the Infiniti QX50 is its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. That VC stands for variable compression. Using an electric motor and multi-link arms the engine can collectively raise or lower the pistons changing the compression ratio from 8-to-1 to an efficient 14-to-1 as demands require. The result is ample power and impressive fuel economy. Adding all-wheel drive for $1,800 drops that rating by a measly one-highway mpg. And yet with all that engine tech, power delivery is uneven. Even with a very steady right foot, the QX50 delivers surging waves of acceleration. If we must apportion blame let's direct it to the continuously variable transmission.

For maximizing performance and efficiency a CVT's infinite seamless ratios are great but, in this case, the CVT tries to emulate automatic transmission gear changes with less than stellar results. On a more positive note, mash the throttle and acceleration to 60 mph from a standstill, it's a reasonable 6.5-seconds or so. Acceleration aside, the QX50 is a quiet, smooth-riding, fine-driving machine.

On the safety front, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking comes standard, but Infiniti also offers ProPilot Assist, a suite of technologies including full-speed dynamic cruise control, lane departure warning, and backup collision intervention. In practice, I have experienced a few erroneous lane departure alerts, but as a fan of not being crashed into, I'm glad the QX50 has an electronic safety net for all the other drivers. Not me, I bring my A-game to this driving stuff. Right between the lines, see.

ProPilot Assist also integrates Infiniti's direct adaptive steering, which ditches the base car's traditional mechanically-connected steering for a digital steer-by wire system. Direct adaptive steering lets the QX50 make quick lane-keeping steering corrections. It reduces steering efforts when parking, and it allows different steering ratios and efforts depending on which drive mode is selected. Nonetheless, for natural, engaging steering feel it's hard to beat a physical connection, which this one doesn't have, which is why I'm not feeling so engaged, or natural.

If you're building a consideration list, you might want to include the quicker but pricier Audi Q5, the striking Cadillac XT5, the generally lovely Mercedes-Benz GLC or maybe the more efficient Lexus NX 300h Hybrid, but if the Infiniti QX50 has captured your heart, expect to pay around $37,500 including destination charges for a base trim with leatherette seating, intelligent key access, and 19-inch wheels. That places the QX50 on the low end of the compact luxury SUV pricing spectrum. Utterly loaded with all-wheel drive, fancy leather, a panoramic moonroof and a 360-degree camera system, the price rises to nearly $60,000.

Both inside and out, the Infiniti QX50 brings a metric-ton of style to the luxury SUV space. Is it perfect? No, but if you've got flaws it helps to be pretty.

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