By on October 9, 2015

2016InfinitiQX50_(2_of_12)

2016 Infiniti QX50 RWD

3.7-liter VQ37VHR V-6, with Variable Valve and Event Lift (325 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm; 267 pounds-feet of torque @ 5,200 rpm)

7-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and Downshift Rev Matching

17 city/24 highway/20 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

19 mpg on the 70/30 city/hwy grocery loop (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: Technology Package — $2,750 (Intelligent cruise, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning); Deluxe Touring Package — $2,400 (19-inch wheels, power folding up second-row seats); Illuminated Kick Plates — $440 (!); Premium Package — $500 (Bose 11-speaker sound system, maple interior accents, aluminum roof rails); Premium Plus Package — $2,000 (Navigation, 7-inch touch-screen display, Bluetooth).

Base Price:
$35,445*
As Tested Price:
$43,535*

* All prices include $995 destination fee.

Cars will be built in China.

Scratch that — cars are being built in China already, but cars sold in America will soon be built in China.

It’s an inevitability that American car buyers will understand when Volvo brings over its long-wheelbase S60 that promises to be the first Chinese-made car sold in America. It’s already happened in most markets around the world — including Canada — but Americans are averse to cars being built in the C-word like, well, the C-word.

The 2016 Infiniti QX50 (formerly the EX35 in old-Infiniti nomenclature) was not built in China — but for all purposes that we’ll discuss, it was made in China. That’s because the car, which sold at a phenomenally slow pace in the U.S., has been thrown a lifeline from overseas. In China, the QX50 launched six months ago with a longer wheelbase to satisfy that country’s appetite for driving everyone, everywhere, all the time. It was a no-brainer for the U.S., but to justify significantly updating the car for our market, it needed sales — and to sell, it needed to be upgraded. And you can see where this is going.

We’ve had plenty of chances to buy one before now, it’s that just Infiniti hasn’t really ever given us a reason.

As one of the first luxury compact crossovers launched in 2007, the Infiniti EX35 had plenty of head start on the competition. The athletic crossover didn’t suffer in its first eight years from anything other than a helping of Nissan’s parts inside and an aging mill up front. That car — with its 3.5-liter V-6 — never gained traction with U.S. buyers, who were enamored with more efficient cars from the likes of Lexus and Acura. In following years, its biggest selling point — available rear-wheel drive and Nissan’s potent 3.7-liter V-6 — would be eclipsed by other automakers including, ahem, Porsche.

To make a long story longer, the “driver’s” compact crossover has been swamped in the race for buyers, despite having an eight year advantage out of the gate.

2016InfinitiQX50_(1_of_12)

Exterior
Outside, the QX50 improves on its looks from last year by adding a sharper nose and more aggressive wheels than it had before — but the exterior is still on par for the segment, which is sleepier than a Sunday afternoon.

The 2016 QX50 over here now sports the same 3,2-inch longer longer wheelbase sold in China, which benefits rear passengers who get more than 4 inches of additional legroom versus the last iteration. That may seem like a common sense decision in the States, but sales of the EX35 languished heavily because of that car’s cramped rear quarters. It’s large enough now for my lanky frame, but we’ll talk about that more later.

2016InfinitiQX50_(9_of_12)If I had to sum up its initial pitch, the QX50 separates from competition such as the Lexus RX and Acura RDX in two ways: first, its squat stance and curvy lines are moderately attractive; and second, the limited sales mean that it’s relatively uncommon in a sea of compact luxury crossovers. (The rear end looks a little too wagon for me, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I like the short spoiler over the rear glass though, for some reason.)

The extended wheelbase has one casualty: the rear doors are impossibly huge. Not AMC Pacer-huge, but abnormally big, in my opinion.

2016InfinitiQX50_(11_of_12)

Interior
Inside, the QX50 makes its case with much of the same equipment found on the outgoing car. The seats feel soft and supple, without being over-enveloping for a car with “sporty” pretensions. I easily found a natural seating position and the pedals and steering wheel felt closer to my feet than most cars, which is something I prefer.

