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2020 Infiniti QX50 Performance Review


Performance: 6.7

The 2020 Infiniti QX50 rides comfortably on uneven road surfaces and feels composed around turns, but its handling doesn’t exactly excite the senses. All models are equipped with a peppy four-cylinder engine that yields good fuel economy, but the QX50’s continuously variable automatic transmission dulls the acceleration and throttle response.

  • "From a driver’s point of view, this engine feels much like any other turbo-4, with some instances of lag upon hard acceleration but good power otherwise. Drivers most serious about fuel economy can engage an Eco mode via the drive-mode selector, but it has the uncomfortable tendency to add resistance to the accelerator pedal. Also in the name of efficiency, all models use a CVT automatic transmission that tends to drone upon aggressive acceleration." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "QX50 isn't particularly fast, but thanks to well-balanced, crisp handling and performance, it's fun to drive and can be quite rewarding." -- Autotrader
  • "Don't get us wrong, the QX50 is perfectly competent — it's an exceedingly quiet and comfortable cruiser. However, it's no longer the driver-pleasing machine its predecessor was." -- Autoblog (2019)

Acceleration and Power

The QX50 features Infiniti’s revolutionary VC-Turbo engine. This 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder can adjust on the fly to your driving behavior by lengthening or shortening the stroke of its pistons. In theory, this allows for stronger acceleration when you need it or improved gas mileage when you don’t. It works quite well in practice.

When driving, the engine doesn’t feel or sound any different than a conventional four-cylinder. The QX50 accelerates swiftly and provides adequate passing power on the highway. Engine output is measured at 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive are standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

This CVT saps a lot of the engine’s performance. It’s occasionally slow to respond to inputs, and full-throttle acceleration is seemingly met with more engine noise than forward movement.

The QX50 gets good fuel economy for a luxury compact SUV, though it is only just ahead of a number of rivals. It earns an EPA-estimated 23 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

  • "The engine seamlessly swaps between high compression during steady cruising and low compression during hard acceleration. While it never exhilarates when the pedal hits the metal, only those seeking a seriously quick crossover will be disappointed. Unfortunately, the engine is loud under heavy throttle, and the CVT makes this worse, especially around town." -- Car and Driver
  • "For all its high-tech ability to instantly change compression ratios to suit power or efficiency needs, the new VC-Turbo 4-cylinder engine feels similar to other turbo-4 units. With 268 horsepower there’s enough juice for competent acceleration. The continuously variable transmission (CVT), on the other hand, isn’t our favorite choice. In ordinary situations you may not notice there are no set gears, but when driven aggressively the new QX50’s transmission drones." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "But as far as performance goes, the engine's pretty modest. Matting the gas pedal off a stoplight doesn't do much besides make noise. Trying to find power on an aggressive corner exit isn't all that rewarding either. That said, the QX50 does surge to passing speed with plenty of competence as long as it has some momentum." -- Jalopnik (2019)

Handling and Braking

The QX50 offers balanced driving dynamics that should please most drivers. The suspension glides smoothly across most road bumps and dips without sending jolts through the cabin. The steering is quick and responsive, though it doesn’t provide much feedback from the road. The QX50 feels a little unsteady in tight turns, but not to the point of discomfort.

  • "The Infiniti prioritizes comfort and luxury, with a compliant ride that is composed on rough roads and smooth on the highway. … While the steering wheel provides little communication from the road surface, it had accurate reactions and light effort. Unfortunately, the Infiniti's soft brake pedal operates inconsistently. This leads to more than one shoddy stop in rush-hour traffic where the QX50's nose dives forward under heavy braking." -- Car and Driver
  • "A switch to an all-electric steering setup has produced steering feel that is lighter but number compared to a more traditional hydraulic system." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Matched with a softly sprung suspension, the driving experience is more of a wafting experience. In cornering, you can feel its mass shifting awkwardly as it exhibits an overall reluctance to hustle. Where the chassis shines is in its ability to absorb surface irregularities, cushioning occupants from even the slightest on-road protuberances. It's quieter than a cocoon too, a combo that's sure to put any little ones to sleep, if not the driver." -- Autoblog (2019)
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2020 Infiniti QX50

MSRP: $37,250 - $55,850

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