The QX50 crossover is one of Infiniti's oldest and most overlooked models, first appearing under the nameplate EX35 in late 2007 and garnering little attention ever since.
But to satisfy its China market managers, Infiniti re-engineered the QX50 chassis for 2016, adding just enough length to transform the peppy but perennially low-selling "single person" premium CUV into what the automaker hopes is a viable competitor for a broader swath of the small-crossover market.
What changed? The back seat. Until now, the model's rear seat was essentially a deal-killer. But the addition of just 3.2 inches of wheelbase for 2016 has converted rear legroom into a comfortable space even for tall adults.
- Powertrain: 3.7-liter DOHC V-6 with 325 hp
- Safety: Infiniti's Safety Shield features include lane-departure prevention, intelligent brake assist with forward-collision warning, distance control assist and intelligent cruise control.
- On sale: Now
- Sales outlook: For the most part, Infiniti has been selling fewer than 300 QX50s a month. Up is the only way sales can go in a growing segment.
- Competitors: Acura RDX, Lexus NX
- Strengths: The model is powerful for its class, and acceleration is a pleasure. Infiniti also has reduced the base price by $550.
- Weaknesses: Although the body has received new life, its infotainment and electronics won't catch up with the times for another couple of years.
- Bottom line: New compact-segment models are on the way for Infiniti. But the boom in small premium cars and crossovers has been passing the brand by -- an irony considering the QX50/EX35 was one of the first entrants in that segment. Infiniti believes correcting the QX50's lack of a usable back seat, while also reducing the model's price, will give retailers a lifeline until the newer products arrive.