By on March 25, 2021

2022 Infiniti QX55

Infiniti wants so badly to show that it is back on the comeback trail.

It wants to do that so badly that it made a big marketing and P.R. push around the QX55 crossover. It even trailered the vehicle to journalists’ homes when it came time for each writer’s turn to evaluate the vehicle.

I declined the trailering – it’s not very TTAC-like, and the fact that my residence is located in a densely packed neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side would have made it a logistical nightmare – but that didn’t stop Infiniti from arranging a one-day loan anyway.

At first glance, the QX55 will remind those with long memories of the old FX crossovers/wagons. Those tended to be loved, and I still remember one of the cooler car ads of all time being associated with those. It features a couple gone antiquing, the male half looking very unhappy until he cranked “Smoke on the Water” on an old jukebox. My then-girlfriend said that I was that dude when she saw the ad.

2022 Infiniti QX55

The intent of that ad was to show the FX’s duality as a genteel crossover that could take a couple shopping in quiet luxury – a crossover that also held a fiery, sporty side that could be unleashed whenever the mood struck. One that could also take home plenty of antiques.

Infiniti seems to be shying away from FX comparisons with this new crossover, good or bad. Maybe that’s smart – the QX just doesn’t do what the FX did.

That doesn’t mean the vehicle is a total failure. Far from it. It does look good, at least to my eye (our resident Infiniti geek has been a fair bit more critical). Curvy lines are usually hard to argue with, and they’re sleek enough here to catch eyes. The big grille and gaping fascia below it will turn some of you off, I bet, but it looks better in person than in pictures.

That holds up inside – the design is generally coherent and keeps most obvious Nissan influences to a minimum, though there are exceptions. I especially appreciate the dual-screen design for infotainment. It’s nice to run Apple CarPlay up top while using the lower screen for other functions, instead of hopping out of CarPlay to operate the audio system or other menus.

2022 Infiniti QX55

Interior room up front was more than adequate, and my tall frame fit OK in the rear, though the sloping roof will eat into headroom for taller passengers. I’m six-one and it wasn’t an issue, but if I were a few inches taller, if I were a baller, it might’ve been.

It’s not a perfect cabin, though. Some of the panels didn’t seem to line up perfectly (though, to be fair, this was a pre-production unit, so build quality might not be up to production standards). Materials are class-appropriate but not quite in the conversation for class-leading. Some drivers will be annoyed with the large wheel that controls some infotainment functions, though I found it easy to use. Finally, some of the infotainment graphics look a bit old, and don’t differentiate from Nissan.

2022 Infiniti QX55

The biggest issue was noise. Most wind and tire noise seemed muted well enough, but the engine’s song came through all too clearly. This mill is a bit too loud and thrashy for a luxury crossover, and you will hear it should you summon revs much beyond idle.

Luxury buyers typically expect silky-smooth engines (except, perhaps, in dedicated performance cars or off-road rigs), and the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with variable compression just isn’t that. It’s heard and not seen, like an inversion of an admonishment I heard too many times as a child.

This might be excusable if the performance was a bit more in line with expectations. Two-hundred and sixty-eight horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque sound solid, if not spectacular, on paper, but I felt like a bit more oomph would be appreciated. I suspect the fact that the peak torque isn’t available below 4,400 RPM plays a part in this.

That’s not to say the QX55 is slow. It’s adequate for most passing and merging situations. But if Infiniti is hoping to win over the lead-footed drivers who blast Deep Purple, that might not happen.

It especially won’t happen in Eco mode. You need to be in Standard or Sport to kick the spurs. Whatever electronic trickery is at play to maximize MPGs just really takes away the passing punch.

Ride and handling is similarly a mixed bag. On the positive side of the ledger is the sharp turn-in when cornering, along with accurate steering. On the other hand, that same steering felt more than a tad light and artificial in feel, even in Sport mode. Body roll is noticeable and it doesn’t take a lot of aggression to get squealing tires and some understeer.

2022 Infiniti QX55

That last bit of behavior announced itself on a dry road, but not half an hour before I’d been on a curvy stretch of tarmac that hadn’t yet dried from the previous day’s precipitation, and the QX seemed to want to slide just a bit, at lower speeds than one would expect. Different rubber might lead to an improvement, in both dry and wet conditions. The tires on this tester were Bridgestone Ecopias.

As a reminder, all QX55s are all-wheel drive, though with a bias towards front-wheel drive unless driving conditions demand an adjustment.

At the least the highway ride was pleasantly compliant without any hints of being soft. A quick note on the steering – this test unit had Direct Adaptive Steering, which is optional, though forced upon you should want Nissan/Infiniti’s ProPilot Assist system.

ProPilot Assist reads the lane lines and guides the car to stay in between them. It’s not automatically set to on – you must activate it. The system worked better for me than it has in past tests, though I’ve been told by Nissan folks that poorly marked lane lines can confound it, and in this instance, I was traversing a highway with pretty clearly painted lane markers.

2022 Infiniti QX55

Other TTACers interrogated me about the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), but while Nissan and Infiniti have been rightly criticized for the behavior of their CVTs in other applications, it was a model citizen here, with no wonky behavior or droning. Joe and Jane car buyer might not even know a CVT is in use.

Feature-wise, the QX55 is competitive, at least. There are three trims – Luxe, Essential, and Sensory – and my tester was a Sensory. Base pricing is $46,500, with the Sensory basing at $57,050. All trims come standard with AWD. Available features included Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi, 20-inch wheels, remote start, moonroof, LED lighting (including fog lights), rain-sensing wipers, head-up display, a power liftgate, keyless entry and starting, wood interior trim accents, ambient interior lighting, power tilt/telescope steering column, tri-zone climate control, leather seats, navigation, premium audio, and heated and cooled front seats.

Driver-aid tech included hill-start assist, parking sensors, 360-degree camera, smart cruise control, ProPilot Assist, traffic-sign recognition, rear automatic braking, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, high-beam assist, predictive forward-collision warning, blind-spot warning, blind-spot intervention, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, lane-departure prevention, and adaptive front lighting.

The only option was the Slate Gray paint, so with that and the destination fee, the sticker was $58,770.

2022 Infiniti QX55

Infiniti is a brand beleaguered. As is its parent, Nissan. But while Nissan is getting back to respectability in fits and starts, Infiniti took a big swing for the fences here. And while it didn’t strike out, it didn’t clear the outfield wall.

I tried to extend the baseball metaphor further, but like a ground ball hit towards Omar Vizquel, it went nowhere. Let’s just say that while the QX55 is likable, it doesn’t make the statement the brand really and truly needs right now.

The good news is that the QX55’s problems can probably be fixed at the mid-cycle refresh. More sound deadening and/or tweaks to the engine to increase smoothness probably don’t require a ton of engineering ingenuity or regulatory hoop-jumping. Nor, likely, would it be too difficult to shoe the QX55 with grippier rubber or to tweak the electronic power steering for better feel.

Until then, you have a sleek-looking crossover that doesn’t offend but doesn’t bring out the inner rockstar, either.

So much for Deep Purple. I guess yacht rock can be played on Wurlitzers, too.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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49 Comments on “2022 Infiniti QX55 First Drive – Swing and a Miss...”


  • avatar
    Garrett

    The outside sort of looks like something that Audi rejected as they decided on what a new model would look like.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    At least they didn’t bolt the center display on top of the dashboard – it seems nicely integrated.

    But wow – I don’t see $58k worth of value here. For that price, it ought to excel at *something*, but the QX55 appears to be just another anonymous crossover. It would nice to say it was super quick, or very quiet, or very economical, or spacious, or good-looking – just something.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      I’d give it good-looking, though it doesn’t look as good in photos as it did in person.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      It actually looks out of date (these days, need to go with a horizontal dash layout, of which tablet style screens are conducive).

      There are ways to integrate a tablet form-factor screen well.

      Compare this dash design with that of the GV70.

      Infiniti is just following the industry trend of charging more for a crossover-“coupe” (see X5 vs X5), but that usually entails the “coupe” offering a more sporting experience.

      Speaking of the GV70 (which, despite not being a “coupe”- does have a bit of a sloping roofline), why would anyone get this over the Genesis (aside from blowout lease deals)?

  • avatar

    This is a pity I recall getting an FX 35 rental in Montana and enjoying it immensely the V-6 was very performance oriented and the suspension was tight Also at that price point I expect gears not a rubber band in my transmission.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Base models will help dealers stay afloat on a sea of $429 and $449 leases, but this is not going to do anything to turn Infiniti into a desirable brand.

