2019 Infiniti QX50 Drops the Curtain; Variable Compression Engine Beats Efficiency Estimate

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
2019 infiniti qx50 drops the curtain variable compression engine beats efficiency

You saw a teaser the other day, but here’s the real thing. Infiniti’s next-generation 2019 QX50 midsize crossover has appeared online before its official unveiling at next week’s L.A. Auto Show.

The model’s uncloaking doesn’t yield any great design surprises, as this next-generation model — bearing Infiniti’s new “Powerful Elegance” styling — was preceded, somewhat oddly, by its own namesake concept vehicle. One surprise, however, is the model’s anticipated fuel economy.

With a 2.0-liter variable compression four-cylinder resting under the hood, the new QX50 sips less gas than initially claimed.

“A compelling alternative to diesel, it challenges the notion that only hybrid and diesel powertrains can deliver high torque and efficiency,” Infiniti says of its new VC-T engine, some two decades in the making.

The turbocharged 2.0-liter is capable of adjusting its compression ratio on the fly via some very clever engineering. That spread bookends at 8:1 and 14:1, ensuring optimum efficiency in all driving situations.

Recently, Nissan’s chief powertrain engineer, Shinichi Kiga, said the VC-T engine would enable the next QX50 to top the outgoing model’s combined fuel economy by 27 percent. It seems that was a lowballed figure. Compared to the current model (powered by a 3.7-liter V6), the 2019 QX50 will return an estimated 27 mpg combined for front-wheel-drive variants, and 26 mpg combined when optioned with all-wheel-drive. That means fuel economy increases of 35 and 30 percent, respectively.

Early power estimates for the VC-T engine pegged the horsepower rating (268) correctly, but the new QX50’s torque falls a little short, at 280 lb-ft. That’s still above the current model’s 267 lb-ft.

Some of the credit for the 2019 model’s fuel economy bump goes to the new engine’s dance partner — a transmission that’s equally as malleable. For 2019, the QX50 ditches its seven-speed automatic for a continuously variable unit. The new design also means a lower drag coefficient, further helping fuel economy. In terms of performance, all of this efficiency means a slightly longer trip to cruising speed, with the vehicle’s 0-60 time rising just over half a second to 6.3 seconds (for AWD models).

Infiniti’s earlier teaser promised buyers class-leading interior space, and that’s still the general expectation. Specifically, Infiniti wants the QX50’s rear-seat space to top all challengers — something it plans to accomplish by installing a sliding rear seat. (Dimensionally, the model is within an inch of the previous-gen model in all measurements, despite riding on a new platform.)

“The trunk’s volume expands from 31.6 cu ft (895 liters SAE) to 37 cu ft (1,048 liters SAE) as the rear bench slides fore and aft, growing to 60 cu ft (1,699 liters SAE) with the rear seats folded,” the automaker claims

Occupants sliding back and forth on that funky new seat will probably be unaware of the strength of the vehicle surrounding them. Infiniti claims the 2019 QX50 boasts a 23-percent improvement in torsional rigidity, all thanks to the industry-first use of high formability 980 MPa high-tensile steel. Besides increasing stiffness, the steel helped engineers reduce weight (though by how much, we don’t know).

Also appearing on the 2019 model is Nissan’s ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous driving tech. There’s more than a bit of emphasis placed on the semi here. Infiniti claims buyers still like to be in charge of piloting the vehicle, so, like every other automaker in existence, it’s not allowing the system to handle all of the driving.

“Our intention is to empower the driver and enhance feelings of pleasure behind the wheel, not to remove the driver from the equation,” said François Bancon, Infiniti vice president of product and programs, in a statement.

Though ProPilot is expected to gain new capabilities over the coming years, right now it’s just a very smart cruise control. The system oversees braking, acceleration and steering during single-lane highway driving.

Expect to see the new crossover hit dealers early next summer.

[Images: Infiniti]

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2 of 62 comments
  • Tooloud10 Tooloud10 on Nov 26, 2017

    I'm still trying to remember which model is the "QX50". Changing everything to alphanumeric names that are barely able to be distinguished from each other was the dumbest thing they ever did.

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Nov 27, 2017

    But muh Shevolay Small Block!!!!

  • Statikboy Those tires are the Wrong Size.
  • Mustangfast I had an 06 V6 and loved that car. 230k trouble free miles until I sold it. I remember they were criticized for being too small vs competitors but as a single guy it was the right size for me. I recall the 2.3 didn’t have a reputation for reliability, unlike the V6 and I4. I think it likely didn’t take off due to the manual-only spec, price tag, and power vs the V6 engine and the way it delivered that power. It was always fun to see the difference between these and normal ones, since these were made in Japan whereas all others were flat rock
  • VoGhost Earth is healing.
  • ToolGuy "Having our 4th baby and decided a camper van is a better use of our resources than my tuner."Seller is in the midst of some interesting life choices.Bonus: Here are the individuals responsible for doing the work on this vehicle.
  • MaintenanceCosts Previous owner playing engineer by randomly substituting a bunch of components, then finding out. No thanks.