2020 Infiniti QX50 test: a good value made better – road show

2020 Infiniti QX50 autograph

2020 Infiniti QX50 autograph

Visually, the QX50 is the same as last year.

Antuan Goodwin / road show

The 2020 Infiniti QX50 is basically the same car that my colleague Andrew Krok tested last year, It has the same powerful yet economical VC turbo drive train, the same intelligent ProPilot Assist driver assistance technology and the same opulent blue and white leather interior. But it is not I agree the same.

To like

  • Sharp design inside and out, especially with the white leather
  • The VC turbo engine offers excellent fuel economy and performance
  • More standard functions and updated technology make the 2020 model an even better bargain

I do not like it

  • Technical updates are nice, but using the dual display bones is cumbersome
  • The best ProPilot Assist technology is only available in the top equipment variant

Infiniti was unusually nimble when it came to upgrading its small luxury SUV and optimized the packaging and technology just a year after the launch of this generation. The changes are subtle, but given the strong competition in this class, every advantage matters. For 2020, the QX50 is more competitive than ever.

Better technology

Perhaps the most notable change for the 2020 model year is the updated cabin technology suite. Oh, the same cumbersome dual-screen setup is still used, with the interface split between an 8-inch screen at the top and a 7-inch screen at the bottom. However, the resolution for the top device has been increased, and the screen graphics are now razor-sharp and vivid. Touch responsiveness has been improved for both the top and bottom screens.

The physical control button on the center console remains in place so that the driver can take control of the top display without having to reach it – it's quite high up – or smudge the screen with fingerprints. These functions are simulated somewhat by a thumb switch on the steering wheel, which is very nice.

However, the organization of the software that powers these displays has not changed significantly since last year. In the upper display there is mainly the map for the navigation and the feeds of the rear and surround camera. The optional navigation software has been updated with higher resolution maps to make better use of the high resolution display, and the functionality continues to do the job. The bottom screen does most of the heavy lifting with special shortcut icons, navigation destination entries, settings, hands-free calls and audio controls, and secondary functions such as monitoring fuel consumption or SiriusXM warnings for stock prices, weather, etc.

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Overall, the system doesn't seem to do anything that you couldn't do with a single screen and a smarter interface design.

Antuan Goodwin / road show

The Infiniti system is still awkward to use, but fortunately Android Auto and Apple CarPlay Connectivity is now standard on the QX50. If you connect the device via USB, the desired interface for the car phone is shown on the upper display, where it can be controlled via touch input or the physical button. Neither is ideal. The physical controller is not entirely optimized for Android Auto, so it is difficult to make a selection or switch between the screen zones. I found it best to use the touchscreen directly, but as mentioned earlier, the top display can have a long range depending on the seating position. You may want to check it out a bit.

If you blink, you'll miss that one of the QX50's two dashboard USB ports has been converted to a Type-C connection – the other remains the familiar rectangular Type-A port. It's a nice touch for people who have switched all their devices to Type C, but I don't think there are any functional benefits beyond the connection. Both ports charged my Google Pixel 4XL when connected at the same speed.

Other standard functions

The available safety technology has not changed for the 2020 model year, but a number of once optional technologies are now standard in the QX50 series. This increases the starting price a little bit, but I think the extra value is worth it.

The SUV now offers lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear traffic warning with automatic braking and automatic high beam without activating a single option field. These new standard functions supplement the forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, rear parking sensors and reversing camera, which was adopted from last year. A surround view camera is an optional upgrade.

Work your way up the equipment ladder to unlock the Nissan / Infiniti ProPilot Assist. This combination of advanced adaptive cruise and lane keeping technology keeps the following distance behind a leading vehicle – up to a complete stop – and centers the QX50 on its lane with a single button press. The technology provides additional safety during a long motorway cruise, so that the driver can relax a little. However, you must always keep your hands on the steering wheel.

If ProPilot detects that you are out of hands or are drowsy, you will hear a beep and a warning message first. Then tap the brakes to shake the driver awake. If that doesn't get your hands on the wheel again – maybe there is a medical emergency that has disabled the driver – ProPilot will slow the vehicle in its lane and activate the hazard warning lights.

VC turbo performance

The QX50's VC turbo engine is an interesting setup. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder with turbocharger uses a new type of system with variable displacement, which can change the compression ratio of the engine during operation and changes from economical to powerful when the accelerator is pressed. Tip in performance and the QX50 is good for 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Sounds good, right?

I didn't love the QX50's powertrain as much as some of my colleagues. Perhaps it is the standard continuously variable transmission (CVT) that, although well tuned, feels a bit rubbery in the middle. Perhaps it is because of the delay in throttle response when waiting for the VC Turbo to switch between its two compression modes. Whatever is to blame, I always have the feeling that the QX50 is two or three seconds behind me, whether it accelerates for a pass or gives me strength when cornering.