    This loaded version is just silly. $58K is within a hair of getting into a GLC 43 AMG with a longitudinal platform and that incredible inline six. A coarse 2.0T Infiniti has no business in that neighborhood.

  • avatar
    gasser

    I am a few months away from retirement. I don’t know how the value of this SUV plays out. $58K for a 4 cylinder engine with max power in the upper revs?? The reason that people used to give for buying Infiniti or Lexus over a European brand was the value proposition. One of my neighbors (a retiree) has had a long succession of leased FXs. I just don’t see him spending that kind of money for the QX55.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I suspect Renault would like to torpedo the whole Infiniti line but the cost to buy out the dealers would be pretty high.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      They simply need to “restructure” the Alliance and in the process declare bankruptcy for Infiniti USA. Goes to court of course but they’d offer a settlement and be done with it. This is the time to do so, given how screwed up everything is in the US economy it won’t be seriously contested.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I agree – IF their plan is to continue trying to sell this stuff at Mercedes prices, they should just toss in the towel now and get the lawyers working on payouts. Trying to sell a car like this for $58,000 is just stupid – Mercedes/Lexus/Audi/BMW get away with it because they’re established players. Infiniti de-established itself a long time ago.

        But I do see a future for this brand – just at a far lower price point. Think “semi-Japanese Buick.” That one might work. “But, Genesis,” you say, and true, Genesis has better stuff, but it also doesn’t have a dealer network (well, one that isn’t sharing space in Hyundai showrooms, anyway), but Infiniti does.

        With the right product at the right price, they could carve out a place for themselves. This is the right product at the wrong price.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          It took forever, but Genesis is getting standalone dealers. I’ve actually been to one and it is about a hundred times better than what I’ve experienced at H/K locations.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @ajla:

            That’s good news. Here in Denver, though, they’re still peddling their wares at Hyundai dealers.

        • 0 avatar

          I think Infiniti is trying to pull an Acura-dress up the base frame, price it jussst below the next class up.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Genesis has a higher ATP (by a good margin) than Lexus or Infiniti (which both have an ATP around $50k), and the GV80’s ATP is $65k.

          Thing about having separate showrooms is overblown (in the long-run, will need to do so; more standalone Genesis stores are forthcoming).

          Look at the Telluride which has an ATP of $43,500 (higher than Acura’s ATP); ultimately, what matters the most is the product.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Let me get this straight – taking three years to make a lazy X4 version of their uncompetitive, lot poison QX50, with no powertrain changes, and no infotainment changes, is them “swinging for the fences?” Swinging for the fences would be if they actually PRODUCED one of their electric vaporware “vision” concepts that they roll out every few years and then instantly mothball.

    That infotainment setup sucked when it came out EIGHT YEARS AGO, and now it’s just an embarrassment. Look at what Audi is doing with their two screens, and then look at this. It’s beyond pathetic. My cell phone is bigger than their NAV screen.

    All of the effort they put into developing the VCT, and it gets middling fuel economy and has no torque. Awesome. This brand is doomed, it won’t be long before they are what Lincoln used to be, slightly rebodied Nissans that nobody cares about. They might as well get started and give the Alitma a waterfall grill and call it the new I35. Or I guess Q35, because everything’s Q now. What a brilliant decision that turned out to be.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Pardon me Mr. Healey, I am fairly new to your country and not so familiar with your American sport of “baseball”. If great automotive writer uses such term as “swing and a miss” it means such baseball player makes no contact with ball? Or player hits ball with bat and ball travels some distance, perhaps near… how you say… “outfield wall”?

    Obviously I am confused as non-native speaker (and mostly big big hockey fan), because your sports talk does not make such good sense right now. Please to clarify – do you know sports? Do you know how to write great automotive review? Of course yes and yes, so maybe I am still confused by this great great country.

    Maybe your great democratic leader Mr. Biden also shares your deep skill for clear and concise communication. (I have much envy for you both.)

    Now I should watch today’s press conference once more and get more motivation to learn great English language from top experts.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      I sense your sarcasm. You’re laying it on pretty thick.

      Yes, I headlined the piece swing and a miss. Yes, I later said Infiniti didn’t hit a home run and didn’t strikeout. Yes, I understand that taken literally, that is contradictory. It’s called taking a bit of creative license to make a point.

      We do that around here sometimes.

