Your favorite pair of boots. That perfect pair of jeans. That t-shirt that just feels right. What do clothes have in common with the Infiniti QX50? All of these things needed some break-in before they rose to favorite status. As we close in on a year with the 2019 QX50, it seems it may have done just that, for at least some of our staff.
The QX50 was an easy pick for a long-term test vehicle because of its status as the first production model with any genuinely new combustion engine technology to arrive in the last few decades: variable compression. Testing the VC-Turbo engine under the QX50’s hood seemed like a good way to get a solid real-world idea of its performance, economy, and, perhaps most important for a new engine technology, reliability.
The VC-Turbo has been the consistent star of the show, providing ample power, instant-on torque, and complete reliability over more than 12,000 miles so far. Gas mileage, on the other hand, has been less stellar than we’d hoped. Over the 12,423 miles we’ve driven the QX50 to date, it has averaged 20 mpg.
That’s significantly below either the EPA’s ratings of 24/30 mpg city/highway, as well as more than 20 percent lower than the EPA’s 26-mpg combined figure. Of course, it’s entirely possible that two significant factors are putting thumbs on the scale: We all drive and commute in L.A.’s notoriously unfavorable traffic conditions, and at least a few of us have feet that’d keep an old-timey plumber in solder for years.
This one little (possibly environment/driver-induced) foible aside, the QX50 has proved itself a welcome companion with surprising frequency given the constant parade of interesting sheetmetal that passes through our office. Especially for those traveling longer distances, the QX50 has become the go-to pick of the fleet.
“Just spent another weekend with the QX50, and I can’t get over (or even understand) the affection I have developed for this car,” wrote senior editor Aaron Gold in our QX50 Four Seasons logbook. “It’s become my go-to choice among the long-term fleet, because it’s just so easy to live with: more luxurious and with better semi-autonomous features than the Stinger, smaller and easier to maneuver than the Volvo, and it doesn’t bring out the asshole in me like the Civic [Type R].” Graphic designer Michael Cruz-Garcia agrees, whether the trip is long or short. “The QX50 has been my go-to car in our fleet,” he wrote. “It’s the full package for touring around the city in style and will fit the entire family without a complaint. The interior is a solid win, with an infotainment system that isn’t problematic and the white leather with blue suede always makes a lasting impression.”
It’s not just a great cruiser, either, but a car that actually makes you want to drive it—and be seen driving it. The VC-Turbo engine may not make great strides over its V-6 cohort in terms of gas mileage, but its turbocharged low-end torque makes it a tractable and even peppy companion in city traffic. “The QX50 has plenty of power to burst into gaps in traffic, and it’s a solid choice to roll up to any event or get those raised eyebrows from your neighbors,” wrote Cruz-Garcia.
Turning heads isn’t as easy from the inside, but our 2019 QX50 has impressed those who’ve enjoyed its cabin. “The interior is a solid win all-around,” said Cruz-Garcia, “and the white leather with blue suede always makes a lasting impression.” We were afraid that leather that looked so nice in its pristine white would discolor in the face of an endless stream of blue jeans, dogs, and coffee. But as Gold noted, “I’m also impressed by how well the white interior is holding up—I thought it’d be a mess, but as the QX rolls near 10,000 miles, it still looks as bright and shiny as a prop in a bleach commercial.”
That’s not to say there haven’t been any gripes. Of course there’ve been a few—often even from those who love it most. Hey, what can we say, we’re paid to notice these things. Gold, for example, experience some quirkiness with the climate-control system. “When outside temp is in the high 50s/low 60s, it’s hard to get the climate control to stay steady,” wrote Gold. “It goes very cold or very warm, and we had to fight with it to keep from freezing or baking.” Cruz-Garcia found fault with a slightly wonky gear selector, noting, “One improvement that can be made is adding a sturdier shifter that doesn’t rattle and isn’t such a problem when shifting gears.”
But despite these quibbles, the overall feeling for the QX50 is definitely one of surprised admiration and comfortable familiarity. For some of us, at least, it really has become that comfy T-shirt.
As the QX50 rolls into its final few months with us, we know already just how good a pick it was for a year’s stay, and we’re beginning to realize just how much we’ll miss it when its gone. Groundbreaking, stunning to look at, comfortable, and practical, the QX50 is, as we noted in our comparison with the European alternatives, one heck of a luxury crossover—even nearly a year on.
|Our 2019 Infiniti QX50|
|MILES TO DATE||12,423|
|GALLONS OF FUEL||608.13|
|FUEL COST TO DATE||$2,328.60|
|RECALLS AND TSBs||None|
|OUT OF POCKET||None|
|ENGINE||2.0-liter turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4; 268 hp @ 5,800 rpm, 280 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV|
|EPA MILEAGE||24/30/26 mpg (city/highway/combined)|
|LxWxH||184.7 x 74.9 x 66 in|
|OUR OPTIONS||Sensory package, $7,500
Autograph package, $2,500
ProAssist package, $550
ProActive package, $2,000
Illuminated kick plates, $465
115-volt outlet, $150
Premium paint, $500
Welcome lighting, $425