By on December 30, 2016


Infiniti has had enough of the QX50’s voluptuous curves.

An edgier future awaits the brand’s midsize crossover, as shown by photos of the QX50 “Concept” released ahead of the North American International Auto Show. If this concept looks almost production-ready, that’s because it is.

Borrowing heavily from the earlier QX Sport Inspiration concept, the QX50 Concept’s updated design language isn’t the only way Infiniti plans to lure prospective buyers. Underneath the newly creased sheetmetal beats a very different kind of heart — one two decades in the making.


The concept bound for Detroit carries Infiniti’s radical turbocharged variable compression (VC-T) four-cylinder engine. Unlike other 2.0-liter turbos, this mill can be whatever the driver wants it to be.

The VC-T engine allows for greater efficiency and power when the conditions call for it, thanks to its ability to raise and lower the height of the pistons’ reach — a process that takes less than 1.5 seconds. This means both a low-compression (8:1) performance mode and a high-compression (14:1) efficiency setting. Infiniti hasn’t released exact specs, but it’s hoping for 268 horsepower and 288 lb-ft of torque.

Another feature found on the QX50 Concept is the automaker’s ProPilot semi-autonomous driver assist technology. While this isn’t a system that allows drivers to hand over full control to the vehicle, it will take over more of the work.

The QX50 is by no means a segment leader, but it has seen significant interest this year as buyers gravitate towards crossovers and SUVs. The next-generation QX50 should arrive as a 2018 model.

[Images: Infiniti]

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42 Comments on “Infiniti’s Detroit-bound QX50 Concept is Barely a Concept, Boasts Variable Compression Engine...”

  • avatar

    The VC**T just kicked in, yo!

  • avatar

    So an ~18% horsepower loss and I’m guessing the loss of about 2500 revs.

    RIP to one of the last RWD and naturally-aspirated crossovers. I can only think of the QX70, GLE350, Durango, and JGC.

    But, most of the market wants the power delivery and driving experience of a 2.5L turbodiesel Outback Touring (especially premium CUV owners), so I guess you got to build what’s hot.

  • avatar

    OK, we’ve done the squinty lizard thing long enough; bring back round headlights, please. Tail lights, too.

  • avatar

    With Toyota offering a driver assistance package as standard on the Corolla, I wonder how long it will be before this forces higher end manufacturers to offer it standard.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The Asian brands will bundle it into the $4,500 Technology Package, the Germans will offer it as a $1,300 standalone option, and the domestics will pair it with a sunroof and 22″ chrome rims.

      • 0 avatar

        Have high end brands ever made things optional that were standard on mainstream brands? In the past I always thought standard features, especially standard safety features, flowed from the S-Class down not from Corollas up.

        • 0 avatar

          The Koreans really changed the game. Now the mainstream autos are more willing to make more premium options standard quicker. That makes you have awkward packaging with the premium makes that are not seen as premium as the Germans (i.e. Infiniti, Acura, Buick, etc) as the mainstream cars are their company’s bread and butter, not the lux cars like at Mercedes or BMW (although BMW loves their options).

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The big question is: will it be RWD like the current QX50, or did it go FWD? Hard to tell…

    • 0 avatar

      Good question, I think it depends if it is one of those shared projects like QX30. Assuming it is not, I’d bet it rides on Q50 platform the way the EX? rode on G37s.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      I’m really thinking it’ll be on the G/Q50 platform, so RWD! They don’t venture around on platforms too much, and it’s too big to be on the Mercedes FWD one.

      Edit: Twinning with 28!

      • 0 avatar


        • 0 avatar


          The Amanti I drove is gone. No big loss, it was far less than perfect.

          I’m being put off so this is dragging out. Not a lot I can do, but I’m doing what I can.

          I found a nice one in Florida with 132k, good pics and it shows none of the typical wear I’ve seen in nearly all I’ve been looking at, even those with under 100k. The seats look to have never been sat in. It has black interior which I prefer to the light color. Stunning black paint, no oxidation or flakey clear coat.

          Best part, its under $2k. I will get a temp tag to drive it home, so no need to get a truck/trailer.

          The one I drove was pretty much to see if the car was right for me and its intended purpose, and it is. I may have bought it had he taken significantly less than his asking, but it would be out of convenience since it wasn’t far.

          I drove a fairly new (at the time) XG before, but the Amanti seemed quieter, felt roomier, looked richer and rode smoother. An XG would do, the last-year XG350 model has the same powertrain.

          I expanded my search to 2004+ since I found my area is actually requires 2001+ models, unlike what I was led to believe before, but I still prefer something newer. Cars in this area tend to be used up quickly. A 2001 is likely to look worse than my old 1991 Tempo GLS I sold a few years ago.

          The Amanti I am going for (described above) is a 2005.

          Anyway, like I said, its slow going on my end but I’m still trying.

    • 0 avatar

      I read elsewhere that it’s switching to FWD.

      Makes sense, but a little sad that there’s one less RWD crossover.

  • avatar

    Remind me: is this a replacement for what I call the FX?

  • avatar

    Interested to see how this engine concept works out in production.
    Definitely a big engineering challenge.

    • 0 avatar

      It resembles a jumbo-sized version of BMW’s existing Valvetronic technology.

      Size the load-bearing parts to handle the load from the crankshaft, and I would expect it to be fairly reliable.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t worry, there will be enough loyal Infiniti customers who will be more thn willing to test it under real world conditions and find out hard way, so we will know, just follow CR. In the past GM did well with new untested technologies. I am more concerned about all these confusing names like EX, GX, QX, CLA, GLA and so on, gave up long time ago.

  • avatar

    You couldn’t pay me to drive a CUV or an Infiniti. But this engine does intrigue me. How on earth does it work?

  • avatar

    Count me as interested if and only if this engine sounds different from the usual four-cylinders.

    I guess it makes me a dinosaur, but I just don’t want a four-cylinder sound in a premium car. More cylinders or electrification, please. It’s entirely about the sound. Everything else about these 2.0T is okay.

  • avatar

    “its ability to raise and lower the height of the pistons’ reach”

    Is it antisemitism that prevents Rube’s name being mentioned in articles about this approach?

  • avatar

    Just bought the newest car I’ve ever owned. A (shudder) 03 Saturn Vue. (insert laughs, chortles & guffaws) 155k on the odometer, 4 cyl & trans replaced by the previous owners, 1 did the motor, 1 did the trans, neither did the brakes. So, for half a grand, a pretty looking hoopty that I hope I can get a year of weekly 200 mile beatings.(add more derision, nose coffee, etc) Thank you & sorry to waste your time…

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Congratulations on a wise automotive buy. Half a grand (and up) is what many people spend *monthly* on an unreliable new car (I know this from personal experience).

      You don’t need to apologize for frugality, poverty, or your automotive choices.

      We bought an 01 Elantra with 138k miles, and drove it to 201k miles in 4-1/2 years. It needed lots of doodads to keep it running, but it never left us stranded. Rust finally doomed it – no regrets.

      I wish you many happy miles.

    • 0 avatar

      Good luck friend. I remember when we started getting those how problematic they were, yet if its gone that far and has a fresh drivetrain, it should be good to go for a little while longer.

    • 0 avatar

      Congrats on the new car!

      I’m currently looking for a cash car because I’m bored with driving the RAV everyday (I also have a new CRV that’s for the family). I’m targeting something that has had the major components replaced, similar to what you have now.

      My top choice is Honda (I love Hondas), but I’m pretty open to whatever. Also, it has to have a manual.

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