By on March 16, 2016

2016 Infiniti QX50, Image: Infiniti

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.

2016 Infiniti QX50 Interior, Image: Infiniti

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.

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.

2017 Infiniti QX30 Reveal Los Angeles, Image: © 2015 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

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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70 Comments on “Infiniti QX50 Is Selling Like It’s 2008, You So 2000 And Late...”


  • avatar
    VW16v

    Qx50 is not a bad driving vehicle. But still has poor storage in the hatch area. The sloping hatch does not help, more like four door hatchback rather than an mid sized suv. Good to lease vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Agree with you on the limited hatch space. We looked at one at the Auto show and figured behind the seats, it had less room than a good sedan. That said as a second car in a fleet I think this would be acceptable.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Still one of my favorite looking tall hatchbacks. I like that it has no pretense of being a tough utility type vehicle. Its obvious intent is to be sporty.

    I seriously keep wondering how to justify a nice used one.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      And that little roach QX30 can eat a cactus.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      The back end of a EX50 has that AMC Pacer look. But, the ex50 is not a bad driving vehicle. Yet, I’d buy a used Toyota Land Cruiser for the price of a EX50.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        The EX is more of a car replacement compared to a Land Cruiser. I certainly don’t view it as a CUV. Its a slightly longer roof, slightly taller G37X. And hey look, no stupid “Outback style” butch plastic cladding, (though I admit they do use plastic trim, its not the ruggedized look.) Its more in my wheel house than a full size BOF SUV. One of these and my future halfton would be a fantastic stable for me.

        TLDR, its a tall car.

        Regarding the looks, they are of course subjective but I like the way it looks from every angle.

    • 0 avatar

      Right there with you Dave. I’m in a situation where I don’t need to own a car (so I don’t), but probably will buy one soon. This is on the short list. My aunt has a 2010, and it’s great fun. The engine is boisterous, but a fun boisterous to my ears. They’re also decent value used, too.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Interior… there is nothing special there. If not for “a lot of buttons”, it is like 1995 all over again

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    LMFAO. Bluetooth- OPTIONAL. Too long to fit on my wife’s side of the garage anyway.

  • avatar
    swester

    “As a result, U.S. sales of the Infiniti QX50 jumped 473 percent over the last five months.”

    That’s the fun part about using percentages in marketing (ahem, pardon me, I meant journalism): When you have a few really bad years, any improvement suddenly sounds amazing!

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    Previously, this was a really fun car(?) that was really short on rear seat space. 4 inches of additional rear legroom has to be good. That center stack sure is looking aged. When was that introduced – ’07?

    It seems to me that when it was introduced, the EX35 was silly fast for the class. And rear wheel drive.

    Either way, it’s great they were able to do a minor modification (for China as I recall) that improves its usefulness and sales numbers here.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    Infiniti = Oldsmobile redux

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Ermm… the wood’s not fake Tim. Acura is the “luxury brand” that uses garbage fake wood and leather too cheap for a Kia in its $50K+ cars. Infiniti doesn’t.

    Their product planners REALLY screwed the pooch on this car. They beat pretty much everybody to market in this class, but instead of dominating it like the original RX300, this car landed with a complete thud because Infiniti thought that nobody would use the rear seats.

    The electronics are ancient but they work, which is a lot more than can be said for the Q50’s double touch system. The QX50 is also likely to be a hell of a lot more reliable than a rebodied GLA with completely custom software. They would be compelling used buys if they didn’t hold their value so damn well for whatever reason. A 5 year old, no options EX35 is still $20K+, thousands more than a comparable G37.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      They did the same thing with the original FX. It was more expensive than the RX, smaller, and more thirsty, while being less passenger friendly.

      It’s all this darn RWD architecture.

      • 0 avatar
        IHateCars

        Perhaps, but infinitely (ha!) more fun to drive than the RX. We love my wife’s ’08 FX35, although it’s getting long in the tooth, the exterior still looks great (interior, another story….bubbling/delaminating dash, peeling leather on shift boot & steering wheel), and is a great drive. We’re kidless so no biggie on perceived lack of rear storage but we always carry a lot of people in it when we’re out of the town and never really had an issue. And storage space for hauling whatever (groceries, shopping bags, small items) has never been an issue either. I think these vehicles like the FX, EX (or whatever QX nomenclemature they are now) are more for DINKs, empty nesters or as a second vehicle….not a primary family vehicle. Although, I would use one for a small family….no problem.

        I just find that Nissan/Infiniti cheaped out on some componentry that shouldn’t be failing/rusting out as early as it does. Thanks Ghosn!

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Something happened in 08 – they switched suppliers or something for their interior components.

          <08 M cars had those same issues you speak of.
          08+ do not have that issue. Also got rid of the horrible orange gauges.

          • 0 avatar
            IHateCars

            I dunno, the replacement dash that was installed under the extended 8 year warranty (just made it with a month to spare) doesn’t look much better. But we’ll be dumping it soon for a newer one.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Hopefully avoid the couple years there where it got a serious fish face look. I think they realized their error and quickly toned it down.

            Still you very rarely see them on the roads today, and they hold their value well.

