Sunday Drive: 2023 Infiniti QX50 proves its worth come snow or shine
Four years ago, the Infiniti QX50 underwent a complete redesign through which the small SUV was revamped and updated. At that time, a new 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine dubbed a VC-Turbo was introduced. It was the world’s first production-ready variable compression ratio engine and one of the most advanced internal combustion engines ever created.
After our second week with the QX50, we were complete believers in the new engine set, as the Infiniti would really get up and go no matter what the situation required of us. We have not always been big fans of the variable-speed transmission that came with this setup; however, the engineers at Infiniti have negated nearly all the aspects of it that we disliked.
This version slipped easily through the virtual gears, and using the included paddle shifters made the experience even better. The result of all this great technology is that a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine now has the torque and efficiency of an advanced four-cylinder diesel engine. Over the course of a week with the QX, we found it had a huge amount of power and torque; it allowed us to achieve 28 mpg combined, better than the EPA estimate.
The QX50 is equipped with various driving dynamic modes that are selectable from the center console. With new engine mounts and insulation in the firewall along with a Bose noise-canceling sound system, the ride was probably the quietest we have had at this price point.
This being the year of snow and more snow here in Utah, we had ample opportunities to test the QX50 in snowy conditions. In fact, on the Monday of our test ride, more than 6 inches had been laid down in our neighborhood in Springville. The fresh powder covering the roadways early that morning was no match for the all-wheel drive of the Infiniti as it sliced through it without hesitation.
Over the years, we have always found it better to have a 4WD-equipped vehicle here in Utah as the weather can change on a moment’s notice. This occurred during a drive we took up to Heber City on a Saturday afternoon during our test drive.
The clouds closed in as we passed Deer Creek Reservoir and heavy snow started up as we entered Heber City. We were faced with a choice of how to return to Springville: We could go back through Provo Canyon or continue north on U.S. 189 and then take Interstate 80 and descend through Parleys Canyon into Salt Lake City.
We choose the latter and continued north toward I-80. We encountered slushy roads, near white-out conditions and lots of water along the way. The QX50 was up to all of it, never once indicating that it may slide or give us trouble throughout the afternoon. We were very impressed with the abilities of this small “Ute” to handle some serious Utah weather conditions.
With the redesign of the QX50, the designers and engineers have taken the infotainment system to a whole new level by adding an additional 7-inch touch screen below the existing 8-inch touch screen on the center console.
As other manufacturers have gone to longer and wider screens, Infiniti has added a second one to give the user more options. We really liked having two screens to work with so we could keep one dedicated to one of our phones through wireless Apple CarPlay and use the other for the radio, climate control and other important vehicle functions.
We found all of this easier to manage with the two screens — at least for us age-advanced drivers — because only the one we were dealing with would change. On larger single screens, one wrong touch results in the whole screen changing to a new function. With two screens, if we were using navigation on one screen, we could use the other one for options such as climate or sound system control and still have our navigation information visible.
Everywhere we looked, we fell in love with the new additions to the QX50. All of them were for the best, in our opinion. There was luxury aplenty with leather-appointed seats straight from the Nissan engineers that have become some of our favorites in the industry. Their NASA-inspired comfort makes it easy to spend any amount of time in them.
In the center cluster, the driver display is a new LED screen that shows driving information and can also be used as a digital speedometer. As a highlight, it will also display all the wizardry happening with the new engine.
With the new design, the interior is now large enough to provide plenty of room for five adults. The wheels have been pushed as far to the corners as possible, quite a feat for an SUV of this size. There is also room for three full-sized golf bags in the rear with the seat up, unlike our experience years ago when we drove an Infiniti coupe that had instructions on the trunk for how to fit two golf bags in the small space.
Keeping all those inside entertained was an outstanding Bose premium surround sound system. It even impressed us older folks with the high-quality sound environment it produced.
The new Infiniti QX50 is an awesome way to get into a luxury-level SUV that has all the bells and whistles one could want. Even more importantly, it is very fun to drive. As empty nesters, we place it firmly on our list of great everyday drivers.
Base price: $50,500
Destination charge: $1.195
Price as driven: $52,815