First Drive: Infiniti QX50

Infiniti's QX50 is all-new for 2019 and has been positioned to take on the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC head-on. I get to drive a lot of midsize SUVs, American's can't get enough of them. Last year, after the big three pickup trucks, the next three top-selling vehicles were all midsize SUVs. So it is easy to see why so many brands are putting some of their best designs and engineering into this segment. 

Starting at $36,650, the Infiniti QX50 Pure is priced thousands below its German competitors, is even slightly less expensive than a well equipped Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate. For just a few thousand more and still less than the base price of a Mercedes GLC you can get the Luxe trim level which gives you the panoramic sunroof,  lighting package, blind-spot warning, and several other added features. 

The vehicle we are testing is the Essential AWD model, in Hermosa Blue, with a base price of $45,450. The base price climbs quickly with the optional 'autograph' interior package, proactive package, proassist package, and sensory package, giving this QX50 a grand total of $58,495 including destination.  

Outside the QX50 is very handsome, with clean lines and just enough bright trim, it is sporty without chasing the "performance SUV" looks so many of its competitors are going for. The new turbocharged four-cylinder produces 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, coupled to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that does its best to pretend its a performance transmission thanks to sporty paddle shifters that work...ok.

The QX50 has the exact same 6.4-second 0-60 time as the less powerful Mercedes GLC 300, which I can only assume is due to the CVT. That being said once it's up and running the QX50 has plenty of passing power and is very smooth to drive on the highway or around town. Our real-world MPG was an average of 26 mpg, within the EPA estimated 24 mpg city and 31 highway.

Inside the QX50's Autograph package interior is stunning, white quilted leather, blue Alcantara, chocolate leather steering wheels and accents, and silver wood trim. It is a very nice place to be and it might be the prettiest interior trim offered in any midsized SUV. The shifter takes a little getting used to, the infotainment system is cumbersome, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto isn't even an option. The Bose sound system is great and the 4G LTE hotspot is nice in more rural areas.

It has ample cargo space with 31 cubic feet behind the back seat and nearly 65 cubic feet with the seats folded down. We took it on a picnic to the lake over the weekend and found it had plenty of room for the basket, blankets, cooler, and my camera bag.

Overall we the QX50 has a lot going for it, great interior, nice ride, plenty of room, but it is lacking an easy to use infotainment system and the lower trim levels don't offer as many of the luxury refinements as this fully loaded Essential. Even at just under $59,000, the QX50 is thousands less than its comparably equipped rivals and offers a lot of luxury and value.