  • avatar
    JMII

    At $58k no way. Now after the two year leases are up and the massive depreciation sets this will be make for a decent value. Seems Infiniti is rapidly becoming the new Pontiac. The “almost good” brand that adds some style but not much else. Mazda is eating into their space as they have moved upmarket while Infiniti prices themselves off people’s radar. Before at least they had the smooth 3.7l V6 but with a turbo 4 its become too similar to Mazda offerings.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Mazda is eating into their space as they have moved upmarket”

      I will find this puzzling if it actually worked.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I’m not super on board with Mazda’s upmarket move but on a micro-level I’d much rather have a CX-5 turbo over the QX50/55.
        Heck I’d do the V6 Cherokee or V6 Blazer over it too.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I don’t know if I could own or even drive any of those listed (passenger, sure).

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I don’t know what I’d do with a CUV.
            Carry a bunch of paper towels I guess.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Been thinking of tossing the A3 in for something with a bit more back seat and cargo room (a new car warranty would be nice), and tried out a CX-30 and CX-5, both with the 2.5 turbo. The scuttlebutt is that these are the two best-driving non-lux CUVs you can buy, but “nderwhelmed” doesn’t even begin to describe it – they had decent power, but they just blunder and bob through corners. No thanks. I’ll stick with sedans.

            I will say this, though – Mazda is doing a darned legit job of being a “cheaper Audi” brand. I can’t see the sense at all in buying a Q5 for almost twenty grand more.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Freed

            I’m not sure what you need the space for, but I do just fine with a hatchback of similar size. Its one of those things where, “yes I’d like more space” but you don’t get much more usable space with the next rung up.

            @ajla

            “Carry a bunch of paper towels I guess.”

            Why bother when there is Amazon?

          • 0 avatar
            Daniel J

            We have a cx5 turbo with awd. Almost fully loaded. We paid 34,500 for it. I have no idea why I’d want this thing. The Buick envision we drove would probably be better than this thing.

            Cx5 has alot more room than most compact hatches.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I was just stuck with a horrible 2021 Q50 rental for 2 weeks. I can’t imagine wanting to spend time in this thing.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I have a great idea. Why don’t Infiniti dealers just get the Genesis rights.All are in toney suburbs right down the road from Lexus and DTM dealerships. The high end coffee lounge is already furnished and the pastry contracts are already in place.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, not happening, but you bring up the key problem with Genesis – they don’t have a standalone dealer network to speak of. Trying to sell a $55,000 GV80 is a lot harder when there’s a $35,000 Hyundai Santa Fe 20 feet away.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Presently not an issue.

        The ATP on the GV80 is $65k (which is a good bit higher than for the RX/RX-L) and there is 4-6 month wait for the top 3.5T Prestige.

        Think what cimarron is saying is that those Infiniti dealerships should switch to Genesis, but that’s basically impossible (unless they are willing to purchase a local Genesis franchise).

        And there actually are a few stand-alone Genesis store with more on the way.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    I’ve had a G37S coupe since they came out late in 2007. It was a big improvement over its predecessor, the G35. The Infiniti dealer offered loaners when you brought your car in for service. My impressions driving them were that they were a bit more refined, especially the computer graphics, but not enough better than my G37S to prompt me to trade it for a new one. To continue the baseball analogy, Nissan/Infiniti seems to be able to make base hits but not home runs.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Don’t have to squint terribly hard to see last gen Buick LaCrosse dash/center stack. It isn’t a match, but it sure is evocative.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    So it doesn’t “Ride Like The Wind?”

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Some nice shapes, but generally just another midsize S/CUV indistinguishable from all the rest. And, can we please declare a moratorium on semi-gloss black wheel openings – it’s the biggest, stupidest cliche in all of automobile design. The thing about this car, or just about any new car in the last 5-10 years is none of them look like they will be around and functioning in another 10-years, the quality is so poor, the technology so obtuse.

  • avatar
    bufguy

    Although the design is inoffensive, it is totally unoriginal with all the styling cliches:
    high beltline, low roof line with gun slit windows…check
    oversized grille with huge emblem…check
    gaping openings flanking the grille with lighting….check
    the obligatory chrome bling at the trailing edges of the front fenders….check
    the vertical slits at the rear of the car…..check
    I’m surprised it doesn’t have the “floating roof” seen in so many CUV’s

    Cheaper cars like the CX5 and even the Tiguan are actually refreshing these days with their cleaner stying

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