SAN DIEGO -- Infiniti has cut the price of its re-engineered QX50 in a bid to finally bring it to life with U.S. buyers.
The vehicle, on the market since late 2007, is being reintroduced with a lengthened chassis and viable rear seating for the first time. It began reaching showrooms this month.
To make sure the crossover gets noticed, Infiniti has cut the base price of the enhanced vehicle by $550 from the 2015 model year, even with new standard features, including heated leather front seats. In addition, the company has reduced the cost of option packages and is offering the 2016 model's step-up Premium package for $500, a reduction from the $2,700 the package cost in 2015.
Those pricing changes will mean that customers can buy the improved version of the QX50 in a Premium package for $50 less than the outgoing base model sold this year.
The move reflects two issues at Nissan Motor Co. First, the automaker has been attempting to bolster consumer impressions of both its Nissan and Infiniti brands for the past two years by rethinking transaction costs and trimming back incentives. Jose Munoz, Nissan's North American chairman, already cut many manufacturer prices on the Nissan-brand side, resulting in lower incentive spending there.
Infiniti now is taking a step in the same direction.
The move is also an aggressive play by Infiniti to cash in on the growth in crossovers. Infiniti executives have bemoaned their shortage of crossover products as luxury competitors chalk up sales in the segment. Ironically, Infiniti was among the earliest luxury segment contenders, with a small crossover it introduced in late 2007 as the EX35.
That model is now sold as the QX50, but Infiniti has never marketed the vehicle with any zeal. In the first eight months of this year, Infiniti sold just 1,855 QX50s.
That will change now that it has a newly spacious rear seat and more attractive pricing, says Randy Parker, vice president for Infiniti Americas. And he believes the sticker reduction will bring the QX50 up on more Internet shopping searches.
The 2016 model comes in rear-wheel drive with a base price of $35,445, including shipping, and all-wheel drive for $36,845, including shipping.
Infiniti now provides heated leather seats and a moonroof as standard features. Last year, those two items cost an additional $1,750.
Parker says that with those two reductions combined, the actual price change amounts to a $2,300 savings, compared with 2015 prices. He adds, "And you're getting a bigger car."