2016InfinitiQX50_(12_of_12)The interior materials and optional maple accents were pleasant, and probably something I’d find room for in the budget if I were inclined to buy. The $440 illuminated kick plates — which cost almost as much as the maple accents, Bose 11-speaker stereo, power tilt steering column and intelligent keys combined — are something you may want to pass on.

The complex array of controls in Infiniti and some Nissans have their fans, but I’m not one of them. [I am. Aaron also likes MyLink and I don’t, which just emphasizes how much personal preference factors into infotainment usability. — Mark] It took a long look for me to discover the power folding rear seat button (it’s not in a weird place, it’s just awkwardly positioned flush with much of the rest of the D pillar inside) and I’d give $100 to an average car buyer to tell me what the IBA Off button does. (Intelligent Brake Assist, after I looked in the manual.)

Like I said before, my 6-foot-3-inch frame fit well into the back seat, making use of the newly found 35.3 inches of rear legroom. Indeed, rear legroom is dramatically improved in the new QX50, but context is necessary — the Volkswagen Golf has 35.6 inches of rear legroom and doesn’t have abnormally long rear doors like the QX50.

Cargo volume is a respectable 18.6 cubes, slightly larger than the 2016 Lexus RX, but much less than the BMW X3’s 27.6 cubes if you can stand how the Bavarian looks/drives. (If you can’t, the X4’s cargo room is an unshockingly smaller 17.7 cubes.)

Courtesy Infiniti

Technology
Infiniti’s navigation system is bright and sharp, but feels oddly outdated to the systems that Nissan now uses in its cars such as the Murano and Maxima.

2016InfinitiQX50_(5_of_12)Infiniti has also added a suite of available safety features including lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and forward collision braking, which I dutifully tested in a parking lot behind a nervous grocery getter. The added tech and features add up quickly: The base retail price of $34,450 swelled to more than $43,500 in our tester.

Oddly, Bluetooth streaming audio isn’t available with the $500 sound upgrade, but rather it’s part of a $2,000 Infiniti Premium Plus Package, which feels like a big ask to stream Sir-Mix-A-Lot from my phone to the car.

Powertrain
Up front, the car’s 3.7-liter V-6 is its biggest asset and liability. The potent, but somewhat old, powerplant pushes 325 horsepower and 267 pounds-feet of torque through a seven-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels — or all wheels when equipped.

2016InfinitiQX50_(3_of_12)

The throaty 3.7-liter sounds great and presses forward with urgency — especially when you engage “Sport” mode — but its 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway/20 mpg combined range penalizes any enthusiasm. Its peak happens at 7,000 rpm, which is impossibly high for an SUV designed to comfort people in the rear.

Mileage in the Lexus NX (22/28/25) and Acura RDX (20/28/23) is predictably better, although both of those cars power the front wheels first, which is less fun than homework on a Friday night.

It’s wholly accurate to say that rear-wheel drive models are the most fun to drive, but as someone who can honestly say that I’ve been stuck in a snowstorm in an EX35 without all-wheel drive, I wouldn’t have one without four-wheel locomotion.

2016InfinitiQX50_(10_of_12)

Drive
Driving around town and on the highway is pleasurable, but not wholly exciting. Standing on the gas is rewarding — briefly. When we dropped the hammer in our rear-wheel drive tester, the 7-speed kicked down and planted our poor pup near the rear cargo door. Its thrust is impressive, but the QX50 isn’t necessarily a performance vehicle.

When comparably equipped, the Infiniti QX50 ranges some $500-$1,000 less than its rivals, but it’s noticeably older in key areas such as mileage and powertrain. In a car without towing capability and costing more than $34,000 to start, not including direct injection or other powertrain improvements to reduce fuel consumption seems like a massive oversight.

But then again, this car may not have been developed for my American tastes.

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43 Comments on “2016 Infiniti QX50 RWD Review – Long, Strong, But Same Old Song...”


