2018 Infiniti QX30 Premium AWD Review - A Comfortable Compact Oddity

Fast Facts

2018 Infiniti QX30 Premium AWD

2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm; 258 lb-ft @ 1,200-4,000 rpm)
Seven-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
21 city / 30 highway / 25 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
10.6 city, 8.0 highway, 9.4 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price
$37,700 (U.S) / $38,490 (Canada)
As Tested
$46,460 (U.S.) / $48,161 (Canada)
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $2,045 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2018 infiniti qx30 premium awd review a comfortable compact oddity

Why Infiniti needs a subcompact crossover that shares its platform with the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is a mystery that only the folks at Nissan HQ know the answer to.

After all, I spent four days wheeling one all over Los Angeles, from the airport to downtown and back, and I still don’t know the answer to that question.

Separating the QX30 from its platform mate and judging it on its own merits, however, is nonetheless revealing.

Full Disclosure: Sometimes automotive journalists are able to access fleet loans when traveling, and I arranged one for the 2017 LA Auto Show. The QX30 was what was offered by the L.A. press fleet. Also, I forgot to photograph the car, so I have to use images provided by Infiniti. Sorry, gang.

Images shown are of the 2017 model, as Infiniti has not yet posted the 2018s on their media Web site. The 2018 model carries over virtually unchanged, anyway.

More full disclosure: I was prepared to not like this thing very much. I try to go into every review open-minded, but as noted above, I don’t fully understand why this car exists (same goes for the GLA, for that matter). Nor did I think it was as sporty as Infiniti wants it to be, based on a previous autocross experience.

Of course, it’s unfair to go into any review pre-judging, and driving Sepulveda or Figueroa isn’t quite the same as an autocross. My mission: to see how the QX30 handles everyday life.

At a glance, tech specs aren’t encouraging. Sure, this thing is small, but is 208 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque enough power? Especially with all-wheel drive and over 3,300 pounds to haul around?

Surprisingly, yes, at least for around-town driving. “Fast” is too strong a word, but I had no issues accelerating up to speed in the madness that is the L.A. freeway system. The seven-speed automatic transmission didn’t make itself unnecessarily known, either.

Infiniti also gave the QX30 just enough sport to make it interesting, although pushing it hard leads to body roll and other not-so-good characteristics. It will liven up your commute a little bit, but you’re not taking it out to the canyons.

That’s not the point, anyway. Like the GLA, the QX30 is meant to look cool while giving you a raised view of the road and hatchback utility. Whether it succeeds in two of those three objectives is open to interpretation.

Personally, I appreciate the look forward of the A-pillar – the way the lines flow reminds me subtly of the departed FX models, which I always found attractive. Moving towards the back, the story changes. I can’t fully get on board with the squashed rear doors, for example.

I also found cargo space a bit tight for my limited luggage – a backpack and large suitcase – but I also ferried two AutoGuide compatriots and their camera gear to the show without hearing any complaints.

Ride-wise, the QX30 is on the stiffer side, without exhibiting any undue punishment. It’s fine, unremarkable, even. Just not cushy.

Inside, you get materials and build quality that are on-par for the class, and an infotainment system that works pretty well. You have to get used to the wonky shifter, though, and while the knob and buttons for the infotaiment are intuitive enough, it’s still annoying that so many OEMs feel the need to set these systems up this way.

You can’t say the QX doesn’t come well equipped. Standard or optional features include navigation, blind-spot warning, 360-degree camera, lane-departure warning, forward emergency braking, intelligent park assist, intelligent cruise control, moonroof, leather seats, heated front seats, Bluetooth, satellite radio, USB, and push-button start.

Nothing you wouldn’t expect at this class/price point, of course. Odd a duck as the QX may be, it at least has the creature comforts covered.

Fuel economy isn’t a strong suit, at least not in city driving – it’s only rated at 21 mpg. The 30-mpg highway rating is better, though.

Looking at the whole package, you get a luxurious small crossover with an odd shape and sizing. I don’t know who the hypothetical buyer is, especially since the QX60 and upcoming QX50 should provide more utility without sacrificing style.

Certainly, value likely isn’t enough – not with a base price north of $37K and an as-tested price of around $46K.

I suppose the rich urbanite who rarely has rear-seat passengers or much luggage will be intrigued, if they don’t mind the squinty rear styling, and the QX30’s short length did make it easy to park in clogged DTLA. So there’s that.

It’s inaccurate to call the QX30 a bad vehicle – it does plenty of things well, or at least well enough. It’s just hard to justify its existence.

That latter sentence applies to lots of luxury crossovers, but this one, and the GLA, are even more odd. Still, there’s a buyer for everything.

I’d just like to meet them.

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2 of 37 comments
  • 2ACL What tickles me is that the Bronco looks the business with virtually none of the black plastic cladding many less capable crossovers use.
  • IBx1 For all this time with the hellcat engine, everything they made was pathetic automatic scum save for the Challenger. A manual Durango, Grand Cherokee, Charger, 300C, et al would have been the real last gasp for driving enthusiasts. As it is, the party is long over.
  • 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.