2020 infiniti-qx50 front in towm 2.jpg

Entry price: $37,250;  As tested: $49,630

 

This week, we’re driving the all-new 2020 Infiniti QX50 SUV, delivered in Essential trim with AWD and featuring an all new design and first ever variable compression (VC) 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine.  Before we get further into explaining the advantages of this new engine, it is important to note that Infiniti took a year off to make sure its new generation QX50 is truly “all new” and that everything works properly for competing in this very important luxury sport Crossover/SUV segment.

The 2020 Infiniti QX50 offers consumers five front-drive trims, starting with Pure ($37,250), Luxe ($40,250), Essential ($44,100), and two new trims for ’20 Sensory ($48,900) and Autograph ($53,850). If you want AWD, add $2,000 to these prices.

All ’20 QX50s now include Apple and Android compatibility as standard along with previously optional driver-assist features. The two new trim levels help branch out the lineup while every QX50 produced now features forward collision warning, blind spot monitor, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, rear cross traffic alert with braking and automatic high beams.

I’ve always respected Infiniti when it comes to design, as the manufacturer many times led the class in distinctive and novel motifs be it car or SUV. In this case, we’re talking specifically about Infiniti QX50, the upper-class group of vehicles built by Nissan and in competition with Honda’s Acura and Toyota’s Lexus line of offerings. Infiniti did not offer a 2018 QX50 as this new generation debuted as a 2019 model.

In addition to QX50’s outstanding new exterior body style, the new 2.0-liter VC Turbo engine deserves extra note as it’s been 20 years in stages of development. With 268-horsepower and 280-lb. ft. of torque, this first ever variable compression engine operates in a range of 8.1 to 14.1 compression ratios thanks to piston stroke changes that occur automatically from accelerator pedal input.

Thus, when you are motoring on the freeway at a steady 65-MPH, a fuel efficient compression ratio is in use. However, under more to full throttle, the QX50 changes compression ratio and surprises everyone as to acceleration. We performed several timed runs from zero to 60-MPH and came in at about 6.0 seconds. Considering the curb weight of more than two tons with driver, Infinity engineers can take a bow on inventing a novel engine that gets the job done.

So, great looks aside, let’s give an initial thumbs-up on the new variable compression ratio engine that gives decent fuel mileage as I averaged 26.2 for a weeklong 500-mile run, mostly on freeways. For the AWD QX50, EPA estimates of 22 city and 28 highway are the averages.

Our QX50 came with Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive that connects to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that can be actuated by steering wheel paddle shifters if desired. Years ago, CVT’s had no paddle shifters as the transmission is basically a one gear unit. However, thanks to some internal upgrades and manipulation, the new Infiniti QX50 delivers a feeling of “shifting gears” even though it is a simulated gear shift experience. However, I much prefer QX50 utilize one of Infiniti’s “normal” automatics as I think it would result in a more refined, gear changing experience over and above the CVT’s limitations and “fake shifts” that it offers. 

Outwardly, QX50’new “Clamshell” hood and I-LED headlights are noteworthy. The headlights intelligently illuminate the direction you steer while the dominant and wide hood leads to the striking double arch grille. The design is highlighted along the sides by a crescent shaped and chrome d-pillar that leads to a good looking power rear hatch. The panoramic moonroof with power sunshade and roof rails also deserve note, as do the rear dual exhaust chrome tail pipes. 

The cabin is elegant and very comfortable with most amenity expectations in place. The QX50’s spacious five-passenger interior is completely redesigned with driver and passenger in mind. Navigation is standard once you get to the Essential, while a six-speaker stereo system with CD, four USB ports, Infiniti In Touch dual display with 8-inch upper and 7-inch lower screens are standard fare. Sensory and Autograph trims come with a Bose 16-speaker stereo, which is optional on lower trims while SiriusXM is standard across all five trims. 

In celebration of 30 years of Infiniti’s existence (debuted in 1989) our tester came with the Edition 30 Package for $1,200 more featuring 20-inch Bridgestone all season tires on special dark alloy wheels. This option is for consumers who like black and dark additions, like black outside mirror caps, 30 Edition badges, dark chrome grille and fender accents, graphite headliner and more. However, also bundled here is complimentary driver Pro Assist with extras like lane departure prevention, distance control assist, blind spot intervention and intelligent cruise, so it’s not just an aesthetics only option and is highly recommended by this scribe.

Another option we like is the $500 premium paint, while a $425 welcome lighting and $285 cargo package (neither necessary) brought the bottom line to $49,630 retail including $1,025 delivery. As for handling, it’s very good in all city and highway maneuvers with a suspension that features MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup out back. On the highway quiet is now the norm compared to the last generation regardless of trim chosen.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 110.2 inches, 3,957 lb. curb weight, 31.1 to 64.41 cu. ft. of cargo space, 36.4 foot turn diameter, and a 16-gallon fuel tank for premium fuel.

In summary, there’s an all-new player in this smaller luxury Crossover class, so make sure you test drive the QX50 if shopping this segment. It’s a great new generation and guaranteed to impress.

Likes: New multi compression engine, interior, complete makeover, safety.

Dislikes: CVT may not the best choice for this new engine, not much else.

Greg Zyla is a syndicated automotive columnist.