After driving several competent, but ho-hum, SUVs recently, the all-new 2019 Infiniti QX50 was a sight for bored eyes.
The curvaceous crossover — dressed in black — is a serious vehicle, with head-turning good looks and a new, variable compression ratio engine that makes 268 horsepower. Infiniti says the first-of-its-kind VC-turbo engine adjusts the compression ratio by altering the piston stroke. In plain English, it has the power of a gas engine and the torque of a diesel.
Indeed, the engine's 280 pound-feet of torque give the QX50 a burst of power that is both fun and useful — useful, like when you are straining to merge onto Highway 27 in downtown Chattanooga from a dead stop.
Model: 2019 Infiniti QX50 Essential
Exterior color: Black Obsidian
Interior color: Graphite
Engine: 2.0-liter turbo
Transmission: continuously variable
Fuel economy: 31 mpg highway, 24 mpg city
Local Dealer: Infiniti of Chattanooga
Price (as tested): $55,285
Sculpted like a human muscle, the QX50 has an athletic stance. Twenty-inch wheels and elegant flourishes of chrome cement the upscale look. Semi-aniline leather seating and natural maple wood accents make the cockpit a first-class environment.
Locally, Infiniti Chattanooga, 7646 Lee Highway, had 18 QX50s in digital inventory late this week, ranging in asking price from about $39,000 to just over $54,000. An advertised low-mileage lease deal of $379 per month for 39 months for a mid-trim Luxe model is a compelling offer.
WHAT IS IT? The 2019 Infiniti QX50 is a small, five-passenger luxury crossover that competes with the BMW X3, the Cadillac XT5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC-class. It comes in three trim levels, Pure (base $37,546), Luxe ($40,393) and Essential ($44,345).
WHAT DOES IT COST? Our top-of-the-line Infiniti QX50 Essential has an MSRP of $55,285. The price includes the $7,500 Sensory Package with all manner of interior upgrades and ProAcive safety-tech package that lists for $2,000.
WHAT WE LIKED: The swoopy design, high-quality interior, suede-covered center stack, padded dash, quiet operation and light wood inlays.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: The QX50 has high shoulders which make it a little hard to park in tight spaces. The engine is so quiet that sometimes it's hard to know when it is shut off. The two touchscreens — 8-inch on top, 7-inch below — are bad about picking up finger prints.
DRIVING IMPRESSIONS: The QX50 has a continuously-variable transmission which helps with fuel economy and smoothness of operation. The added horsepower from the newfangled engine also helps it claw up our local mountain roads.
BOTTOM LINE: If you need a five-passenger crossover, but dread driving a rolling breadbox, the new Infiniti QX50 has enough style and substance to hold your attention.
Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.