When it arrived 3 years ago, the QX50 small SUV was supposed to be the centerpiece of an Infiniti revival. Instead, sales have been extremely disappointing and now parent company Nissan is planning on steering the brand away from its luxury aspirations and more towards, what their COO has described, as a Nissan-plus brand.
That brings us to the just revealed 2022 QX55 – a coupe-styled derivative of the QX50.
Despite the age of their 6 vehicle lineup you’ve got to give Infiniti props for keeping the designs fresh.
And that is indeed the most compelling part of this new QX55 – the styling. The Germans started this trend of offering their SUVs in both traditional and coupe-like body styles and now Infiniti is trying it here.
The formula creates a longer, lower body for aesthetic appeal in exchange for some rear headroom and luggage volume…and always at a price premium; a tradeoff that trendsetters are thrilled to take. The QX55 is offered in 3 trim levels starting at $47,525; about 3 grand more than a comparable QX50. But unlike its less fashionable sibling, every QX55 comes standard with all-wheel drive and 20” wheels.
This top-of-the-line Sensory trim with higher quality leather, a foot-activated liftgate, ProPILOT ASSIST driver assistance tech, head-up display and fancier LED headlights starts at about $58,000 and comes in here at $60,830 with a smattering of options.
Exceptionally comfortable front seats, eye-catching Monaco Red interior, and Nissan’s innovative variable compression turbocharged engine round out the highlights.
Without going too far into the weeds, an engine’s compression ratio measures the volume of air/fuel mixture the cylinder can hold between the piston’s lowest and highest points. The higher the ratio the greater the efficiency while a lower ratio delivers more power. And after 2 decades of development Nissan created this VC Turbo to vary the compression ratio from 8:1 to 14: 1 ostensibly eliminating the barter between mpg and torque. So this incredibly complex 2.0-liter engine is rated at 268 horsepower and 280 pound feet of torque while returning 25mpg on premium gas.
And in fact it’s more powerful and fuel efficient than the 2.0-liter turbos in the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC. The Germans are both faster though and the QX55’s fuel economy advantage is only 1mpg and that likely has more to do with the fact that this one uses a CVT while the other 2 use 8- and 9-speed transmissions. It makes you wonder if the effort was worth it.
Does the QX55 remind me of driving the old FX? No. Not in the least. And that’s a shame because the rear wheel drive V8 powered FX was freaking awesome. But of course those days are gone and I understand that it’s just that the QX55 doesn’t really move me in the way the exciting designalludes to.
The body looks great – it’s really a head turner and the VC turbo is a curious, satisfying engine but this just doesn’t move the needle for me like I was hoping it would. Competent and comfortable; yes? Visceral, no.
There are drive modes affecting just about everything but the suspension and that’s equipped with hydraulic Body Motion Control technology that keeps the ride beautifully composed under hard cornering. A reactive engine with a 0-to-60mph time in the mid 6s, paddle shifters capable of changing the faux gears and an all-wheel drive system that can move torque front to rear as well as side to side imbues the QX55 with a sporty aura that’s fun within its expected limits.
Go too hard though and its evident there’s room here for an IPL or Red Sport model as the QX55 prioritizes occupant comfort. And the CVT doesn’t get in the way because Nissan uses one of if not the best such transmission on the market in terms of usability.
Going inside, the 55 feels a little dusty despite its new for 2022 designation. The dual touchscreen setup, though mostly easy to use and well stocked, is legacy technology that makes this car feel less than new.
And here’s a twist I haven’t seen before: wireless CarPlay but no wireless charge pad? That’s the reverse of normal and there’s really no good place to put your phone in here outside of the center concole. Android users still need to connect via USB. But all told it’s an uncluttered interior with quiet and comfy accommodations, rear seats that slide and recline for maximum room, and upscale features such as tri-zone climate control, memory settings for the front seats, a very impressive 16-speaker Bose audio system and some ambient and approach lighting. A glass roof would be a nice touch though because the rear seats can feel a little closed in, instead there’s just a moonroof.
As for ProPILOT ASSIST, it provides intelligent cruise control with full speed range stop and hold and steering assist – a helpful feature when driving during rush hours but at this point anything less than Super Cruise is yesterday’s news. But the adaptive front lighting system with swiveling headlamps and high beam assist are nice touches when driving at night.
Out back you’ve got remote switches for dropping the rear seats and there is some underfloor storage where you can keep the movable, Velcro cargo blocks and net. Though luggage room takes a bit of a hit in the QX55 there’s still more room behind the 2nd row here than in the BMW and Benz.
So I’ve vacillated this week between admiration for the QX55’s design, particularly in this Slate Gray upcharge paint, appreciation for the innovative, go get ‘em turbo engine, and a very welcoming and eye pleasing cabin and my uneasiness with the over $60,00 asking price for what in some ways already seems like a model in a need of an update. I would put the QX55 in the high tier like it but don’t love it category.
Regardless, I think owners will be happy with their choice.
2022 INFINITI QX55 TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES | TESTDRIVENOW 2021(c)