          • 0 avatar
            Davekaybsc

            Infiniti copied the color of BMW’s gauges while forgetting to copy the style. Oops. Still I’d take the bad old Infiniti orange gauges over the base Cadillac gauge cluster any day of the week.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    That wood in there is maple, not faux. I agree it’s outdated looking in there. I’m honestly expecting this to intersect with the QX30 for only a year or two before it’s dropped. The VQ engine goes away as well.

    Replaced by a FWD concoction of turbo and Mercedes, yikes.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      I was going to say…that’s not fake wood!

      I personally like the mid-nineties design of the cockpit. I’d rather there was a physical button/knob/switch for every car function than have to cycle through that postage stamp of a screen.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Round that time Infiniti was using a plenty big screen on their more expensive models. That little one was a punishment for choosing the entry level model.

        http://zombdrive.com/images/2006_infiniti_m35_sedan_base_d_oem_1_500.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        IHateCars

        The hideous plasti-wood in our old ’03 E350…looked like they pulled it out of a LeBaron….which they may have! Lol!

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Was that the red tone stuff? I didn’t get why they did that – I feel like even at that time in the early 00s red tint fake wood looked bad.

          • 0 avatar
            IHateCars

            Yeah, kinda faded into a burnt orange colour after a few years….really bad. The leather was shite as well, ours was a light gray leather that did not wear well. Together with that hideous wood trim, it was an ugly interior. That fangled pop up cupholder in the centre console was a b!tch as well when it inevitably broke.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Red tint wood is just bad in general. The stuff in my Lexus is very obviously real and I’d still prefer just about any other color.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yeah, unless it’s natural cherry color, avoid red.

            And green and purple. -Lookin at you, RL.-

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        Totally agree regarding buttons and knobs. Bemoan the presence of buttons all you want, auto scribes; it doesn’t change the fact that they’re usually the better tool for the job.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      When I worked for Lay’s, we liked to say that Pringles needed to alter their labelling: “May contain traces of potato.”

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    We cross-shopped this with the X1. The X1 handled better but the infinity had a much nicer interior.

    Biggest issue for me though was that despite the X1 being at 240HP, it felt far more responsive and powerful, likely thanks to the huge torque numbers at low RPM the 2T provides. That, and the Infiniti engine sounded terrible, very harsh and no refinement.

  • avatar
    sproc

    Test drove one of these two weeks ago. Great power but it felt so aged inside. I played with the nav while my wife drove–“Oregon Trail” quality graphics on a tiny screen. The trunk was definitely pinched, taking it off the list.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I’m probably going to replace our Forester with one of these as soon as a critical mass of used ones is out there and used prices normalize. My wife is interested in a used RX450h too but I have a feeling that’s going to change once she actually drives one; she has a heavy foot.

    Yes, the interior is a bit out of date, and the VQ is … coarse. But think about the powertrain options available in this class. You have this; you have the vastly more expensive X3 xLongestName35i and Audi Q5 3.0T; and everything else has either front drive, four cylinders, or both. I see this car as the clear best value in the class for someone who likes cars, and the bigger rear seat for 2016 made it a functional option for my family.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Indeed. Though it has rough edges, it’s considerably more car than any competitor. The RX’s interior is currently kinda meh as well, not a fan of it. Giant swaths of plain plastic/rubber everywhere.

      Have ya seen the red/pink interior available on the F Sport?!
      https://blog.consumerguide.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/09/Screen-shot-2015-09-13-at-5.58.41-PM1-1024×679.png

      Holy bubblegum.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      What size class is the RDX in these days?

      Whatever CUV Lincoln offers with the 2.7T would probably be nice enough too.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        RDX should be similar in size, bit larger as the QX50 is a bit small for the class as mentioned.

        The biggest engine in the MKC (Escape) is a 2.3T – $36,700 with AWD for the base model. Black Label AWD is $49,840 (which is nuts).

        The MKX (Edge) has the 3.7, no turbo. Starts at $40,800 with AWD. That’s a size class up, though. I don’t think Lincoln has a good comparison car at this time.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The RDX is a direct competitor for this thing. FWD (with fig-leaf AWD), and with much inferior suspension for an enthusiastic driver. But the interior is more modern (if no better-built) and the engine is more refined.

        So far the best engine in the MKC, the Lincoln contender in this segment, is the 2.3T. The 2.7TT is in the MKX which is in the next segment up.

        Edit: Ninja’d by Corey.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          *Ah, my MKX info was 2015. 2016 sees the range expanded. $38k-53k. Premiere trim AWD 2.7TT at $42,700.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Not a bad deal. Might suggest that my wife have a look, although the usual misery of buying a Detroit Three car on the West Coast would apply. I thought it was more expensive.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Tim should be fired for that headline, yuck.

  • avatar
    slance66

    “For the QX50, a wheelbase stretch of 3.2 inches produced around 4 extra inches of necessary rear legroom.” That’s all it really needed. The backseat in the old one was worse than…well just about everything. It was essentially a two seater. No human beyond Kindergarten years could sit in those seats, and kids that age don’t sit in the seats.

  • avatar
    natrat

    gla45 will dust that pig

  • avatar
    turf3

    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.

  • avatar
    Bocatrip

    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.

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