Updated: Jun 20
Infiniti pioneered in the early 2000s the then-new segment of coupe SUVs with the launch of the FX in 2003. They've tried to bring back the passion and excitement in a modern shape with the QX55. We'll take a deeper look in a second; for now, our test vehicle is manufactured at the Aguascalientes, Mexico, plant and has an MSRP of $64,905.
First impressions are essential to make an impact on someone; the design of the Infiniti QX55 is distinctive and sporty. The grille is bold and imposing while not being over the top. It's a fine line that the Japanese automaker has masterfully tiptoed on this vehicle. Although the idea of a coupe-like SUV isn't new, the lines on this one are fresh and modern, especially when you look at it from the sides. It is slightly less stylish in the back but maintains a clean and appropriate look. The Slate Grey colour is also a nice touch; it brings the lines and curves of the vehicle to the forefront. Finally, these 20-inch wheels, which combine accents of black and grey, are the needed touch to cap on this design that, dare we say it, might be the best in its class.
You'll notice the Monaco Red and Graphite leather seats when you step inside the vehicle. They are not all red; they have just enough black accents to distinguish them from other red interiors. The seats are comfortable and heated, and ventilated, which is good. The back seats are primarily red, and they're comfortable too. We found that adults can sit in the back with no problem, although the design of the sloping roof reduces the overhead room. The ISOFIX ports are tucked inside the seats but still visible for a fast and easy installation; the same can is true of the rear anchors. As for trunk space, even though it looks a bit small on the outside, the QX55 is quite roomy. The rear seats are easy to fold with a clever latch on the side of the trunk. In a luxury SUV, it would've been preferable to have an electronic latch rather than the mechanical one at that spot. One other thing, due to the sloping roof, the trunk height is far from optimal. Length-wise, this vehicle can fit some long items easily with the seats folded down in a 60/40 configuration. In other words, this new offering from Infiniti has a few tricks up its sleeves; we like the materials used in the cabin to enhance the premium feel inside.
Back behind the wheel, we didn't expect to see the rather dull gauge cluster. We were astonished that it's the same as on a Nissan Sentra, which is disappointing. Fortunately, the steering wheel is more refined; it feels much more premium in your hands. It isn't awful, quite the contrary at least, but as a premium brand, Infiniti barely made an effort to improve it, which is unacceptable in the segment. And we're not even finished; this was merely the entrée to the mess that is the infotainment situation.
We deal weekly with infotainment systems, and we can say without a doubt that Infiniti InTouch is one of the worst ones. Quickly, this system debuted about nine years ago on the then-new Q50 that uses two screens for all the tasks that can be done promptly with a single one. The top part, an 8-inch screen, is not a touchscreen, thus making to process of using that screen cumbersome and frustrating since you have to use the knob on the right side of the center console. When you're using Apple Carplay or Android Auto, switching between apps is straightforward, but in this case, you are constantly struggling to select the right app for your music, for example. You will have a 7-inch touchscreen on the bottom, but its features are somewhat limited. A row of climate controls flanks this screen. The system is so old; there's still a CD reader, a feature more or less gone on luxury models from other brands. The screen is slow to respond, and both screens work awkwardly together. It's as if they can't stand each other, but they're forced to work together to make this setup make sense. It's clumsy and outdated; Infiniti must ditch this infotainment system as quickly as possible. The only positive aspect was the 16-speaker Bose Performance Series Audio System, which worked great and improved the experience. The technology aspect is already behind, even though the vehicle hasn't been on sale for a year.
Moving on to the driving experience, the Infiniti QX55 isn't as sporty as its looks might indicate. Let's look at the numbers: a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine coupled to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with an overall output of 268hp and 280 lb-ft of torque and a 0-100kph of around 6.5 seconds. These numbers illustrate the problem with the setup; the transmission holds its engine back and limits its potential. On a highway ramp, the engine tries to imitate some resemblance of sportiness but fails spectacularly. Instead, you get a pushy machine looking for a breath of fresh air as soon as you step on the gas pedal a little too hard. Even in Sport mode, the CVT isn't up to the task of delivering any decent shifting; this was one of the most disappointing aspects of the vehicle.
On the bright side, the handling is competitive with other models in the segment. The steering is precise enough, and the vehicle is planted on the road on tight corners. The suspension is well-calibrated and can compensate for the worst roads in your area. It isn't too soft nor too stiff; Infiniti was able to find a good balance. We were surprised that when we tested it, it had less than 10,000km, and there was rattling all over the trunk area, which left us with a sour taste about the build quality and overall quality of the vehicle. A quick word on fuel consumption, the Japanese automaker announces 8.3L/100km on the highway, 10.5 in the city and 9.5 in the combined city & highway driving. We averaged 7.4 on the highway, 13.3 in the city, and 10.3 combined, figures within 1L of the figures announced except in the city, where it was significantly higher. At this moment, there isn't a single hybrid or electric option at Infiniti that also needs to change quickly to try and catch some momentum with the rising gas prices and competition that introduces mild-hybrid models as standard.
In the end, the new Infiniti QX55 overpromises and underdelivers. Its striking look comes with uninspired driving and antique technology onboard. Infiniti, to stay relevant, needs to upgrade these elements to disturb the established order because right now, besides the look, the QX55 isn't competitive. Especially at $64,905, there are many better options than this.
Infiniti has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Infiniti Canada. The above reflects our personal opinion of the car referred above.