Increasing sales is surely on the mind of Infiniti executives as they introduce the latest version of the Infiniti QX50 at the 2015 New York International Auto Show. In 2014, Canadians bought 1,897 Infiniti QX50s, while Americans bought 2,727, and these aren't large numbers for Infiniti's compact luxury SUV, especially given that it's in such a hot market segment.
But Infiniti's been busy introducing new styling and replacing its line-up lately, starting with the Q50 sedan. Also expected soon are the very appealing and all-new Q30 and QX30, now still in “concept” form but well along the path to production.
The 2016 QX50 is the latest Infiniti to be updated. It acquires an exterior treatment with some similarity to the Q50 sedan, but largely retains its familiar profile. Actually, a significant update or replacement has been a long time coming; with the QX50, formerly known as the EX 35, having been around in largely unchanged form for eight years.
The outgoing QX50 – kind of a sporty wagon crossover with a Porsche Macan-like extended hood – had a distinctive appearance but the typical media knocks against it were based on insufficient rear passenger room and limited cargo capacity. Dealing with these criticisms, Infiniti has stretched the QX50 wheelbase by 80 millimetres to create more rear seat legroom and increase cargo capacity. They've also slightly raised the ride height, giving it a more commanding presence.
Described as a “revised version” by Infiniti, rather than being an all-new model, the 2016 QX50 features a new front bumper and lower front fascia, new LED Daytime Running Lights, new Infiniti-style double-arch front grille, new side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, updated side sill styling, new rear bumper and lower fascia. There's also a new “Hagane” blue exterior colour option and optional 19-inch alloy wheels.
Interestingly, the changes both in dimensions and styling don't make the QX50 look appreciably bigger, even though overall length is increased by 113 millimetres (4.5 inches) from 4,631 mm to 4,744 mm. Once you check out the rear passenger area, however, you can see the difference. There's 109 mm (4.3 inches) of additional rear seat legroom and 3.9 inches of additional rear knee room (compared with the 2015 model). Seventy-five litres of cargo space are added and overall interior volume is increased by 235 litres.
QX 50 remains powered by Nissan's formidable 3.7-litre V6 engine generating 325-horsepower and a seven-speed automatic transmission. It certainly doesn't lack in power and performance. Standard features include leather upholstery, heated front seats, Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition, SiriusXM® Satellite Radio, Bluetooth® Hands-Free Phone System, RearView Monitor, eight-spoke 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and the moonroof.
Available technology is extensive (the three trim levels are Premium, Navigation and Technology), including Blind Spot Warning (BSW) system, Around View Monitor with Front and Rear Sonar System, Lane Departure Prevention system (LDP), Intelligent Cruise Control (Full-Speed Range), Distance Control Assist (DCA) and Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA) with Forward Collision Warning.
A fully-equipped 2016 Infiniti QX 50 also includes Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS) with auto-leveling headlights, maple interior accents, Bose® Audio System with 11 speakers, Advanced Climate Control System (ACCS) with Plasmacluster® air purifier, power up-folding second-row seat and the 19-inch wheels.
Whether the increased interior room will translate into increased sales remains to be seen. It is fundamentally the same vehicle as the outgoing QX50, after all. And when seen side-by-side with the daring and dramatically designed QX30, the QX50 lines really show their age.
A proper road test will give a better idea of the QX50's driving dynamics, utility and curb appeal. Pricing for the QX50 has always been very competitive. Release date for the 2016 Infiniti QX50 is mid-2015.