Infiniti QX55 test drive: when style is everything

Do you want to get family convenience, everyday practicality, and dynamic style in one car? Then maybe you should consider a coupe-like crossover. On the one hand, there is a spacious interior and a large trunk, all-wheel drive to overcome any winter roads and light off-road conditions. On the other hand, there’s a dynamic and attractive design that can be backed up by a fairly powerful engine. And what will we get? Is it really something similar to the Infiniti QX55? And in general, what will we get (or not get) from this car?

Design: the exterior is an ace, but the interior…

The Infiniti QX55 squeezes everything out of the coupe-cross format. A spectacular roof arch, a short protrusion on the trunk lid, a large hood with noticeable curves, narrow “predatory” headlights – it looks very impressive!

And pay attention to the details. For example, the black and silver 20-inch wheels are exclusive to the Infiniti QX55, and they are available on all model trims. The lights on the trunk lid resemble keys and consist of 45 individual diodes. The radiator grille is supported by a black glossy insert at the bottom. There is a lot to like about the design.

In my opinion, one of the main advantages of the Infiniti QX55 is its design: the car looks dynamic and trim, as expected from a coupe-like crossover. The dimensions are just within the D-SUV Premium: length – 4.73 meters; width – 1.9 meters; height – 1.62 meters; wheelbase – 2.8 meters. Mention of a “crossover” or SUV is quite appropriate due to the 219-mm ground clearance and mandatory all-wheel drive for all versions. As well as 20-inch wheels. In general, pay attention to the details: headlights and lights, chrome inserts and glossy black decor. It looks great!

At first glance, the interior is also beautiful. The dashboard seems to envelop the driver, the seats are soft leather, and the large displays are combined with numerous physical buttons and switches. They don’t do that anymore! This phrase also describes, for example, the absence of a fully digital instrument panel. Yes, yes, someone has already missed the usual arrows and the Infiniti QX55 itself offers a great projection on the windshield; but the class and competitors demand compliance with the modern realities of the times.

You are reminded of the realities of the times with every new look at the upper display: not very high resolution, confusing controls – partly because of the touchscreen itself, partly because of a separate unit on the center console. And all this is in comparison to the excellent lower screen: high-quality images, well-drawn menus, a logical combination of touch controls and buttons side by side.

But the Infiniti QX55 crossover knows exactly how to “criticize” the remarks: the space behind! It seems that there is a low roof. However, there is an additional stamped bend in the ceiling above the passengers’ heads. So there is enough space for people of average height. And there is a certain amount of legroom – in the range of 370-801 mm, and this distance can be adjusted thanks to the sliding sofa. There is also the ability to set the backrest angle and a separate climate zone for rear passengers. Finally, add a 555-liter trunk with a power liftgate and a large lower tray. The Infiniti QX55 crossover is a great example of how you can emphasize style without forgetting practicality!

The front panel successfully combines a curved shape, metallized decor, contrasting light and dark gray leather. The main comment on the interior of the Infiniti QX55 is the strange, incomprehensible, inconvenient logic of controlling displays and, accordingly, additional functions. The main advantage is a good amount of space and additional amenities for rear passengers. The large trunk also hints at the car’s practicality.

Technology: miracle engine VC-Turbo

At first glance, the Infiniti QX55 has a fairly traditional design. The body is load-bearing, the engine is transversely mounted, the suspensions are fully independent, and all-wheel drive is realized through a friction clutch. There is no air suspension, large 6-cylinder engines, or hybrid options. Although there are a couple of interesting nuances in the design. Firstly, it is an adaptive electronic control system – that is, “steering by wire”; although for the first time such a mechanism appeared on the Infiniti Q50. Secondly, a CVT variator was used as an automatic transmission; although, given the car’s class and engine power, we would have liked to see a hydromechanical automatic transmission or a robotic box with a double clutch. However, all these are just “nuances”.

