2019 Infiniti QX50 Essential AWD Ownership Review
We're spending 12 months with this Infiniti QX50, reviewing the full ownership experience with ongoing updates.
High compression equals high power? Not necessarily.
by Andy Bornhop on August 6, 2018
Current Odometer: 2,810 miles
Latest MPG: 20.96 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 23.11 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.00
Days out of Service: 0
First time in KBB’s new long-term 2019 Infiniti QX50, which I drove over the weekend. Because the variable-compression engine is this new crossover’s piece de resistance -- reportedly endowing this luxurious SUV with the fuel economy of a 4-cylinder, but the power of a V6 -- I arranged it so that the turbocharger boost and compression ratio would be displayed on the QX50’s instrument panel, right between the speedometer and tachometer.
For turbo boost, there’s a digital representation of an analog gauge, and at peak boost, it indicates about 15 psi. It’s easy to read, and it makes perfect sense.
On the side showing the new QX50’s variable compression ratio, the vertical graph is marked "Power" at the top and "Eco" at the bottom. Most people, it’s safe to say, will associate Power with high compression (14.0:1) and Eco with low (8.0:1).
That, however, is incorrect.
In the 2019 Infiniti QX50, Power actually is the low-compression setting and Eco is high. What gives? Aren’t cylinder heads milled to bump compression and raise power?
Traditionally, yes, but that’s not what’s happening here.
In the QX50, turbocharger boost is used to make power. For an engine to accept boost with reduced risk of harmful pre-ignition or detonation, the compression ratio is kept low. And during steady-state cruising on the highway, when boost typically isn’t needed, the VC-Turbo switches toward higher compression (Eco) as it squeezes all possible mileage out of every drop of premium-grade fuel.
You can see it while driving. In the Standard drive mode, if you take off slowly with gentle throttle and stay out of turbo boost, the compression ratio stays near the Eco setting (high engine compression). But when you drive with more normal amounts of throttle and turbo boost is produced, you’ll see the compression ratio automatically move toward Power (low engine compression) so the VC-Turbo can accept all that boost.
Also noteworthy: When I encountered a steep grade on my way to work, I kept the QX50’s throttle fairly consistent just to see what would happen. As load increased on the engine, I could see boost build and compression lower automatically, allowing the VC-Turbo engine to make better power without need for me to add a significant amount of throttle or turbo boost. It’s fascinating, this technology, and we can’t wait to see how the 2019 Infiniti QX50 fares during the rest of its long-term stay at KBB.com.
by Richard Homan on July 21, 2018
- Price: $49,685
- Powertrain: 268-horsepower 2.0-liter variable-compression turbocharged inline-4
- EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/30
For a compact luxury SUV that starts at around $37,500, we were a little surprised that our QX50 ran close to the $50,000 mark. In the end, we got the top-level Essential AWD which, as the name directly states, included the optional all-road/all-weather performance of all-wheel drive (AWD). Choosing a front-wheel drive (FWD) version of the QX50 -- the standard at every level -- will save you $1,800 to start, but won't save you much on long-term premium gasoline costs as the AWD carries barely any fuel-economy penalty.
Keep in mind, however, that you can equip an Essential QX50 that will reach as high as $58,000. On the other hand, Predictive Forward Collision Warning system (Infiniti says it can "see" two cars ahead, rather than the usual one) and automatic emergency braking come standard in every new QX50.
Tell me about that engine
The only engine available throughout the 2019 QX50 lineup is a new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that's capable of varying its compression ratios to deliver impressive power (268 horsepower and a doubly impressive 280 lb-ft of torque through the lion's share of the powerband), or stay off boost in favor of fuel economy -- estimated city/highway miles-per-gallon numbers are 24/31 for the FWD models and 24/30 with AWD.
Delivering that big power to the wheels is the job of a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
The 2019 Infiniti QX50 is living proof that you need to see a vehicle in person before you buy it. From many angles the little SUV looks gorgeous, but its exterior also provides other angles capable of splitting the beauty contest judges right down the middle.
The new SUV's interior, however, is a master's class in space management. The seats are comfortable, and even the tallest of our drivers noted that the compact SUV's interior never feels cramped. Even the rear seats allow for adult-sized passengers to ride without doubt of their comfort. Behind that second row, however, lies one of the most generous cargo areas in the class.
The "Essential" trim level means more standard features...
Choosing the Essential trim in a 2019 QX50 levels you up into an elite area of the QX50 universe where you've got access to features unavailable at the midrange "Luxe" and first-tier "Pure" trims. Our long-term QX50 came standard with plenty of luxury and high-tech benefits that you just can't get on the lower-trim versions. These top-shelf premiums include leather upholstery, navigation, the superstar-view Around View Monitor (a 360-degree birds-eye-view that makes parking and unparking precious simple), and tri-zone automatic climate control.
Also standard, but not exclusive to the Essential, is a legit, full-on 2-row-plus panoramic moonroof. Conspicuous by its absence, however, are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto -- the infotainment mainstays by which all cars appear to be judged these days.
...but we added some options, too
While our new QX50 didn't come with the semi-self-driving ProPILOT Assist, we did include ProAssist Package. One step below the ProPILOT Assist setup, ProAssist -- a bargain at just $550 -- delivers smart cruise control with Distance Control Assist, and rear cross-traffic alerts along with Backup Collision Intervention.
Somewhat less of a bargain at $1,200 was the Premium Heat Package (essentially heated front seats and steering wheel). If music means anything to you, we'd definitely recommend stepping up to the QX50 Essential's $900 16-speaker Bose Premium Audio Package for first-class sound. Naturally, we stepped right up.
In the coming months, you're invited to come aboard as we explore the 2019 Infiniti QX50, digging deeper into the new engine, listening louder to the Bose audio, driving it every day, and seeing what Infiniti's newest SUV is really like to live with in the real world.
Be sure to bookmark this page to get quick access, as we publish regular updates to this review.
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