Unexpected Bumps in the 2024 Infiniti QX50 Driving Experience

The innovative variable-compression engine technology feels let down by the rest of the drivetrain.

Dan Carney, Senior Editor

May 14, 2024

3 Min Read
2024 Infiniti QX50 Autograph AWD
2024 Infiniti QX50 Autograph AWDInfiniti

Infiniti’s handsome QX50 compact crossover boasts use of the world’s only variable compression engine, a clever technology that proves invisible to the driver in daily use.

The QX50’s turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 engine produces 268 horsepower and a robust 280 lb.-ft. and idles so quietly that its cylinder count is never apparent, unlike the engines in rivals from the likes of Mercedes, whose four-cylinder engines are coarse and unrefined at idle, detracting from the luxury experience.

Ostensibly, the reason for such advanced engine technology, along with dual direct/port fuel injection, is fuel efficiency, but the Infiniti delivered gas mileage little different than a V6 would have under the same conditions. The QX50’s EPA ratings are 22 mpg city and 28 mpg in highway driving, but during admittedly hard Interstate driving battling tractor-trailer traffic, the QX50 delivered an unimpressive 23 mpg.

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Additionally, Infiniti’s use of a continuously variable transmission is let down by calibration that lets the engine rev incessantly when accelerating at highway speeds, such as when passing. Unfortunately, such passing maneuvers are also undermined by torque steer that leaves the driver wrestling the steering wheel to hold the intended trajectory.

Related:The $60,000 Infiniti QX50 Has The World’s Most Advanced Combustion Engine

It seems like Infiniti’s powertrain innovation was limited to just the engine, when the transmission and suspension could benefit from some attention to bring the QX50’s highway driving experience up to the standard set by the engine.

The QX50’s cabin is as posh as the $61,610 price tag for the top-of-the-line Autograph edition would suggest, with soft-touch surfaces and abundant Alcantara trim. Infiniti uses Nissan’s dual-screen center display system that provides direct access to many functions, either through one of the screens' top-level menus or through the rows of buttons surrounding those screens. Hurry for physical buttons for seat heaters and coolers!

However, there is one annoyance that is buried beneath several menu layers. The QX50 Autograph is equipped with a hitch receiver tucked almost invisibly under the rear bumper, where other vehicles wear silly fake racecar diffusers. It is rated to tow 3,000 lbs. which makes the QX50 a valid outdoor lifestyle machine, capable of towing compact campers, personal watercraft, or dirt bikes with ease.

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I used the receiver to hold a bike rack. When backing in Reverse, the bike on the rack triggered the QX50’s automatic rear collision avoidance system, clamping on the brakes. Disabling the system requires a deep dive through the QX50’s on-screen menu system every time the car restarts. Forget and it will slam on the brakes while you are trying to back out of your parking space. Frustrating.

Related:The $34,000 Hyundai Sonata's Groundbreaking Engine Technology

I’d like to see this be more easily accessible and be persistent, maybe with a pop-up reminder on the instrument panel on startup as a reminder so drivers don’t forget to enable this useful safety function when the bike rack has been returned to the garage.

Driven gently at around-town speeds, the QX50 seems like a suitable partner for everyday driving, with its posh cabin appointments and spacious back seat. It is unfortunate that when driven harder the drivetrain reveals a lack of attention to detail, as an engine with this much torque shouldn’t need to be revved continuously while accelerating and that same torque needs to be channeled to the wheels so it doesn’t challenge the driver for control of the vehicle’s direction.

About the Author(s)

Dan Carney

Senior Editor, Design News

Dan’s coverage of the auto industry over three decades has taken him to the racetracks, automotive engineering centers, vehicle simulators, wind tunnels, and crash-test labs of the world.

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