Because the most interesting detail in the design of the Infiniti QX55 (and the related Infiniti QX50 crossover, which we will mention later) is a 2-liter gasoline turbo engine with a variable compression ratio! There have been similar experimental developments where the compression ratio was achieved by shifting the cylinder head, but in the case of the VC-Turbo engine, the compression ratio is changed by a lever mechanism that changes the position of the crankshaft rocker arm, to which the connecting rod is already attached. This allows the compression ratio (8:1 to 14:1) and displacement (1970-1997 cc) to be varied.

The main feature of the Infiniti QX55 is the VC-Turbo engine (short for Variable Combustion Turbo) with the KR20DDET code: compression ratio change, combined DIG+MPI fuel injection, turbine. The figures are not bad, although not record-breaking: the declared power is 249 hp (at 5,600 rpm); torque 380 Nm (4,400 rpm); acceleration 0-100 km/h in 7.5 seconds; top speed should reach 220 km/h; fuel consumption is promised at 10.7 liters (in the city) and 7.6 liters (on the highway). Engine performance can be monitored on the dashboard display.

Behind the wheel: good comfort, but where’s the sport?

Despite its dynamic, sporty design, the Infiniti QX55 is actually quite comfortable to drive. The suspension is able to absorb even bumps well, swaying the body as if on waves. The crossover is not afraid of a series of pits that are passed without painful bumps. If we had installed smaller wheels and taller tires, we could have gotten rid of those minor comments that sometimes arise when crossing transverse ledges or deep pits with sharp edges. Plus, it’s worth noting the sound comfort: quiet in terms of aerodynamics and suspension operation, and a quiet engine when driving at a normal daily pace.

By the way, in such cases, the engine is “quiet” not only in sound but also in character. In fact, up to 2,500-3,000 rpm, it’s hard to believe in its declared power and traction, the engine tries to operate in an economical, quiet mode. Moreover, the CVT variator is constantly juggling with gear ratios, changing speed and revs as if stretching rubber. The result is only a moderate hum and smooth speed changes.

Do you want more? Then press the accelerator pedal harder! In such cases, the engine gains 2.5-3 thousand revolutions and above – and it turns out that it has good power. The turbo engine pleasantly “comes to life” at medium speeds (3-4 thousand) and then confidently revs up to 5-5.5 thousand, finally giving the car good dynamics. The variator is also trained to imitate gear shifting at about 5,500-6,000, at maximum power, which improves the feeling of acceleration.

We shouldn’t forget about the sport mode. Firstly, in this mode, the engine and variator are tuned to stay near the active zone more often – revs of about 2,500-3,000 and above. Secondly, the all-wheel drive performance improves: there seems to be no pause in the connection of the rear wheels and the redistribution of torque – and this is well felt on slippery winter roads: you can at least try to control traction and wear in the turns. By the way, despite all the mode switching and steering wheel settings, in reality, the handling always remains neutral: medium steering sharpness, medium background force. Thankfully, the rolls are small.

In fact, in normal or eco mode, the rear wheels also engage quite quickly, with a split-second pause. But this pause is there – and it adds to the tendency to typical front-wheel drive wear on a slippery curve: until you press the gas, until you pause the engine and variator, until you wait for the all-wheel drive to connect… All this time and delayed reactions. Especially in eco mode, which seems to cut off half of the engine’s power. As for me, this eco-mode is unnecessary. The Infiniti QX55 with its appearance should always be driven in sport mode: it is not so much a “sport” as it is just at least a match for the given dynamic style and design. And for “every day” and for economical driving, the standard mode is enough. So it turns out that only two of the four available modes will actually be used.

Good engine traction at midrange, good suspension comfort, and the usual clear handling. Plus, there are several driving modes and even a system for individual steering wheel adjustment. But the thought constantly haunts me: why did they do so much in terms of technology, and we got so little in terms of output? For example, acceleration from 0-100 km/h takes about 7.3 seconds: this is not bad and even faster than the passport promised. And the fuel consumption figures are not impressive: around the city it is consistently about 11 liters, plus or minus a liter depending on the load of roads and driving style; on the highway at a speed of 100 km/h – about 7.5 liters. In general, the figures are roughly in line with the passport, or even slightly better. However, German competitors with similar 250-horsepower 2-liter turbo engines gain about a second in acceleration to 60 and show similar fuel consumption – all without a compression ratio system, but with structurally different gearboxes.

