In these SUV-obsessed times, having a solid mid-size option is a must for luxury brands, and Infiniti is taking its swing at the bulging market with a completely redesigned 2019 QX50 debuting at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show — one that ups its game in a big way.
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I reviewed the old QX50 when it was refreshed in 2016 and thought it was decidedly "OK." It drove decently but lacked cargo room and the latest technology, even by 2016 standards. Infiniti then pulled the QX50 for the 2018 model year, giving it a year off for redevelopment; it now returns as a 2019 model to a field that's more competitive and crowded, including the refreshed 2019 Lincoln Nautilus that's also debuting in L.A.
The QX50 and Nautilus are similar in that they are trying to elevate themselves to compete with the upper echelon of the segment ( Mercedes -Benz and Audi ). I think the QX50 is more successful with that aim. The interior has improved dramatically, and materials are consistent and feel luxurious (especially the available quilted leather seats). There are some styling decisions I find questionable, such as the strip of suedelike material that runs up the center console, but overall the QX50 finally feels like a luxury SUV.
Second-row room is excellent, especially headroom. Even with a panoramic moonroof installed, there's still a good four or five inches between my head and the roof, and I had plenty of legroom to sit comfortably.
There are a couple caveats to dim my enthusiasm, however: the two screens for the multimedia system. The setup remains hard to navigate, especially the top screen that's controlled by a knob between the two seats and is limited in functionality. Using the built-in navigation is cumbersome, and getting through the menus takes effort. The lack of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay hurt the QX50; if you have a good multimedia system, alternatives like these are nice to have, but with a system like this one, they almost become must-haves.
The QX50 adds much more cargo room in the rear — the previous model had only 18.6 cubic feet of cargo space, which is barely more than some large sedans. The 2019 model expands that to 31.6 cubic feet, a nearly 70 percent increase. Slide the second row forward and that expands even more to 37 cubic feet. Infiniti says that with the seats up, you'll be able to fit three golf bags in the cargo area. The cargo area also contains a favorite feature of mine: underfloor storage to hide valuables from prying eyes.
I wasn't able to test what I consider the most exciting of the 2019 QX50's new features, the brand-new variable-compression Used Engine . This allows the Used Engine to switch more smoothly between power and efficiency, and the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder makes 268 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque.
No word yet on when the 2019 QX50 will make its way to dealerships or pricing. Price was a strong point on the old QX50, which started at a very reasonable $35,465 with destination for the base 2017 model. I'm not confident that the new QX50 will remain that low given its gains in size and quality, but once we do find out, you'll be the first to know.
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