Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
I can vividly recall the imperial Q45 my best friend’s father owned during our reign in high school back in South Jersey. My parents didn’t have the luxuries of transportation on such a higher plateau so I was honored with the entitlement of riding with Damon and his family. Yet, it was Infiniti’s nomenclature itself that left the biggest impression on our crew. A Q45 represented respect, and at the time that’s what was important. So it’s good to see that the Japanese manufacturer of fine, luxury autos has resorted back to a permanent alphanumeric naming convention for its progressive roster. So welcome the re-imagined 2016 Infiniti QX50.
It’s a good time for the small, premium utility market as consumers are attempting to mesh their expectations into one defining vehicle. Versatility for young families with the benefits of performance, style, and comfort are key factors for those looking for more than just a rugged crossover. With sales up 10.5% locally in the U.S. and 14% globally, Infiniti expects the momentum to continue with the release of the updated QX50 which I drove recently around the alluring San Diego area.
The heart of the QX50 is Infiniti’s infamous 3.7-liter V6 engine backed by 325-horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission with Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) and manual shift mode with Downshift Rev Matching. Pretty intuitive, but I would have liked to see steering wheel shift paddles on this model. The crossover can be had with either AWD ($35,850) and RWD with Snow Mode ($34,450) and standard 8-spoke 18” aluminum alloy spins tucked in chunky 225/55R18 rubber. The pricing structure represents a $550 reduction from the 2015 QX50s. Of course I will always take AWD over FWD or RWD since I live on the East Coast, and also because I have fallen in love with the performance parameters of AWD. Yet, this system seems to weigh the vehicle down. It felt sluggish in comparison to the RWD, especially around uphill valley roads in route to Rancho Valencia Resort. As far as economy, Infiniti says the 3.7 will provide 17 city and 24 highway mpg.
Acceleration is effective, steering is noble for a crossover, and the suspension flows fluidly “in and out” of transitions. I relatively enjoyed all aspects of the QX50’s driving experience. “The enhanced 2016 Infiniti QX50 delivers a rewarding experience for both driver and passengers,” said Randy Parker, vice president, Infiniti Americas. “With its standard 325-horsepower 3.7- liter V6 and range of advanced safety, driving and parking aids such as Around View Monitor, driving is a pleasure. And with the added rear seat roominess and cargo flexibility, passengers will enjoy riding in an QX50 more than ever before.”
If you are considering upgrading from the 2015 to the 2016 model make sure to recognize the bevy of noticeable differences between the two. The latter has a higher stance, 3.2” wheel-base increase, more rear legroom (4.3”), a new rear bumper, integrated coat hanger on the back of the driver’s headrest, and power folding rear seats which can be lowered from the front seat position. It’s exterior is highlighted by a jeweled dual chrome grille, aluminum roof rails, tailgate spoiler, lower body molding, and dual exhaust tips embedded within the sizeable skid plate. An upgrade to the $2,400 Deluxe Touring Package will get you the 5-spoke 19” rims as well as HIDs, an Adaptive Front Lighting System, power seats, premium stitching, and the aforementioned coat hanger and 2nd row power folding seats.
From inside our loaded cockpit we were welcomed to premium leather seats, aluminum pedals, maple accents, a multi-function steering wheel, power sunroof, and enough communications technology to keep us occupied for extended, longer drives. Especially from the passenger chair which fully lies flat. It would not have been a problem taking a nap while listening to the conscious reggae vibes of XM’s station 42. Yet, I had to navigate my co-pilot and didn’t want to be viewed as selfish. Our vehicle was also endowed with the $2,000 Premium Plus Package with Infiniti Navigation, a smaller 7” LCD Screen, and the Around View Monitor which graphically displays the surroundings of your ride. However, the graphics on the Nav were pretty basic and not on the level of Infiniti’s QX80 for example. As an audiophile, I did appreciate the high-performance 11-speaker Bose audio system that is integrated within the $500 Premium Package. It’s run by an 8-channel Bose digital amplifier with custom equalization and digital signal processing. Bob Marley never sounded better. The audio system features:
- Three 3.25” Twiddler mid-/high-range speakers, one in the center of the instrument panel and one in each D-pillar.
- Two 2.5” Twiddler mid-/high-range speakers, one on each side of the instrument panel.
- Four 6.5” wide-range speakers, one in each door.
- Two 4.5” Nd Richbass woofers in a 7.7-liter custom-engineered enclosure mounted in the spare-tire well (powered by a dedicated amplifier).
As with all Infiniti vehicles safety is just as important. You will be happy to know the QX50 is endowed with front seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags, roof-mounted curtain side impact supplemental air bags, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), Traction Control System (TCS), Vehicle Security System (VSS) with remote keyless entry, and the Infiniti Vehicle Immobilizer System. If you step up to the $2,750 Technology Package then your QX50 will be enhanced by Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Departure Prevention (LDP), Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), and much more. Some of the alerts are annoying (can be turned off) but well worth their weight in safety when it comes to accident prevention.
See, the proof is in the pudding. I’m always amazed at the level of enticement small, premium vehicles can bring to big egos. The QX50 certainly does not lack much, while providing an orchestra of appreciations. The only major impediment may be the final tally after loading your ride with the four option packages. Our 3.7L V6 AWD totaled $44,935 after it was all said and done. Enjoy the drive!