A few of my own thoughts. I really want to add a variant similar to the Nissan X-Trail e-POWER to the Infiniti QX55 range: even if it has less power, the smooth hybrid will better match the comfortable suspension and will save fuel – you can even take a version with front-wheel drive. This would make a great “every day” option without any hints or expectations of dynamics or sportiness. At the same time, the 2-liter gasoline engine should be offered in the 272 version (and such variants exist), preferably with a different gearbox and stiffer suspension. We’ll get a variant with the codename Infiniti QX55S. But these are just dreams. Let’s see what versions are actually offered – and for what price.

Cost: how much does the Infiniti QX55 cost and what is the surcharge compared to the Infiniti QX50

The price history begins with the Infiniti QX55 Luxe version, which costs UAH 1.87-2.36 million or $48-60 thousand, depending on the year of manufacture and the presence/absence of promotional offers. The equipment is immediately good: 2-liter gasoline turbo engine, all-wheel drive and automatic transmission, eco-leather interior trim, separate 2-zone climate control, keyless entry and engine start, six-speaker audio, two displays on the center console (7- and 8-inch), Infiniti InTouch system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, rearview camera, cruise control, eight airbags, 20-inch alloy wheels, etc.

The next step is the Infiniti QX55 Essential, which is offered at a price of UAH 2.06-2.47 million or $5363 thousand, depending on the year of manufacture and the presence/absence of promotional offers. The technology is unchanged, but the equipment is additionally expanded: leather seat trim, surround view system, heated steering wheel, BOSE audio with 16 speakers, separate 3-zone climate control (separate for the rear of the cabin), memory of seat/steering wheel/mirror settings.

Finally, two option packages are also available for the Infiniti QX55 Essential – ProAssist and ProActive. Accordingly, the price of Infiniti QX55 Essential ProAssist or Infiniti QX55 Essential ProActive is UAH 2.15-2.57 million or $55-66 thousand, depending on the year of manufacture and the presence/absence of promotional offers. In the case of the ProAssist package, this includes: a windshield information projection system, lens warning in the blind spots of mirrors, intelligent (adaptive) cruise control, lane departure warning system, forward and reverse collision warning systems, intelligent high beam switching, etc. In the case of the ProActive package, the following is added: lane departure warning system, collision avoidance system for objects in the blind spot of the mirrors, adaptive electronic steering system.

In talking about the Infiniti QX55, it is impossible to ignore the Infiniti QX50, the classic crossover that served as the basis for our hero of this review: a common platform, a similar gasoline engine, a variator and all-wheel drive, and an almost identical interior. It is clear that the Infiniti QX50 has a more traditional body design in the rear. In addition, there are differences in the shape of the front bumper, different wheels are used, and the usual elongated roof allowed the installation of a panoramic sunroof. Also available for the Infiniti QX50 are ventilated front seats, rear window blinds, suede interior trim, and more. And in general, the list of available configurations is wider. The difference between the two cars in approximately the same configuration is 270-290 thousand UAH: the Infiniti QX50 crossover is cheaper.

Infiniti QX55 test drive results

The Infiniti QX55 has many original details and strong contrasts. This makes it interesting, although it doesn’t make it coherent. For such a dynamic appearance, it lacks more power to create a true “crossover coupe with a sporty character”. For good suspension comfort, there is not enough of a more economical version to create a “car for every day”. For a high-quality and spacious interior, it lacks more convenient control of additional functions and a sense of modernity.

At the same time, the Infiniti QX55 still has a lot of advantages: good equipment and mandatory all-wheel drive, the aforementioned suspension comfort, and a fairly spacious interior. But the most important advantage of the Infiniti QX55 crossover, in my opinion, is its good looks and “timeless design”. The case when “we choose with our eyes first”.

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The car was provided by INFINITI Ukraine

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