We have always been attracted to “Personal Crossover Vehicles.” When Infiniti decided to refresh its 2016 Infiniti QX50 3.7-liter RWD CUV, we decided it was high time to take another look.
Sure, it has been around for a few years, both as the QX50, and as the Infiniti EX35, as it was known in a past life. But the question persists: can a name change, and the addition of 3.2 inches, make a vehicle fresh once again? Read on to find out.
Just what exactly?
A personal crossover vehicle, the QX50 is a front-engined, rear- or all-wheel-drive crossover that features a singular engine choice — the Infiniti 3.7-liter V6 that puts out to the tune of 325 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. Fueled by a sequential multiport fuel injection system, the engine is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shift functionality, as well as downshift rev-matching, for a more engaging drive.
The QX50 is built upon a unibody platform, with a double wishbone and twin-tube shocks in front and an independent multilink kit in the rear. Speed-sensitive variable assisted power steering is there for those who determine that the QX50 is right-sized as a luxury haul-all that is at home in the jungle, whether urban or extra-urban.
Safety hasn’t taken a back seat on this Infiniti, which includes standard ABS with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and braking assist. Vehicle dynamic control with traction control is also included at no extra charge. Available (added cost) extras include Infiniti’s version of adaptive cruise control, which will bring the car to a stop and start it up again depending on vehicles and traffic flow in front of it. In the case of our tester, it was a part of the $2,750 Technology Package.
The QX50 is available in one base trim level ($34,450) that can be upfitted through the addition of other packages. The basic kit includes 18-inch alloy wheels, halogen headlamps, dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, eight way power driver seat and a four-way power front passenger seat, heated and folding outside mirrors, keyless entry, a standard moonroof, basic cruise control and a sound system with Bluetooth connectivity and USB ports.
The aforementioned technology package is next, and includes Intelligent Cruise Control, blind spot warning, lane departure warning and prevention, distance control assist, and Infiniti’s intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning that can read up to two cars away.
Next up was the Deluxe Touring Package and its 19-inch alloy wheels and HID Xenon headlights. They are joined by the Infiniti adaptive front lighting system with auto leveling, a coat hanger on the driver seat headrest, power-up folding second row seats, and premium stitching on the meter hood (aka the dashboard to you and me).
The Premium Package adds a Bose 11-speaker premium sound system, advanced climate control dual occupant memory system, Entry/exit assist for the driver’s seat and steering wheel, maple wood accents, aluminum roof rails, and a power tilt and telescopic steering wheel.
Finally, our QX50 tester went Full Monty and included the Premium Plus Package with its Infiniti navigation system, 7-inch color touch screen display and Around View monitor with front and rear sonar.
For our CUV, the cherry on top had to be the illuminated kick plates, checking in at the price of $440.
Looks are everything.
Visually unchanged for 2016, except for a mildly enhanced front and rear fascia, with revised daylight running lights, the QX50 returns for more after receiving a wheelbase extension of 3.2 inches. The net result is a cavernous rear seat with legroom to accommodate three NBA forwards. We exaggerate, of course, but we also find the rear seat is now downright comfortable. It’s at this point that the Infiniti now competes directly with the likes of Acura’s RDX, BMW’s X3 and Audi’s Q5.
While the wheelbase extension was absolutely necessary and allowed for nearly four and a half inches of extra legroom, we can’t say the rest of the interior has improved by that same measure. We absolutely appreciate the maple wood trim inside that looks to have come from a fine musical instrument builder, and the around-view monitoring system which gives the driver a bird’s eye view of obstructions located around the car. On the other hand, we feel the Infiniti Controller has become dated, and less exclusive, because it is also offered in several less expensive Nissan vehicles.
Rear cargo space measures up at 18.6 cubic feet behind the second row seating. Fold them forward, using the Power Up function that is part of the Deluxe Touring Package, and that space grows to 50.1 cubic feet.
Behind the wheel.
If you consider that the 3.7-liter V6 found under the hood of the QX50, forms the basis of the powerplant in Nissan’s 370Z, you would not be surprised by the QX’s performance. While nothing that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) would write home about, the V6 provided engaging qualities when exercised by our right foot. In automatic mode, the seven-speed transmission shifted flawlessly with nary the hunt for an appropriate cog. Flipping it over into manumatic mode engaged its rev-matching abilities for a much more enthusiastic ride.
Steering was well sorted from the speed-sensitive power-assisted rack and pinion set up. Offering a nice heft to wheel, it had inspired moments where it felt as though it was directly mounted. At other times the speed sensitive boost took over to give it a somewhat bland feel that might feel just right for most drivers. Ride quality was not harsh due to Infiniti’s chassis specifications, aided in no small part by the QX50’s new longer wheelbase.
Depending on their driving styles, buyers should expect mileage ratings of 17-city/24-highway with 20 mpg combined, which we consider somewhat disappointing.
Longer is better.
Infiniti extends the wheelbase of their entry QX50 and in the process extends the life of one of their more popular CUVs. We’d bet there is a model refresh in the not too distant future that will update the styling and improve fuel economy at the same time.
2016 Infiniti QX50 RWD: Base price: $34,450. As tested: $43,535.
Lauren Fix is a nationally recognized automotive expert, media guest, journalist, author, keynote speaker and television host. A trusted automotive expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics, energy and safety issues for both the auto industry and consumers. Her analysis is honest and straightforward. Follow Lauren on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram