Beneath its nondescript exterior, the 2019 Infiniti QX50 boasts new engine tech

The outgoing-generation Infiniti QX50 was always a bit of an oddball. It was basically a wagon version of now-defunct Infiniti G37 sedan, but with a taller roof and other cosmetic changes. It was somewhere between a true wagon and the crossover Infiniti wanted it to be.

The redesigned QX50 debuting at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show promises to avoid that identity crisis. The 2019 Infiniti QX50 features a more conventional utility-vehicle design, but Infiniti hopes some new tech will make it more than just another cookie-cutter crossover.

The exterior styling is a by-the-numbers job that hits the expected SUV styling cues — like a big upright grille and boxy wheel arches — along with Infiniti-specific cues like a “double-arch grille,” slim headlights, and sculpted flanks, to give the QX50 a familial resemblance to the Nissan luxury brand’s other models. Under the skin, the QX50 rides on a new platform unrelated to the previous-generation model. The old QX50 was based on a rear-wheel drive platform, but the new platform is front-wheel drive based (with all-wheel drive available as an option in both cases).

The QX50 is the first production model to get Infiniti’s new VC-Turbo 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The “VC” is reference to variable compression ratio, a technology that’s never been used before on a mass-production engine. A linkage system alters the pistons’ reach, allowing the compression ratio to change from a performance-oriented 8:1, to a more fuel efficient 14:1.

The goal was to create a small engine that is both powerful and efficient. In the QX50, the 2.0-liter engine produces 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. That will shunt the all-wheel drive 2019 QX50 from 0 to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds (front-wheel drive models take 6.7 seconds) and on to a top speed of 143 mph, according to Infiniti. The automaker expects EPA fuel-economy ratings of 27 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, and 26 mpg combined with all-wheel drive. A continuously-variable transmission (CVT) is mandatory in both cases.

The trick new engine can’t match the 325 horsepower of the outgoing QX50, but that model packed a bigger, 3.7-liter natural aspirated V6. The smaller VC-Turbo does offers 13 more lb-ft of torque, and a noticeable bump in estimated fuel economy over the 2017 QX50’s 20 mpg combined (with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive).

The 2019 Infiniti QX50 also gets parent company Nissan’s ProPilot Assist driver-assist tech. The system can control acceleration, braking and steering during single-lane highway driving (no Tesla-style automated lane changes here). In a press release, Infiniti vice president, product and programs, François Bancon said the goal of this tech is to “empower the driver and enhance feelings of pleasure behind the wheel, not to remove the driver from the equation.” But Infiniti parent Nissan does see ProPilot Assist as the first step toward fully autonomous cars.

Full autonomy won’t come until awhile after the 2019 Infiniti QX50 goes on sale though. Expect to see the new QX50 in dealerships sometime next year, with pricing information to be revealed closer to the launch date.

Updated: Added more photos

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