2016 Infiniti QX50 AWD Review

An Old Dog Learns New Tricks

Growth spurts don’t usually occur late in life.

Most humans stop growing in their late teenage years if not earlier. But automobiles are not living things (yet, until they receive artificial intelligence and make us their slaves). For now, vehicles can grow in length whenever their engineers decide to hack and slash the bodies apart and graft in a little extra sheet metal. This can even happen at the end of a vehicle’s life cycle, as is the case with the 2016 Infiniti QX50.

In fairness, the QX50’s extra length hasn’t come because Infiniti decided that after eight years on the market, now was the time to extend the compact crossover’s length. The 2016 QX50 gains its extra length courtesy of China. As has been the case with several Infiniti models, demand existed in China for an extended length QX50 and last year the QX50L was introduced.

Instead of adding the QX50L model to the North American vehicle portfolio like the brand did with the Q70L, Infiniti decided the elongated QX50L was actually a better suited, more right-sized product for our shores and has replaced all QX50s with the new lengthened crossover.


Added Size without Penalties

The amount of length added to the QX50 totals up to 3.2-inches in the wheelbase and 4.5-inches bumper to bumper. This leads to an overall length of 186.8-inches which makes the QX50 longer than the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Lexus NX. The QX50 has also gained nearly an inch of ground clearance and the extra height is obvious in a side-by-side comparison with the 2015 model.

Inside Infiniti has added 8.3 cubic feet of total passenger space, most of which is given to rear seat occupants. Infiniti claims the QX50 has increased 4.3-inches in terms of rear legroom, but the official rating of 35.3-inches is actually 6.8-inches greater than the 2015 model’s laughable 28.5-inches of rear legroom.

Regardless what the actual number is, with 37.7-inches of rear headroom, the extra space in the back of the QX50 makes it a usable space unlike the previous model. Adults now fit in the back seats as do rear-facing child seats. It’s still not exactly spacious back there, but at least it’s livable.


More Than Just a Growth Spurt

Along with the increased length, the 2016 QX50 receives subtle changes to the front fascia including new LED daytime running lights and LED fog lights. The side sills are also revised along with the rear fascia and upgraded models wear newly designed 19-inch wheels.

SEE ALSO: Infiniti QX50 Review

Things that aren’t changed include rear cargo capacity that’s still listed at 18.6 cubic feet. And surprisingly, despite the added length, overall curb weight for all-wheel drive models only increased a few pounds, now listed at 4,020 lbs.


Old School Power

As has been the case since the EX35 first appeared on the scene, power comes from a V6 engine, measuring 3.7-liters in this case that makes 325 hp and 267 lb-ft. of torque. Paired to an adequately performing seven-speed automatic, the engine produces a pleasant sound in a way that only a large displacement V6 can. Power is immediate and smooth, something a lot of the QX50’s turbocharged competition cannot match.

But that smooth, large displacement power comes at a cost – fuel economy. Officially, the QX50 AWD is rated at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. That’s a far cry from most of the QX50’s less powerful turbocharged competition and during my time with the vehicle I could only muster an observed average of 18.8 mpg. Worst still is the fact the QX50 requires premium fuel.


Handles Better than a Crossover

Even with added length and increased ground clearance, the QX50 is still essentially a raised up hatchback version of the Q40 (G37). This leads to steering, handling and general vehicle responses that are better than most small crossovers. The QX50 can still be had with rear-wheel drive or torque vectoring all-wheel drive, the latter of which receives a tighter steering ratio.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Infiniti QX50 Video, First Look

Upgraded models like my test vehicle come equipped with 245/45R19 tires that offer decent grip and average ride comfort. When it comes to noise, harshness and vibration, the aging QX50 trails the competition with refinement levels that are noticeably a step behind.


Old School Interior

Another aspect that hasn’t changed much with the 2016 Infiniti QX50 is the interior. The materials are nice and fitting for the segment, but everything is just so dated. Even if it does contain a somewhat modern touchscreen, there are still hard buttons everywhere and I’m fairly certain some of the switch gear dates back to when Afro man was popular.

But for every complaint that the interior is old and out of date, there’s someone who’ll find it refreshingly simple to use. No trips to the genius bar are required to learn how to change a radio station and a few of my passengers found the overall interior exudes luxury, despite its age.

Now standard in the QX50 for 2016 are items like a power moonroof and heated front seats. Just be careful though, those heated seats are intense, cycling through four levels of ferocity that start around incinerator and work up to surface of the sun.

The 2016 QX50 AWD begins at a price of $36,845 after destination charges, but loaded up with the premium, premium plus, technology and deluxe packages, the total bill came to $44,495 as tested. These packages add high-end features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure prevention and power folding second row seats. It also includes features that should really be standard, not optional, like Bluetooth audio streaming and voice recognition. Oddly, at no price point is a power lift gate available.


The Verdict: 2016 Infiniti QX50 AWD Review

The current generation QX50’s days are numbered and it won’t be long until an all-new model arrives. With the added length of the 2016 model, the QX50 has been given some new life. If an easy to use, naturally aspirated compact luxury crossover is a must, the QX50 will do just fine. Otherwise, it’s probably wise to wait for a new model or look at some of the competition’s offerings.

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