  • avatar
    319583076

    The revised styling makes this vehicle less attractive to me. I’ve read a many, many reports of problems with the 7-speed transmission, too. It seems to have a penchant for behaving erratically which is difficult to reproduce, diagnose, and eliminate. Like many Fords, the interior is surprisingly smaller than one expects and the appointments are inconsistent in terms of material and quality.

    The first and second gens offered a V8 and Sport packages that made this a precursor to the BMW M-SUVs, perhaps. But of course enthusiasts don’t want a lifted performance vehicle because the phrase “lifted performance” is incongruous. However, even the V6 versions failed to offer economy, utility, or value so this vehicle is a victim of cowardice or lack of imagination. In the former case, Infiniti didn’t have the courage to commit to an absurd fire-breathing SUV and in the latter, Infiniti didn’t have the vision to bring something unique or valuable to the market.

    Thus, we are offered the compromise on dubs you see here. A vehicle without purpose, identity, or value proposition. I suppose this is where the free market fans point out the empirical evidence of my assertion.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      I didn’t think the QX50 (formerly EX) ever came with a V8. You might be thinking of the larger, better looking QX70 (formerly FX).

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        You are correct. The ex was always the old V6. This new old version is probably the only Infiniti that has not been Pontiacized. It looks clean, same high old dash. But, clean looking. It does seem to be over priced for a Nissan. This could be one of many reasons why you don’t see to many of them outside of retirement community. This qx50 is only Infiniti I would consider buying, well used. They have the resale value of a Cadillac. But without the issues.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        You are correct, I thought this was an updated QX70. Mea culpa – de Nysschen’s naming convention collects another victim. Thanks for correcting me!

        • 0 avatar
          johnny_5.0

          Infiniti’s naming scheme is a bit odd/confusing though. Normally the higher numbers = BIGGER + more expensive. But in their case, the QX60 is a 3 row (Pathfinder) and the QX70 is a two row. Most other OEMs would field the bigger QX60 as the more premium/expensive option. But I guess the FWD/CVT bones on the QX60 prevent that.

  • avatar

    At least they don’t look as ridiculous as the Nissans.

  • avatar
    vvk

    I would love to read more about enthusiast oriented details. How is the steering? How do the brakes feel? Does it feel great or is it light on its feet? BMW X1, at least in its RWD form, seems to be the direct competitor but I would welcome a comparison to the 328i and the Q40…

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      My impression is that this is the Q40 is CUV guise – with a longer wheelbase.

      I thought the old EX35 was a hoot to drive when I test drove one – <6 seconds to 60, handled well and stopped well, but almost ridiculously small inside. The back seat was useless. I have two kids that were both in large car seats at the time – so that was the end of consideration.

      For me, the VQ engine and RWD (or AWD w/ Rear bias) without direct injection, etc. is a selling point. Not so sure about the 7 speed.

      The X1 I drove later was probably more useful than the EX35, but still too small. The X5 was the lowest numbered BMW SUV/CUV that felt big enough inside to be useful, but too expensive when optioned as I wanted it – although I had a loaner base model X5 diesel that seemed quite good. Same thing with the Cayenne which I really liked, but couldn't stomach the price w/ the V8 and big wheels combined with the possible repair bills post warranty.

      So I bought the FX45 which I wish was a little bit bigger and a little bit faster with better brakes, although compared to the competition when it was new, it certainly held its own. I still enjoy it 130K miles later.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        BMW CUVs have absurdly poor packaging. The X5 only has a few more cubes than the X3, and a Subaru Forester is in the same range as both.

        This QX50 improves matters considerably from the old EX in that respect and isn’t as bad as the BMWs, but it still sacrifices a lot of space to get that low roofline and rounded shape.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I’m very put off by the X5. It’s so long in the tooth, expensive, thirsty, cramped.

          Hey, at least it’s more reliable than the ridiculous GL.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            It’s more of a ML/GLE competitor than a GL/GLS one. If the long-rumored X7 ever shows up it will compete with the GLS (although it will probably still have no more interior room, knowing BMW).

