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

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!!!!

  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.
  • Dlc65688410 Please stop, we can't take anymore of this. Think about doing something on the Spanish Pegaso.
  • MaintenanceCosts A few bits of context largely missing from this article:(1) For complicated historical reasons, the feds already end up paying much of the cost of buying new transit buses of all types. It is easier legally and politically to put capital funds than operating funds into the federal budget, so the model that has developed in most US agencies is that operational costs are raised from a combination of local taxes and fares while the feds pick up much of the agencies' capital needs. So this is not really new spending but a new direction for spending that's been going on for a long time.(2) Current electric buses are range-challenged. Depending on type of service they can realistically do 100-150 miles on a charge. That's just fine for commuter service where the buses typically do one or two trips in the morning, park through the midday, and do one or two trips in the evening. It doesn't work well for all-day service. Instead of having one bus that can stay out from early in the morning until late at night (with a driver change or two) you need to bring the bus back to the garage once or twice during the day. That means you need quite a few more buses and also increases operating costs. Many agencies are saying for political reasons that they are going to go electric in this replacement cycle but the more realistic outcome is that half the buses can go electric while the other half need one more replacement cycle for battery density to improve. Once the buses can go 300 miles in all weather they will be fine for the vast majority of service.(3) With all that said, the transition to electric will be very good. Moving from straight diesel to hybrid already cut down substantially on emissions, but even reduced diesel emissions cause real public health damage in city settings. Transitioning both these buses and much of the urban truck fleet to electric will have measurable and meaningful impacts on public health.