Since Infiniti changed the names of its model lines to make buyers’ lives easier, getting your bearings hasn’t been easy. We know that Q is used to designate cars and QX is for SUVs, but there’s nothing terribly straightforward about the rest. So in case you didn’t realize it, the QX50 is the old Infiniti EX, a compact SUV that has been on the market since 2008. Its competitors include the Acura RDX and Lexus NX.
Once undisputed as the smallest and most adorable SUV from Nissan’s luxury brand, the QX50 will soon lose this title to the brand new QX30, which follows the latest trend of subcompact SUVs and will be unveiled at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show.
A very subtle makeover
The QX50 will undergo a slight makeover this year. The changes will be mainly esthetic and concentrated primarily on the front end. The designers tacked on several of the Q50 sedan’s style features, in particular the double-arch grille. The fog lights have been redesigned and the hood is a little more plunging, which diminishes the model’s “SUV effect” somewhat.
Changes to the tail end, like modified bumpers and taillights, are also very subtle. New 19-inch rims make it a little more dynamic, but you’ll have to settle for a rather subdued selection of body colours. If you’re into bright, flashy colours, you’re going to be disappointed.
A little higher, a little bigger, a little pricier
The passenger compartment remains charted territory. The dashboard is the same, save for a few minor modifications here and there. What does the QX50 have that the others don’t? Power folding rear seats and a coat hook behind the driver’s headrest. The seats are comfortable, though somewhat high, even at their lowest setting. We would have liked to be able to sink into the vehicle a little more. As for the finish quality and attention to detail, Infiniti is as meticulous as ever.
The main change to the model has to do with its wheelbase, which has been extended by 80 millimetres. The goal wasn’t necessarily to change the vehicle’s driving dynamics, but rather to make it a little roomier inside. Rear seat passengers benefit the most from this increase, with more legroom to enjoy. The QX50 also sits 50 mm higher overall.
Speaking of increases, the price has gone up from $34,950 to $37,900, a hike justified by a slightly improved equipment level that now includes a sunroof.
That notwithstanding, the QX50 is more affordable than its closest rivals, but don’t be fooled: the options packages will make the price climb quickly, with the most posh model reaching $47,800. The only problem is that if you want specific equipment, the only way to get it is to opt for a full bundle of options packages that, in some cases, require you to take another package too. You want the navigation system? Well, you’ll have to opt for the Premium and Navigation Packages, which will push the price of the QX50 to more than $45,000. You don’t want the 19-inch wheels, maple trim or the 11-speaker Bose sound system that go with it? Too bad! It’s a shame but several choices are mandatory.
Only one engine
Once you get beyond the equipment level, shopping for a QX50 doesn’t require a lot of hemming and hawing. All versions have the same mechanics as last year, namely the 3.7-litre V6 engine that develops 325 horsepower and 267 lbs.-ft. of torque. There’s nothing to complain about here, as this engine is a tried and tested mill that has been in the Nissan family for years. What’s more, its power is superior to what the competition is offering, but it’s less fuel efficient as a result.
A seven-speed automatic transmission transmits power to the wheels. Good news, Canada! All QX50s sold in the True North will be equipped with all-wheel drive. The AWD system favours the rear wheels in normal driving conditions to optimize vehicle handling and fuel consumption, but it can transfer up to 50% of the torque to the front wheels to maximize grip when needed.
On the road, we like the 2016 QX50’s compact size, even if it’s less compact than it used to be. Infiniti wanted to make it a sporty, dynamic model, somewhere between an SUV and a sports sedan. Mission accomplished, as the vehicle is easy to drive and we like how agile it is. Its steering is very well calibrated, just heavy enough without being over-assisted. The suspension minimizes weight transfer and guarantees poise. However, there’s no device to adjust its firmness or the vehicle’s general settings; there’s no Comfort or Dynamic mode. Only the transmission has a Sport mode that helps hold the gears a little longer, but don’t expect to find shifters behind the steering wheel for manual gear changes.
Basically, the 2016 Infiniti QX50 has everything you liked from the previous model and a few additional niceties.