2016 Infiniti QX50 AWD Review - Athletic Heavy Drinker
2016 Infiniti QX50
From krill-hungry Lincolns to Predator-style Lexus grilles, the automotive market is littered with luxury crossovers like rocks covering the landscape of my home province of Newfoundland. With few exceptions, they’re all ponderous boxes offering the driving dynamics of tapioca pudding. Adding a sport package to these machines simply upgrades them to slightly warmer tapioca pudding.
The 2016 Infiniti QX50, though, surprised me … and I like surprises — for example, buying a new type of beer and finding it to my liking, or having a tool work better than expected. These are all experiences that give me pure joy. Heck, I even bought my first house largely based on the fact its floorplan wasn’t what I expected.
The 3.7-liter V6 engine in the QX50 is the biggest surprise, even though it appears in myriad forms in nearly every vehicle Nissan/Infiniti makes. The VQ V6 delivers 325 horsepower here; not a huge amount of power compared to its competitors, but it sings a song all the way to its near-7,000 rpm redline.
The engine is positioned behind the centre line of the front axle, contributing to the QX50’s positive handling characteristics and pleasant ride. The seven-speed automatic is a welcome relief from droning CVTs, and features a strangely petite shifter that’s perfect for Donald Trump or someone else gifted with small hands
Testing at my home in eastern Canada in April gives me an opportunity to sample the QX50’s all-wheel drive on snow-covered roads. A switch on the centre console, between the knobs for the furnace-quality heated front seats, allows drivers to switch into Snow Mode, thus blunting throttle response and adjusting traction control. Speaking of which …
… Nissan really doesn’t want you to turn off the traction control. The button for doing so is down by the driver’s left ankle, well out of view of any biped with eyes in their head and not their feet. I circled it in the picture above because it truly answers an ergonomic question no driver has asked nor dreamed to ask, even during those drug experimentation years.
Space abounds in the QX50. It’s big enough for this six-foot-six author, even with its sunroof, and provides for a comfortable driving position. Elsewhere, there are odd vertical creases on the passenger side of the dashboard under which the airbag resides, a styling flourish that left many riders puzzled and became the butt of crass remarks comparing it to various parts of the human anatomy. Quality, soft leather covers many touch points, but there are some hard plastic pieces in a few places where none should exist.
Oddly, given the wealth of leg and headroom, the centre console is very cramped and fails to provide any practical real estate in which to lodge a phone being charged by the convenient USB port. Sure, the cupholder is there — notably covered by a nicely actioned, leather-trimmed lid — but I refuse to dump my phone into a well in which spilled remains of yesterday’s coffee may lie. The QX50’s centre console real estate is so tight that two large double-doubles cannot reside side-by-side in the cupholder. At least the covered storage underneath the centre armrest is deep, if narrow.
The infotainment system provoked neither awestruck wonderment nor fits of rage. It was simply … there. Response times were adequate, screen resolution was adequate, and there was an adequate number of redundant buttons. Sensing a pattern here? Adequate.
As a personal preference, I do favour a black interior rather than the tan trappings of our tester, but that’s a very subjective opinion. No matter the colour, the leather smells great. Every vehicle has that new-car smell; the QX50 has the sumptuous, deep aroma of new leather. I tried to no avail to put the smell in a bottle with the intent of selling it at high-end boutiques: Eau d’Nissan.
For 2016, Infiniti stretched the QX50’s wheelbase by 3.2 inches, with all of that newfound space going to the passengers, and most of that to rear seat legroom. It’s certainly noticeable, too. Space for legs is good both front and rear and the 18 cu. ft. of cargo space is well shaped, easy to load, and lit from above by a light on the hatch. Why is this worth mentioning? Way up there on the hatch, the light won’t get covered by items in a fully laden cargo area. The fancy chrome handle on the cargo cover flops around like a freshly caught carp when not secured.
Fuel economy was dismal, with the Infiniti swilling premium fuel at a rate far exceeding its 17.2 miles per gallon city rating. Ignoring the optimistic on-board computer and using technology available to Wyatt Earp, I used a pen and calculated a consumption of approximately 15 mpg. I’m willing to chalk some of that up to a green engine, winter tires, and 100 km of rural driving, but there’s no escaping the 3.7L VQ’s prodigious thirst when hauling around 4029 pounds of all-wheel-drive crossover.
Starting at $35,850, the QX50 AWD makes a good case for itself at that price point. Our tester, continuing the Infiniti tradition of forcing customers to buy certain option packages in order to get other ones, was loaded to the gunwales with $7,650 worth of options and fees to ring the bell at $44,495. At that price, it’s value proposition is murkier.
A $2,000 Premium Plus package mainly serves up a navigation system and Infiniti’s trick Around View Monitor, which allows a top down view of the vehicle during parking manoeuvres. Sadly, tasty saltine crackers are not included in the Premium Plus package. From there, the $2,400 Deluxe Touring package offers 19-inch alloys and HID headlamps that light up the dark side of the moon but have a strange and abrupt low beam cutoff point. The $2,750 Technology package includes lane keeping and other semi-autonomous driving features. It adds up quickly. Our tester had all three packages, with slightly different content and pricing for the Canadian market. I’d leave the trio of option boxes unchecked and drive away for less than 40 grand.
Infiniti has struggled with its identity since its rocks-and-trees advertising campaign that launched the brand in the late ‘80s. Even now, its product offerings range from milquetoast convertibles to brawny body-on-frame SUVs. The QX50 surprised me, pleasantly, and I think the QX50 inhabits the sportier side of the Infiniti showroom, offering an unpretentious alternative to the small crossovers from BMW and Mercedes.
Selling Points: siren of an engine, agreeable interior space, and that leather smells great
Deal Breakers: small centre console, alarming thirst for fuel, option pricing by Prada
The Bottom Line: a crossover for those who want more sport and less utility.
Infiniti Canada provided the test vehicle and insurance for this review.
[Images: © 2016 Matthew Guy/The Truth About Cars]
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Urlik My online research seems to indicate it’s an issue with the retaining clips failing and allowing the valve spring retainers to come out. This results in the valve dropping into the cylinder.
- EBFlex Typical Ford. For those keeping track, Ford is up to 44 recalls for the year. Number one recalled manufacturer (yet again) by a wide margin.
- Lorie Did they completely forget the damn 2.0 ecoboosts that have the class action lawsuit? Guess those of us that had to pay out of pocket for an engine replacement for a fail at 76k miles are out of luck? I will never buy a Ford again.
- Mncarguy I remember when the Golf came out and all the car magazines raved about it. I bought an early one in the mid level trim, brown with a beige vinyl interior and a stick. I must have blocked out a lot about that car, because the only thing I remember is one day with my wife and infant in the car, the brakes went out! I could use the parking brake and made it home. There must have been other issues (beside an awful dealer who felt like they were doing you a favor even letting you come in for service) because I swore I'd never buy a VW again. I did get a new Beetle and later a Passat. That's another story!
- Oberkanone The Chrysler - Plymouth - Dodge Neon's racing successes - SCCA and elsewhere (allpar.com)Inexpensive racing.