Competes with: Acura RDX, Audi Q3, BMW X3, Buick Envision, Cadillac XT5, Lincoln MKC, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, Volvo XC60
Looks like: A slightly shrunken QX60, rear window kink and all
Drivetrain: 268-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 280 pounds-feet of torque; continuously variable automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive; estimated 27 mpg combined with FWD, 26 mpg combined with AWD
Hits dealerships: TBD
The new 2019 Infiniti QX50, debuting ahead of the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, may be arriving in a crowded segment, with mid-size luxury SUVs booming and automakers taking notice. The QX50 isn’t a new model for Infiniti, but it was last sold as a 2017 model before skipping a year — a gap year, if you will. But the QX50 didn’t sit around in the basement bumming it for a year: It debuts an all-new platform for Infiniti, and under the hood is some brand-new technology that has us intrigued.
Related: More 2017 L.A. Auto Show Coverage
The QX50 will be the first vehicle to offer a variable-compression engine (don’t worry, we’ll explain more of what that means later), and Infiniti says that developing the SUV on a new platform allowed the brand to build in more interior cargo and passenger room — two things that can be lacking in some competitors, and the old QX50 for that matter. Here’s what we know about the new QX50 so far, ahead of its official unveiling on Tuesday.
The exterior might be the least exciting part of the QX50. Its styling very much apes the larger QX60 down to the matching rear window kinks that add some needed visual flair to the sides of the SUV. Up front, the two also are pretty much identical, with similar grilles and headlight clusters. The QX50 is a bit more angular, the hood is sculpted more aggressively, and there’s black cladding around the fenders and side skirts.
Our final judgments on the size of the interior will have to wait until we climb into the QX50, but on paper, the changes to the cargo area especially are impressive. The 2017 QX50 only offered 18.6 cubic feet of cargo room behind its rear seats, but the 2019 version expands that to 31.6 cubic feet. Slide the second row forward and that expands to 37 cubic feet; drop the seats and you get 60 cubic feet. In real-world terms, Infiniti says that with the seats up, you’ll be able to fit three golf bags back there. There is also a favorite feature of mine in the cargo area: underfloor storage to hide valuables from prying eyes.
Under the Hood
Now we get to the exciting part. The QX50 will debut brand-new engine technology in the form of variable-compression tech. At the bottom of each piston is a control shaft, which can change how high up in the cylinder the piston goes. The higher the piston goes, the more compression you have in the cylinder, so by changing the angle of the control shaft, the engine can switch between higher compression (14:1), which is better for efficiency, and lower compression (8:1) for more power. Check out this video for a visual explanation:
The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder makes 268 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque. It’s mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission, and the QX50 will offer both front- and all-wheel drive. Infiniti announced some expected fuel-economy figures, too: 27 mpg combined for front-wheel drive and 26 mpg combined for all-wheel drive.
Infiniti is also introducing new ProPilot Assist technology, which supports single-lane highway driving. The system helps the driver control acceleration, braking and steering while driving on the highway, but it doesn’t drive for you — Infiniti clearly states that the technology is a step removed from autonomous driving. I’m not sure what this means; we’ll have to get the QX50 on the road to see how it shakes out.
Pricing and delivery estimate were not yet available from Infiniti.