The 2019 Infiniti QX50 is the brand's second smallest crossover, and it's fully redesigned for the 2019 model year. Infiniti decided to use the stylish QX50 as a technology flagship, specifically using it to debut its variable-compression engine technology. It has since been shared with Nissan in the new Altima, but Infiniti got the new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder first. It makes a solid 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, numbers that are very similar to the outgoing QX50's 3.7-liter V6. However, the 2019 QX50 with all-wheel drive (as our tester is equipped) nets you 26 mpg combined to the old car's 20 mpg combined rating. Infiniti pairs the new engine with its continuously-variable transmission. We happen to be testing the absolute pinnacle of what a QX50 can be: the "Essential" trim level. The base QX50 Pure starts at $37,645, whereas ours towers up to $59,085. That steep price is thanks to the addition of several high-dollar packages, including the $7,500 Sensory Package. This is the price you'll pay to get the ultra-luxe interior that we happened to fall in love with. The Autograph Package added $2,000, netting us white leather with the blue suede accents. Then the ProActive ($2,000) and ProAssist ($550) packages provide all the advanced driver assistance features like ProPilot Assist. Take note that the frustrating steer-by-wire (DAS) system is also included in the ProActive Package. Assistant Editor, Zac Palmer: When fully optioned as our QX50 Essential tester is, this interior can mix it up with the best in the business. You may have to sell a kidney to afford it, but the quilted white semi-aniline leather, soft blue suede and light maple (real) wood is going to make it all worthwhile. Infiniti certainly nailed it on the materials, but the interior design and styling flourishes are executed just as successfully. There's a simplicity to the flatness and gently curving horizontal lines that feels so graceful and luxurious. I feel that I'd never tire of the cream, brown and blue color combination, though that light-colored leather means I'd forever be trying extra hard to keep it clean. All of this interior loveliness was almost enough to make me forget about this crossover's interior tech shortcomings. Infiniti hasn't integrated Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and the stock infotainment system isn't nearly polished enough to warrant such an omission. I'm no fan of Infiniti's unusual stacked dual-screen setup, and the newest infotainment systems from the Germans are far more advanced. Even when connected via Bluetooth, the QX50 was unable to tell me the name of the song and artist that was currently streaming from my phone. At least I thoroughly enjoyed that sound quality from the 16-speaker Bose Performance Series speakers. If you're able to overlook the tech issues, then spending time in the most expensive of QX50s becomes a luxury experience right at the top of its class.
Was a bit shocked at how nice the interior can get on a fully-loaded @INFINITIUSA QX50. The quilted stitching, blue suede and brown leather all play together rather nicely. But where's Android Auto and Apple CarPlay? @therealautoblog pic.twitter.com/gaGpFWpUXy — Zac Palmer (@zacpalmerr) June 20, 2019 Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: I enjoyed my weekend in the QX50. The VC Turbo engine, a finalist for the 2019 Autoblog Tech of the Year Award, sounds good and has plenty of pull. A compact crossover with 280 lb-ft of torque and all-wheel drive feels right. The 268-hp output is middling, but the torque more than makes up for it. The four-cylinder engine is achieving efficacy in the car business. We see it used in everything from sports cars to full-size trucks and it's working. Infiniti spent a lot of time and money developing the VC (Variable Compression) Turbo and it's giving a vehicles throughout the brand's lineup a new energy. Like Zac says, the interior is gorgeous. It's quiet, well-laid out, comfortable and near the top of the class. The only issue I have is with the infotainment. It's fine, but the controls and workflow are a bit nebulous. Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale: Zac and Greg went over the best parts of the QX50, so I guess I get to talk about the less stellar ride and handling. The ride itself is fairly good, very smooth and isolating, but handling is pretty disappointing. There's a fair amount of body roll, and not a lot of grip. You wouldn't know that through the steering wheel, though, which is connected to Infiniti's steer-by-wire system known as "Direct Adaptive Steering." It's feather-light and completely uncommunicative. But on the plus side, it doesn't feel nearly as disconcertingly disconnected as Infiniti's past steer-by-wire iterations. Maybe one day it will finally feel decent. Or maybe Infiniti will wise up and just stick to a direct physical connection between the wheel and the steering rack. At least it's an option, so you can skip if you want (and trust me, you do want). All this being said, if you're just looking for something comfortable to get you from A to B, this isn't a big issue, and the engine's impressive power, the Autograph package's spectacular interior, and reasonable pricing for this size of crossover, all make a compelling case for the QX50.