            I agree that the X5 is one of the few vehicles that inspires irrational hatred in me, along with the Range Rover Evoque. (Rational hatred such as that directed at the CLA or the Escalade doesn’t count.)

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yeah, I know they don’t stack up due to space and passengers. I just always feel like the X5 is more expensive than an equivalent ML.

            Both are too overpriced, but the ML in current form has got away from van-like, been nicely updated, and in dark colors can even look very stately. I’d drive it!

            I can’t believe Kyree picked an X5. I think about that every time an X5 gets mentioned!

            The RRE is a gross marketing exercise, and the new Disco Sport is an even worse one.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I had an ML as a rental in Columbia SC last summer. It was pretty OK, though I thought the interior a bit overwrought. Nothing special to drive really.

            I like the way this fancy Nissan looks on the outside, but the inside, ugh.

            For BMW, I find the old X1 pointless and there is simply no reason to buy the X3 when the 328i wagon exists. It’s better in every possible way other than as a fashion statement. The new X1 might be ok, if expensive. But I would rather have the MINI version, you can get it with a stick and it is FAR cheaper.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            krhodes, that ship sailed. My wife is a pretty accurate judge and representative of general-public car culture. Ask her her reaction to a 328i wagon, and you get “Wagons are for old people.” (She feels similarly, but not as extremely, about sedans, and dislikes my preference for them.) Ask her her reaction to an X3, and you get “neat car.”

            The public has spoken and it only wants hatches when they come with high ride height.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            It’s such a shame that so many are fashion victims.

            But then again, look at what women are willing to wear on their feet in the name of looking good. Practicality is obviously of little interest to them. A CUV is a wagon with high heels.

      • 0 avatar
        cpthaddock

        There’s definitely a clear divide between the folks who frown if you don;t have all the latest technology under the hood, and those who value the known reliability of established technology. For example, I’d wager Steve Lang would come down on the side of the older, proven technology.

  • avatar
    make_light

    I kind of like this car. It’s weird, it’s fast, it’s inexpensive (compared to other offerings in the class). And even if it is technically “dated” it is still comfortable, quiet, and seems wholly competitive dynamically. I can’t see why anyone would buy a hideous Lexus NX or boring RDX with this newly roomy car available. But I wonder if the upcoming QX30 which is newer and cheaper will leave it DOA.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I am probably going to buy a gently used one of these in a couple of years to replace my ’13 Forester XT. It’s the most enthusiastic five-seat crossover not made by a German marque. The mechanicals have a proven record. The two big changes for 2016, the stretch and about an inch of increased ground clearance, fix the two major problems with the old car in my family’s usage. Previously the rear seat in particular was a deal-breaker.

    Both the navigation system and the VQ are old, but I can live with both. (Although it will be amusing that my 2008 LS460 will have a better nav system.) I’ll put up with the poor fuel economy–I’m certainly used to that with the turbo Fozzy. The VQ has a badly grating exhaust note but in the QX50 (unlike the G37/Q40/Q60) it’s quiet enough that I can live with it.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      Before buying a used Infiniti. Test drive the 16 Forester XT. Not that the 13 is bad. But, new 16 feels so much more planted and solid over the last model. And you will have a poorer resale value in a Infiniti over the Forester. The infotainment system is also a big upgrade over the last model Forester and even the qx50.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I drove the ’14, mostly similar to the ’16. It’s a big upgrade from the ’13, but still has typical Subaru interior quality, and still makes an unrefined and not very quiet boxer noise. It handles well for a CUV but not like a FM platform Nissan.

        I’m quite familiar with Subaru resale value… that’s why I bought a new Forester, but intend to buy a used Infiniti. Gently used Foresters were more expensive than new ones when expected maintenance and more expensive financing was taken into account. Infinitis have more of a typical luxury-car depreciation curve.

        Basically, I want something sportier and with a nicer interior than Subaru can give me.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    This is kind car I like but mpg and the fact that you’ve mentioned China kills it for me.

