Like the Saviors They Are, Two Compact Crossovers Lifted Their Struggling Brands in October

It might not be the reality we want, but it’s the only reality we have. As car sales continue to dwindle (they’re down to roughly 30 percent of new vehicles sold), light trucks have picked up the torch at most brands, though some aren’t arriving fast enough to satisfy jittery executives in today’s stagnating market.

At two premium Japanese brands, the arrival of two crossovers in the scorching compact segment had exactly the effect their creators hoped for. Acura and Infiniti, faced with declining sales in recent years, had reason to smile in October. The recipe is working.

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Infiniti Wasn't Fibbing When It Estimated the Revolutionary QX50 Engine's Thirst

One thing is clear — with variable compression comes a newfound lack of thirst.

Infiniti’s previous midsize QX50 crossover didn’t astound in its thrift, garnering 20 miles per gallon on the EPA combined cycle. The move to a new, front-drive platform and addition of a years-in-the-making gasoline engine for 2019 has done wonders for the model’s drinking habit, however, and Infiniti engineers pegged the MPG figures right on the nose.

With the 2019 QX50‘s fuel economy now confirmed by the EPA, it begs the question: just how much of the model’s thriftiness can the variable compression engine take credit for?

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QOTD: Variable Displacement - New Hotness or Inevitable Blowout?

At this week’s L.A. Auto Show and Traffic Negotiation Event, Infiniti will reveal the next generation QX50 — an overdue replacement for the aged model formerly known as the EX35. While the introduction of a crossover that’s losing its V6 and rear-wheel-drive platform wouldn’t normally interest me, the model’s new engine does.

Today we’re going to discuss variable displacement and the future of internal combustion engines. Fly or flop, what say you?

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

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.

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Infiniti Offers a Peek at the 2019 QX50(?) as It Prepares New Crossover, Engine for L.A. Debut

Nissan’s luxury division isn’t saying it’s the next-generation QX50, but everything we know about that model and its revolutionary (and potentially risky) engine points to one conclusion.

For now, and until the vehicle’s unveiling at the L.A. Auto Show on November 28th, Infiniti simply refers to it as an “all-new model” — one boasting “world-first” technology. The technology’s no mystery, as after two decades of development Infiniti plans to launch a 2.0-liter variable compression gas engine. Expect class-leading interior volume, the automaker tells us.

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Compression Test: Infiniti Set to Unveil a Variable Compression Engine

We’ve mused on Infiniti’s Variable Compression Engine in the past, calling it everything from a chameleon to the holy grail. Its killer app? The ability to changes the distance the pistons travel in their cylinders by as much as 6 mm, or about a quarter of an inch.

Why is this important? Because it is, arguably, the first major change to the workings of a internal combustion engine in more than a century.

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The Discontinued Infiniti QX70, Nee FX, May Yet Return

2017 was the 15th and final model year for the Infiniti QX70, formerly known as the Infiniti FX. Sad, sad the day.

But is the QX70/FX, a dramatically curvaceous take on the modern idea of a crossover, dead and gone for good? Perhaps not. “We are now asking ourselves what is the QX70’s role?” Infiniti president Roland Krueger rhetorically asked Automotive News, “And what should it be?”

Maybe these questions come a year or two or 15 too late, but the fact that Krueger even broaches the subject suggests a high degree of willingness to reinsert the vehicle back into Infiniti’s lineup. If Nissan’s upmarket brand could copy the degree of success the FX earned early on in its tenure — more than 30,000 were sold in America in 2004 — then the rebirth can’t come soon enough.

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The Infiniti QX50 Goes on Hiatus While Infiniti Kills Off the QX60 Hybrid

As Infiniti prepares to launch the replacement for the Infiniti QX50 next year, quite likely fitted with a unique new turbocharged engine with continuously altered cylinder compression ratios, the first-generation Infiniti QX50 takes a breather for the 2018 model year.

It may not be a well-deserved break — the QX50, formerly known as the EX35 and EX37, accomplished little for the Infiniti brand in America — but it’s a long overdue pause on Infiniti’s compact crossover.

It’s an odd duck, the QX50. Essentially a fast but outdated wagon, frequently sold in rear-wheel-drive form, the QX50 is still widely available prior to its relaunch for MY2019. The Infiniti QX60 Hybrid, on the other hand, [s]is[/s] was the fuel-efficient version of Infiniti’s most popular product. At the end of the 2017 model year, the QX60 Hybrid is dead, Motor Authority reports.

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2016 Infiniti QX50 AWD Review - Athletic Heavy Drinker

From krill-hungry Lincolns to Predator-style Lexus grilles, the automotive market is littered with luxury crossovers like rocks covering the landscape of my home province of Newfoundland. With few exceptions, they’re all ponderous boxes offering the driving dynamics of tapioca pudding. Adding a sport package to these machines simply upgrades them to slightly warmer tapioca pudding.

The 2016 Infiniti QX50, though, surprised me … and I like surprises — for example, buying a new type of beer and finding it to my liking, or having a tool work better than expected. These are all experiences that give me pure joy. Heck, I even bought my first house largely based on the fact its floorplan wasn’t what I expected.

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  • Conundrum Was unlucky enough to have a ride in the back of one of these things shortly after they first appeared, a project of Mercedes' ownership of Chrysler and that silly German professor with the gigantico walrus mustache who ran the place.Brother rented one of these early Magnums. The ride in the back was of constant wallowing up and down, like a 2015 BMW 3 Series, where my senses were similarly assaulted by lack of attenion to rear ride comfort, Up front was OK in both, back seat ride bloody awful. Must be a Germanic trait.The Magnum had an additional sensory deficit. Interior smelled of the peculiar rubber/plastic dash. Smelled like Chinese winter boots for kids, or Chinese tires of yore. Pass.
  • Anonymous My dad drove an 84 LTD. He always bragged about how special it was. Interesting to see that again.
  • Conundrum Here's how much Ford had to do design-wise with that engine in the article's lead picture.Zero. It was a Cosworth when Cosworth was still original Cosworth, over 30 years ago. The engine shown is a development of the original DFV. Ford paid to have its name on the cam covers for decades.I wonder who Ford will get to design this proposed new F1 engine for 2026. Because sure as hell, they don't have the in-house talent to do it themselves.
  • Sayahh Story idea or car design competition: design a compact sedan, a midsize sedan, coupe and/or wagon specifically for people 6'4" through 7'2". Not an SUV nor a crossover nor a raised chassis like the US Toyota Crown or Subaru Outback.
  • Sayahh I only check map app only when absolutely necessary and only at a red light. An observation: lots of ppl leave 2 car lengths (or more) between themselves and the car ahead of theirs so that they can text or check the internet (because they are afraid they might roll forward and hit the car in front of them?) This drives me crazy because many ppl do it and 3 cars will take up almost 7 car lengths and ppl cannot get into the left turn lane when it's bordered by a cement "curb." Worse is when they aren't even using their phone and have both hands on the stewring wheel and waiting for the green light. Half a car length is enough, people. Even one car length is too much, but 3 or 4 car lengths? At 40 MPH, maybe, not at 0 MPH please.