2022 Infiniti QX55 Review: First Drive

The problem with name-dropping your inspiration is you immediately stack the deck against yourself.

If the people like product X, the logic goes, then some of that goodwill should transfer to product Y. That seems to be Infiniti’s game plan during the digital pre-drive 2022 QX55 presentation, where the original FX SUV figures prominently. The FX started the coupe-over segment according to Infiniti, which is technically correct (the best kind of correct). It was a style tour de force for crossovers, and an athletic one to boot. Infiniti is clearly hoping that magic has transferred to the QX55.

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Some of it has. The QX55 accomplishes the aesthetic challenge thrown down by the old “Bionic Cheetah.” It’s not simply good-looking; it just might be the most attractive car in its class. The QX55 can’t match its inspiration’s dynamic qualities however, and in doing so, it makes us more nostalgic for what was, than excited for what is.

An attractive wrapper

The QX55 certainly makes a strong first impression. Simply put, it’s pretty—not something I’d say about many coupe-overs. The subdued Slate Grey paint reminds me of the quarry lake we’d swim in every summer as kids. Infiniti’s current design language translates well to the shape, with clean, flowing lines all around. The “floating” grille visually separates it from its more upright QX50 cousin—with which it shares a platform—and the tapered rear avoids the big-butt look so many other crossover-coupes are plagued with.

I’m a big fan of the “piano key” taillight treatment; each unit uses 45 LEDs to give the QX55 a unique night-time lighting profile. Rounding out the look are standard 20-inch wheels, giving this rig the proper proportions. (Let’s face it, nobody’s taking something like this off-road.)

Pretty inside too, with one exception

The QX55 shares more than just its platform with the QX50. Stepping inside, the interior is essentially identical, though this one does get a striking Monaco Red and Graphite two-tone leather treatment. The diagonal split along the center console does a good job making the front row feel driver-focused. Strips of open-pore wood and restrained use of shiny trim elevate the cabin ambience, too. It’s a pleasant place to spend the day, with everything feeling good to the touch. At least until you get to the infotainment.

Infiniti’s InTouch two-screen system is the automotive infotainment embodiment of “more isn’t always better.” An 8.0-inch screen sits up top, combining low brightness and slow response times for a dated experience. The smaller 7.0-inch screen below it is more modern, but its menus are arcane, and look different from the one above. Redundant physical buttons along the sides are good, but they don’t match the ones just below the screen.  On the plus side, Apple CarPlay is wireless—Android users still need a cord. Using either is preferable to the built-in system. Even with an iPhone, you’ll want to bring a cord though: there’s no wireless charger in here.

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The rest of the interior experience measures up to class expectations. There’s no real change in front-row passenger space, and rear legroom is the same as the QX50—making the QX55 the class leader. The four outboard seats are all comfortable, and the rear row can slide and recline, so passengers shouldn’t feel short-changed there. Rear headroom measures 36.9 inches (938 mm), or about an inch and a half less than the QX50 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe. I’m just avoiding contact with the headliner at 5’10”, for reference.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Review: Aufrecht Melcher Goldilocks

Swoopy styling doesn’t eat into the QX55’s load-hauling abilities either. With all the rear row upright and all the way back, we’re talking 26.9 cubic feet (762 L) of storage space. Put another way, nearly 50 percent more room than the GLC or BMW X4. Fold the seats flat and the space expands to 54.1 cubes (1,532 L). 

Sporty shape hides comfort-focused ride

Ostensibly, Infiniti’s frequent invoking of the FX during the QX55 presentation is meant to suggest the latter is a sporty drive. I’m here to tell you it isn’t—and also, that that doesn’t really hurt it. Mostly.

The original “Bionic Cheetah” FX shared a lot of its genetic makeup with the rear-drive Z and G35 models of the time. It was, by all contemporary measures, an engaging drive. The QX55 uses a front-biased all-wheel drive system, which sends up to 50 percent of the power to the rear when it detects slip, but otherwise operates in front-drive mode. It is what it is; the tougher hurdle to overcome is the continued use of a CVT as the only available transmission. Throttle response is good, but the buzzy nature is unbecoming of a luxury model. Nissan has tuned the CVT to emulate downshifts too—especially prevalent in Sport mode—but it’s more awkward than anything, the engine just hanging at 3,500 rpm or so for a few seconds at a time.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Infiniti QX60 Review: First Impressions

In fact, the CVT does a lot of work to mask what is a very strong engine. Infiniti’s clever VC-Turbo engine can vary its compression on the fly, going from a sky-high 14:1 ratio for better efficiency to an 8:1 ratio for more torque. Outputs are 268 hp and 280 lb-ft: more than any of zee Germans, but the QX55 never feels quicker than any of ’em. A new nine-speed automatic is in-bound with the upcoming QX60—I can’t help wonder how it could improve the QX55.

This top-trim Sensory model features Direct Adaptive Steering, a steer-by-wire system that trades feedback for low effort. The steering resistance can be inconsistent, making it tough to judge just how much lock one needs to apply. Sport mode ups the weighting a bit, but it remains artificial-feeling. Better to dial things back instead, where the QX55 becomes a quiet, comfortable cruiser, with a well-damped ride even on those big wheels. Not everything in this class needs to be sporty, and the QX55 does a much better job prioritizing comfort.

The EPA says the QX55 should average 25 mpg, split between 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. (Canadian figures are 9.5, 10.5, and 8.3 L/100 km, respectively). During my day I both drove and shot the QX55, wrapping up a little over 26 mpg (9.0 L/100 km). That’s right in the ballpark of the rest of the coupe-over class.

Verdict: 2022 Infiniti QX55 First Drive Review

The QX55 lineup starts with the Luxe trim, at $47,525 ($54,090 CAD) including destination. Undercutting the German slant-backs by thousands, it still includes those pretty looks, 20-inch wheels, and a whole heap of standard safety features. Automated emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-departure alert are all standard, while the middle Essential trim ($52,625 / $59,093 CAD ) offers available steering assists for blind-spot and lane departure (both standard in Canada), a solid 16-speaker Bose sound system, and built-in navigation. The ProActive package (not available on the Essential in Canada) adds a head-up display, the Direct Adaptive Steering, ProPilot Assist, and traffic sign recognition.

At the top of the pile is our Sensory tester ($58,075 / $63,093 CAD), which includes all the above, plus other goodies like tri-zone climate control, ambient lighting, and more. That’s a lot of kit for a good price.

Those who want a pretty, smooth-riding coupe-crossover with minimal space sacrificed will be well-served with the QX55. This is a style-led segment, after all. Those who want the tech to match however—or the occasional bit of backroad verve—will want to look elsewhere. The FX carved out a niche for itself two decades ago; despite the similar shape, the QX55 is targeting a different corner of the segment.

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