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I wish the drivetrain was more responsive, but even I can see how balanced the 2020 QX50's performance and efficiency can be.

Antuan Goodwin / road show

That means I don't dislike the performance too. As is so often the case, more relaxed drivers will probably not mind waiting a bit, and the patient will be rewarded with a so-called V6 feeling once CVT and VC Turbo are on the same page. The ride is comfortable and the cabin is as quiet as you would expect from any vehicle in this class, keeping road and wind noise largely under control. The optional direct adaptive steering – standard on my autograph model – allows me to switch the steering feel, weight and responsiveness between a well-adjusted comfort setting and a more alert sport mode with a smaller dead zone in the middle.

On the economical side of the equation, you'll see 26 miles per gallon (23 cities, 29 highways) for front-wheel drive configuration. Four-wheel drive – an option of $ 2,000 – also costs you a few mpg and costs 22 cities, 28 highways, and 25 together. My AWD example rounded off the week with an average of 25.9 mpg on the on-board computer, which is pretty good for this class. Without the hybrid models, the BMW X3 xDrive30i only counts if it is equipped with a combined estimate of 26 mpg.

Sensory and autograph output

The improvements for 2020 continue with two new equipment options at the top of the range – the autograph and the sensors – in addition to the Pure, Luxe and Essential models.

With the new QX50 Sensory for 2020 ($ 48,900), you'll get 20-inch wheels, Bose audio, "Cube Design" LED headlights, leather seats, and blind spot interventions – an active security upgrade for blind spot monitoring using preload – brake intervention to prevent merging into a vehicle.

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Between Pure, Luxe, Essential, Sensory and Autograph, the QX50 has won the award for most decorative decorations this year.

Antuan Goodwin / road show

Sensory is also the lowest trim level that lets you choose ProPilot Assist – part of a $ 1,600 Proactive package that includes a head-up display, traffic sign recognition, and adaptive steering, and a three-zone climate control package worth $ 1,050. The $ 1,025 target fee factor and the cheapest way to get the QX50's best security is $ 52,575.

The top-of-the-range QX50 autograph ($ 53,850) is now more of a trim level than a special package. Autograph models have a standard ProPilot Assist, 20-inch wheels, a head-up display and a three-zone climate control system with a Plasmacluster air purification system, which is said to help keep the cabin smelling fresh by automatically sensing outside odors and the air scrubs. At $ 2,300 more than the optional Sensory model, it doesn't seem to be that much. If you activated the check box for autograph without also activating the check box for the premium package made of white leather worth $ 2,000, you are missing the point of this equipment variant.

The premium package of white leather, valued at USD 2,000, equips the QX50 autograph with a unique cabin color scheme that combines cream-white and chocolate-brown leather upholstery with the Pantone 2019 color of the year "Classic Blue". Exposed maple details and satin metallic details complete the look and make this QX50 stand out from the crowd. As a luxury upgrade, this cabin beats well above its weight class for the money. Hit AWD, lighted step plates ($ 485), and welcome lights ($ 425) to reach my high, tested price of $ 59,785.

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Don't let your kids eat here unless you like scrubbing chocolate from white, quilted, perforated leather seats.

Antuan Goodwin / road show

How I would specify it

The fully featured autograph is dope, but the lower trim levels benefit most from the new standard safety features and improvements in cabin technology. The Base 2020 QX50 Pure with its 19-inch wheels, keyless entry and push button start offers a very good price-performance ratio of $ 37,250. The Luxe ($ 40,250) offers a beautiful panoramic sunroof, LED fog lights, and a rain gutter.

The sweet spot is the 2020 QX50 Essential ($ 44,100), which offers useful features like a surround view camera and automatic collision notification that calls the emergency service in the event of an accident. Major models can be upgraded with a $ 800 Pro Assist package – not ProPilot Assist – that offers adaptive cruise control, lane departure prevention, blind spot intervention, and "Cube Design" LED headlights with adaptive lighting. This level of adaptive cruise doesn't work in stop-and-go traffic, and the steering assistant doesn't center the QX50 like ProPilot Assist, but with this package, you're very well equipped for around $ 45,925 – around $ 6,650 less than one ProPilot sensor or $ 13,860 less than my autograph tested.

Tough competition

I'm not saying you should avoid the white leather autograph, but you have Really I have to like this car to spend almost 60 giants on it. In the entry-level and mid-range segment, the 2020 Infiniti QX50 is excellent value for money and very competitive in this small luxury SUV class, to which the Acura RDX, the Audi Q5, the BMW X3, the Cadillac XT5 and the Lexus NX belong – not the best, but competitive Safe, with one of the largest loading capacities and the largest fuel consumption at the top of its class. And despite a slight price increase for 2020, it's still cheaper than everyone else except the Lexus NX 300.

Yes, I wish the powertrain was more responsive, but even I can understand how balanced the 2020 QX50's performance and efficiency can be. And now, with smarter packaging and better technology, it's even better than before.