I have fallen in and out of love with Infiniti over the years. They are certainly not known for spearheading new ideas or leading the industry in proper modern transportation. But the QX55 does go beyond what the rest of the lineup showcases, especially with its striking and beautiful design. But before I judge a book by its cover, I have to dive beneath the surface to see what awaits underneath. Let me introduce to you the QX55, what Infiniti has improved, and what is still stuck in the past.
Out of Spec Score: 75/100
Let’s not beat around the bush; this is the highlight of the QX55. It looks fantastic. This slate gray is a great color choice, appearing to be their take on a “nardo gray” with some blue undertones. The Infiniti design ethos has invoked curves linked by creases for the past decade, and this has taken a progressive step towards more of the creases and aggressive lines. The standard 20” wheels look decent as far as OEM style goes, with machined chrome accents to match the chrome on the grill and window surrounds.
The grill itself features a large badge, which I’m not necessarily a fan of, but they did contain the radar within which keeps the rest fairly clean. The hood actually overlaps connecting panels, an interesting way to hide any panel gaps and I do like its execution. Just below the hood on the sides are interesting vent-like accents, though they are entirely fake.
Around back, the sport-back sloping roof is the most obvious yet subtle feature, making it appear sleek and sporty, with a decent-sized spoiler above the rear glass. The taillights are great, especially when the cloudy LEDs are lit. Then the front is donned with Infiniti-style LED running lights complimenting the look as a whole and providing that distinct front Infiniti fascia. Taking photos of this with a cloudy sky resulted in one of the most stunning views I’ve seen in a compact family-hauler. 9 out of 10 for style.
This is another solid score for the QX55, and I can see the improvements Infiniti has been making. However, there are still a few disappointments therein. The fit and finish is well-done, and I really enjoyed the Monaco Red contrasting color on the seats, also present in center console leading up to the dashboard. The display orientation is still a bit polarizing, having separate displays, one above the other. This time with an Infiniti, I did grow a bit more into appreciation of the two displays, having Apple CarPlay constantly available even while adjusting settings. But the layout of climate control on either side is not ideal from a user interface perspective.
The rear seats are quite decent, and there is a 3rd climate zone, but USB ports were lacking for rear passengers and it felt just a bit constrained, most likely due to the sport-back style of the roof. You also won’t find the moonroof to extend above the rear, which was disappointing for a “luxury” CUV. But overall, a solid 7.5 out of 10.
Somewhat of an oxymoron, the turbo and the CVT just don’t mesh as well as they had hoped. The QX55 features a 2.0 4-cylinder engine with a turbo, which left at that seems enticing albeit maybe a bit underpowered. But then they went and mated it to a CVT. Don’t mistake this for blind CVT criticism, as they do have their place in the industry. But for performance, it’s simply not there. The QX55 is stunning, and looks aggressive and sporty. But the power train, from the variable compression 2.0L down to the CVT, just does not coordinate with the looks.
You’ll be met with 268hp, and 280 lb-ft of torque, which aren’t shabby but do leave a bit to be desired. The variable compression badging on the engine itself is interesting, as it denotes the capability to adjust compression, between 8:1 and 14:1, to have slight improvements on fuel economy. That’s also what I would presume to be their reason for using a CVT. But those together still only grant it modest mid-20s EPA estimate fuel economy. I would have hoped for more.
You also won’t find anything fancy like adaptive suspension, but it did feel relatively planted in the corners of the canyons. Ignoring the sounds of the CVT and fake engine noise pumped into the cabin, it is fairly engaging with sport mode and the adaptive steering feels more direct and enticing with increased aggression. It has its moments, but overall does not match the looks and leaves me wishing for more, or different. 6.5 out of 10 in the performance aspect.
Let me start with the negative in this regard: fuel economy. Objectively, the 20s it advertises are not entirely bad, especially for a 5 seat CUV, but the compromises they took as typical fuel-saving measures lead to my disappointment. The CVT transmission and VC engine discussed above would hopefully have granted it at least 30 on the highway, maybe more. But with the lower economy, I almost wish they had just given a proper automatic transmission and even more power from perhaps a couple extra cylinders. Those with fuel economy and practicality of that aspect at the forefront of their mind will be disappointed.
On the other hand, the aspect of physical practicality is somewhat a saving grace. The storage capacity is with 27 cubic feet behind the second row and doubled when it’s folded down. Those are excellent numbers given the styling and design of the car, as I would have expected the aggressive sloped roof to have compromised storage a bit more than that. There is a good amount of interior storage as well, and I feel confident in my 8 out of 10 scoring of practicality.
Another decent score, in part assisted by some added features we’ve been waiting for in Infiniti. The front now has ventilated seats, a welcome addition in the heat of the summer during which I had the QX55. There are no heated rear seats yet, so that is one missing factor, but the addition of the 3rd zone in climate control does help a bit in rear comfort. In general, all 5 seats are comfortable, especially driver and passenger. They are both power-adjustable and I felt no discomfort after a few hours of constant use. To add to the comfortable environment, active noise cancellation is a feature they boast, though I couldn’t pinpoint its effectiveness. Regardless, it is a quite comfortable ride, with 8 out of 10 for all around comfort.
For a “next-generation” vehicle from Infiniti, I was relatively let down. The car itself appears so impressively forward-thinking and stunning to look at, but the user interface and design of the infotainment and separate displays leaves a lot to be desired. Technically, it does provide most of what anyone could need, and I was very happy to find Wireless Apple CarPlay as standard. So it technically improved over the other previous models, but the graphics of the interface still appear dated and it’s not the most intuitive or efficient interface.
On one hand, I liked having CarPlay available at all times, even while adjusting settings on the other screen. But there’s also an argument to be made of confusion in operating the two screens in tandem, especially with built-in navigation. I would have preferred a single, long portrait screen. You also won’t find a fully digital gauge cluster, though I suppose three screens could be a tipping point into chaos. The 16 speaker Bose system was fine, but not great as far as premium stereo goes. And I could never quite dial it in to my sense of perfection. 7 out of 10 for technology.
Connected Services 8/10
The connected services are fairly well-featured, and I love seeing Wireless CarPlay as standard across all trims. Infiniti InTouch is also a feature, allowing for app control and monitoring of the car and remote lock/unlock and start/stop of the engine. Navigation is an option not seen on lower trims, but I think most people should use their phone apps for a better and more reliable experience. 8 out of 10 in connected services.
Active Safety 7/10
You’ll find all the usual components of safety, though not all standard on the base Luxe trim. However, the full suite gives predictive forward collision warning, emergency braking, lane departure warning and prevention, and even rear automatic braking. The ProPILOT Assist adaptive cruise was fairly effective, though it tended to keep me much closer to the center line than I would like. I ended up keeping the lane departure features off, as they didn’t make me feel very safe, and it produces a horrid chime every time it finds and loses the lanes. Otherwise, everything seemed to work as expected, and it still feels fairly safe compared to sedans given the added ride height. 7 out of 10 in safety.
These types of cars are hard to evaluate, because value has to be assessed as a whole. You do get incredible styling, and to some people, this is the best looking CUV on the market. Coming in at $60,000 as tested, that’s not entirely outrageous amidst other luxury CUVs. I should also note that a lower trim would get you the same styling, wheels, and Wireless CarPlay for under $50,000 which truly is a bargain. But there are other options in this segment with just a few more bells and whistles, better sound, but worse looks. It’s truly a balancing act, and car shopping in this day and age is harder than ever. Given my particular specimen, I’d have to evaluate it at a 7 out of 10.
Editors Influence 7/10
This is perhaps the only time in the recent memory that I’ve given an Infiniti a net positive review for my influence. I genuinely like the QX55. The styling is a great highlight, seeing Infiniti finally bring modernity to their lineup. And I for one give a lot of weight in the visual aesthetics department. But there were still many things I would have liked to see improved or replaced. The power train is not sublime, user interface is a relic of years past, and certain things like heated rear seats and full-length moon roof would have really added to the premium feel.
But all in all, it’s a step in the right direction, and I look forward to improvements in the rest of Infiniti’s lineup. Seeing certain specimens they deliver overseas reassures me that they have the capability, and time will tell if they deliver. Most people will genuinely like this car, but I wonder how many will love it. 7 out of 10 for the congruency with my own personal taste.