Car Reviews SUV of the Year

Infiniti QX50: 2019 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender

Beautiful, but held back by its transmission and infotainment system

Beautiful, but held back by its transmission and infotainment system

WE LIKE Fantastic engine, gorgeous styling, spacious cabin

WE DON’T LIKE Disappointing CVT, frustrating infotainment system

A technical wonder of an engine sits under the hood of the striking QX50, but this beautiful luxury crossover is held back by its transmission and infotainment system.

The automaker’s new 268-hp variable-compression turbo-four has potential for greatness but is sadly paired to a CVT that holds it back. CVTs can provide an effortlessly smooth commute, but here, the transmission has trouble managing the engine, occasionally leading to surging and an unrefined driving experience.

“There is constant conflict between the many variables in the engine and the variables in the transmission,” Frank Markus said.

Before anyone drives the QX50, though, they’ll ogle it. The Infiniti’s knockout styling effectively upsizes the sexy QX30. Inside a QX50 with the Autograph package, the interior greets the driver with a stunning combination of light-colored matte wood, dark blue Ultrasuede trim, white diamond-stitched semi-aniline leather seats, and a brown upper dash. At least in its nearly $60,000 USD form, the QX50 looks every bit the luxury vehicle it should. The positive first impression continues with a spacious rear seat and cargo area.

But the undertaking starts to fall apart when you look closer. There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and Infiniti’s dual-screen user experience continues to lag behind the rest of the industry in usability. The center stack includes a navigation screen up top, with a multiuse info screen at bottom bordered by buttons— but there are no tuning or HVAC control knobs. Angus MacKenzie called the infotainment system “infuriatingly complex,” and Scott Evans described it as a “UX disaster.” Until Infiniti can overhaul the infotainment system and fix the clashing engine and transmission, the QX50 remains merely an attractive contender.


2019 Infiniti QX50 AWD (Essential)
Base Price/As tested $46,145/$59,585
Power (SAE net) 268 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque (SAE net) 280 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm
Accel, 0-60 mph 6.7 sec
Quarter-mile 15.2 sec @ 91.8 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 126 ft
Lateral Acceleration 0.83 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 26.9 sec @ 0.64 g (avg)
EPA City/Hwy/Comb 24/30/26 mpg
Vehicle Layout Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine/Transmission 2.0L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 /-speed Cont variable auto
Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 4,185 lb (59/41%)
Wheelbase 110.2 in
Length x Width x Height 184.7 x 74.9 x 66.0 in
Energy Cons, City/Hwy 140/112 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 Emissions, Comb 0.74 lb/mile