Infiniti QX50 Is Selling Like It's 2008, You So 2000 And Late
The tiny, centre-mounted screen is controlled by a wheel and a mound of buttons. Controls for power seat memory protrude from the driver’s door, demanding the attention that protruding things tend to demand. Rubbing the driver’s right knee is plastic surrounding the centre console that would seem out of place in a car costing 10 grand less. The 3.7-liter V6 ignites with a level of coarse grumbliness that suggests Infiniti spent slightly more time on NVH than Blue Bird does on school buses. The faux wood applique — with which Infiniti liberally encompassed the shifter, climate, and audio controls — may be the same stuff Hyundai once used to make the XG300 appear upmarket.
Yet the QX50, riding as it does on only a slightly elevated 370Z architecture, is ridiculously fun to hustle down an empty rural road. The level of standard horsepower, 325 ponies at 7,000 rpm, shames its competitors. And for 2016, the Infiniti QX50 can ferry live human passengers in its rear seat.
As a result, U.S. sales of the Infiniti QX50 jumped 473 percent over the last five months.
In fact, based on its recent selling pace, the QX50 will attract more buyers in 2016 than at any point in the model’s long history.
Originally released in 2007 to some confusion — is it a G35 hatchback or just a forerunner to low-slung SUVs? — the QX50 was called the EX35. Sales peaked in 2008 at 12,873 units, prior to the release of the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, and Volvo XC60.
Then began the EX/QX50’s long road to obscurity, certainly not helped by a downturn in the market; undoubtedly harmed by more obviously SUV-styled crossovers from rival luxury automakers. Sales plunged 38 percent in 2009, rebounded slightly in 2010, but then tumbled 74 percent between 2010 and 2013, even as demand for new vehicles steadily increased.
In 2016, however, Infiniti appears primed to sell at least 13,000 QX50s, an impressive achievement for a nine-year-old vehicle if not for the fact that most small luxury utilities continue to sell more often than the surging QX50; if we didn’t realize that even at Nissan’s struggling upmarket division – brand-wide sales are down 11 percent so far this year – the QX50 accounts for little more than one out of every ten Infiniti sales.
The story may sound familiar. Infiniti also stretched their big sedan, the Q70, and saw a massive increase in demand relative to the prior car’s appeal. But the Q70/Q70L remains a low-volume competitor of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5-Series, Cadillac CTS, Lexus GS, and Audi A6, selling just once for every 19 copies of those cars. Last year, overall Q70 sales jumped 67 percent, but it wasn’t even half as common as the fast-fading CTS.
From a purely volume perspective, the QX50 strategy is paying off in ways the Q70L’s never would, not in this increasingly sedan-rejecting era. Infiniti is currently selling 2.4 QX50s for every Q70 sedan. The Q70 was nearly four times more popular than the QX50 at this time last year.
Infiniti QX50 verdict: worth a look on performance/fun/value grounds even if it feels, in a few areas, like 2007. pic.twitter.com/2PoB6j5XoS
— GoodCarBadCar (@GoodCarBadCar) March 13, 2016
For the QX50, a wheelbase stretch of 3.2 inches produced around 4 extra inches of necessary rear legroom. Infiniti’s marketers were once again permitted to feature the little crossover. The QX50 is further buoyed by greater appreciation for SUVs and crossovers in general. Sales in its segment are up 21 percent this year.
But Infiniti is placing no long-term hope on a lengthened version of a vehicle that originally debuted in 2007. Six out of every ten Infiniti sales are derived from the Pathfinder-based QX60, formerly known as the JX35, and the Q50 sedan, a successor to the G35, which propelled Infiniti back into a measure of limelight. Meanwhile, Infiniti’s next entry-level crossover isn’t an Infiniti at all, but a restyled Mercedes-Benz.
The GLA-Class, which itself is based on the CLA sedan/A-Class hatchback, becomes the Infiniti QX30 this year. Yes, for buyers who desire not the pretense of Mercedes-Benz ownership, the QX30 will be the affordable ticket into the realm of Infiniti utilities. There are certainly elements of the GLA, carried over to the QX30, that will provide an aura of modernity lacking in the QX50.
The aged QX50, however, is the one with engaging handling, prodigious thrust, weighty and accurate steering, a seven-speed automatic adept at holding gears at the right time, and an overarching sense of twisty-road know-how missing not only from the GLA but from many of the QX50’s firm-riding direct rivals.
While long an oddball choice, it’s true that the 2016 Infiniti QX50 is only slightly less so now. Yet evidently, there are luxury buyers who will overlook interior details in the interest of a surprisingly captivating driving experience.
[Images: Infiniti; © 2015 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars)
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.
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- Keith Maybe my market's different. but 4.5k whack. Plus mods like his are just donations for the next owner. I'd consider driving it as a fun but practical yet disposable work/airport car if it was priced right. Some VAG's (yep, even Audis) are capable, long lasting reliable cars despite what the haters preach. I can't lie I've done the same as this guy: I had a decently clean 4 Runner V8 with about the same miles- I put it up for sale around the same price as the lower mile examples. I heard crickets chirp until I dropped the price. Folks just don't want NYC cab miles.
- Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
- Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
- Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
- William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
Would it hurt you to use English in headlines? I don't have the foggiest clue what it's supposed to mean. I know the words are drawn from English vocabulary, but the language seems to be something else.
I've owned an 04 G35 Coupe for almost 11 years that I sold 2 years ago. Loved the design, but fit and finish are problematic throughout the entire Infinity line to this day. I'm sure over time, the QX50 along with all other models suffer with their interiors falling apart and disintegrating prematurely. Yes, the rear wheel drive is a plus, but the engine is loud and uncivilized. It's a great car, but dated, but choices are few giving it a plus in the value department.