With apologies to the EX35, or whatever it was eventually renamed, Infiniti has been without a proper, competitive entry in the compact luxury SUV segment. You know, the segment that's growing faster in sales and entries than any other? To say the 2019 Infiniti QX50 is long awaited would therefore be an understatement.
At first glance and drive, the new QX50 would indeed seem to be wildly more competitive than its predecessor, which come to think of it, was eventually called the QX50 as well. This one is based on an all-new front-wheel-drive platform, and although it lacks the inherent verve of the old, rear-drive- and 370Z-based one, the resulting increase in cabin space should be a welcome tradeoff. In fact, as you'll see below, the QX50 has gone from one of the smallest compact SUVs to the most spacious.
How does it stack up in every other way? Say, against the segment's four best-selling entries last year: the 2018 Lexus NX 300, 2018 Acura RDX, 2018 Audi Q5 and 2018 BMW X3. On paper at least, really well as it turns out. Let's go to the spreadsheet!
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Comparing engines, drivetrains and transmissions
With the exception of the Acura, all of the contenders come with 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines. As you can see, the Infiniti is the heavyweight amongst the four-bangers, boasting the most horsepower and torque. The Acura V6 nips it by 11 hp, but the QX50 is still the overall torque champ. Plus, as we documented in the QX50 first drive, the Infiniti's new VC-Turbo engine is also the most technologically advanced. The Lexus is the wimp of the group and is also the second-heaviest, which isn't exactly the ideal scenario.
The Infiniti is the only one in the group to feature a continuously variable transmission. That's not going to generate much applause around here. The BMW tops the gear count with eight, while the Audi is the only entry with a dual-clutch automated manual. The Acura and Lexus have only six gears, but they're good transmissions and it's not like their fuel economy is off the pace.
The Audi and BMW come standard with all-wheel drive, while the others offer a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
Comparing cargo and interior space
The new front-wheel-drive platform is paying dividends inside for the 2019 QX50, as it now boasts the most maximum cargo space at 65.1 cubic feet. That's not that much more than the RDX, Q5 and X3 that are within 2.3 cubes of each other, but it's certainly better than the NX (one of the smallest in the segment). The QX50 is also the champ with the rear seats in place, while the Lexus and its chopped roofline is barely better than a midsize sedan.
Rear seat room also goes to the Infiniti, although the previous leader, the RDX, isn't too far behind. Once again, the Lexus is at the bottom, while the Germans hold the middle ground. Really, if you're looking for the most family-friendly compact luxury SUV, the QX50 and RDX are pretty good places to start your search.
Comparing fuel economy and pricing
Once again, the Infiniti has an advantage here despite also having the most power. It's not a huge advantage, but only it tops the 30-mpg threshold on the highway. When you consider the EPA's combined fuel economy figure, the Audi and BMW are identical at 25 mpg, the NX 300 is next at 24 mpg and the Acura picks up the rear at 22 mpg (the downside of that V6). To be fair, there's also an NX 300h hybrid available that gets 31 mpg combined.
As for pricing, the Lexus wins one here by having the lowest base price, but the Acura and Infiniti provide more standard equipment (not to mention more space and power). All of the Japanese brands, however, offer more equipment for your money. That's not really news, though, as value has long been a key reason those brands are chosen instead of the arguably more fashionable Germans.