    About rear doors – “The extended wheelbase has one casualty: the rear doors are impossibly huge…” – No, these doors are normal now. I tested the first version. I couldn’t come out from the back seat without twisting my ankle in the lower door opening. You couldn’t go through it, you had to jump over it.

    Bottom line, in 3 years you will buy one of these used 1/2 of price but than again, depends on the gas prices

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “but its 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway/20 mpg combined range”

    Note this is the RWD figure, so the AWD one will be lower. And good luck actually getting those figures, unfortunately.

    -Signed, 3.5 VQHR owner

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Oddly, the EPA figures are the same for RWD and AWD. Although I’m sure they’re not quite the same in real-world usage.

      The VQ VHR is a thirsty beast.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Yeah, I am not buying that at all Mr. EPA, wherever you are. I get 18.5 – 19.8ish on an in-town commute of short trips at ~40mph. Doesn’t seem to matter if I’m careful or if I punch it a few times, or if the AC is on or not. Or if it’s hot or cold.

        Sigh.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Nice looking car if you ask me.. No big mouth grill, no pointy shapes coming out at you and has a neat, clean look. Refreshing in the bigger-and-gaudier-is-better look. we see nowadays. The reviewer says “Not a performance vehicle” and “not wholly exciting”. Ok.. did we expect it to be? It’s aggressively priced and should sell well. Can’t beat tried and true either (engine and tech). Not all bad IMO.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    Tired of this new TTAC trend of having the editor chime in with his interior opinions.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    A fresh out of college teacher that I hired this summer showed up with the 2009 EX AWD version of this sporting dealer plates. She was born and raised in Southern Arizona and I’m sure her parents were convinced that AWD was an absolute necessity here in Northern NM.

    But at an anyrate, I can’t tell one lick of difference in the external styling of that EX vs this QX.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Look at the grille/front fascia and the back doors. Those are about the only things that changed.

      • 0 avatar
        johnny_5.0

        I think the update looks much more CUV like vs the EX which should help sales here. The old one looked like a CUV in the same sense that a Toyota Venza did, which is to say basically not at all. It looked like an ugly squished wagon. My wife had one as a loaner when her FX was in for service. Dynamics were pretty solid, it was just too small and unattractive. The update has addressed the first and improved the second IMO.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Which controls specifically are complex? The infotainment bits in the binnacle in front of the screen look easier to operate than controls which are in the vertical plane, as with MyTouch (which I know has its own quirks), but MHO is some sort of touch screen combined with hard-buttons and an MMI/iDrive-esque dial is the best of everything. (Well, at least give me a volume knob, tuning knob, and hard-buttons for HVAC, and seat heaters/coolers. Keep the screen integrated INTO the dash, not on top of it like a wanna-be tablet or iDevice, or the vehicle might attract attention from the folks at Five-Finger Enterprises, if you follow! ;-) )

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    18.8 cu ft trunk in this is bigger than the one in the Lexus RX350? It can’t be! I went and looked, sure enough. Very odd, my parents’ 2009 is listed as having 38.3 cu ft with the seats up. How the heck did it get more than halved?! Must be some massive revision in measurement techniques? or did the further butt-squashing really ruin what was an awfully usefully sized luxury crossover?

  • avatar
    memremkr

    We own a 2012 and it has been a problem free car. One point that a 6’3″ tester would totally miss is how nice the car is for someone “short of stature”. My wife is 4″9″ and it is a perfect car for her (We sat in dozens of other vehicles before buying this Infiniti). Easiest in and out of any vehicle in its class for someone short. That may be why it does much better in Japan and China. with nearly 300 horses (3.5 Litre) this 2012 version will “git” when called upon. I would agree the car does not have standout styling, but then again it does not look bad either. Gas mileage is not great, as noted in the article, but resale value is actually very good. Also, if sitting in the back seat behind my wife while she is driving you get about 10″ of additional legroom, which is more than the 4 you gain with the 2016 stretched wheelbase!

  • avatar
    JonKessler

    EX owner since the beginning. It’s everything the Pacer dreamed of. Back seat perfect for anyone with no other choice but to walk, like my kids.

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