2021 Infiniti QX50

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2021 Infiniti QX50 Test Drive Review: Q Stands For Quirky

When Infiniti changed the names of its entire model lineup back in 2014, the EX was rebadged as the Infiniti QX50. Then, in 2019, the Infiniti QX50 was replaced by an all-new version that is still on the market for the 2021 model year. It competes in the highly-competitive compact luxury SUV space, which includes standouts like the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Volvo XC60. These are typically the best-selling models in their respective lineups, but the QX50 is only Infiniti's second-best seller behind the larger, and older, QX60.

The Infiniti QX50 SUV is an oddity when viewed from the lens of its competition. Only one engine is available, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder packing a new industry-first variable compression technology to deliver 268 horsepower. The engine may be highly advanced, but the transmission is anything but; a continuously variable system like the ones found on most Nissan models. After spending the week driving a 2021 Infiniti QX50 Sensory AWD, we came away convinced that the Q in its name stands for quirky, but this isn't necessarily a good thing.

2021 Infiniti QX50 Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 QX50?

Infiniti hasn't left the QX50 entirely untouched for 2021. Minor changes include newly standard in-car Wi-Fi, side-mounted airbags in the back, and laminated front side windows. The Luxe trim is now offered with an available Appearance package which adds 20-inch wheels, dark chrome accents, and more. This model also gets standard heated front seats and more safety features such as a blind-spot monitor, a semi-autonomous driving mode, and lane departure prevention. There are minor updates to other trims, with the Essential now getting traffic sign recognition and the Sensory boasting a head-up display. Mineral Black joins the exterior color palette.

Pros and Cons

  • It looks great
  • There's lots of space inside
  • It's a refined cruiser
  • The seats are pillowy soft
  • Incredibly quiet cabin
  • Fussy infotainment system
  • The engine doesn't sound great under acceleration
  • CVT feels outdated
  • Lacking any sporting character
  • Full ProPilot Assist locked to top trim

Best Deals on QX50

2021 Infiniti QX50 Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive

QX50 Exterior

The exterior design of the 2021 QX50 is a clean and attractive one, and while not wholly groundbreaking, it is more intriguing than German competitors such as the Audi Q5. Standard exterior features across the range include automatic on/off LED headlights, privacy glass, a power liftgate, and 19-inch alloy wheels. The Luxe model and above get standard LED fog lights, a panoramic power moonroof, and aluminum roof rails. Essential models add rain-sensing windshield wipers. The top-of-the-range Autobiography gets some premium tricks, such as a motion-activated liftgate. The newly available Appearance Package adds 20-inch black-painted and machine-finished wheels, black outside mirror caps, a Graphite headliner, and Dark Chrome exterior highlights.

2021 Infiniti QX50 Front View Infiniti
2021 Infiniti QX50 Rear View Infiniti
2021 Infiniti QX50 Front Angle View Infiniti
See All 2021 Infiniti QX50 Exterior Photos


The QX50 is classified as a compact luxury crossover SUV and is similar in size to competitors such as the Audi Q5. The QX50's dimensions include an overall length of 184.7 inches, a width of 74.9 inches excluding its side mirrors, and is 66 inches tall. This vehicle rides on a 110.2-inch wheelbase. The base model in front-wheel-drive configuration tips the scales at 3,838 pounds, but going for the all-wheel-drive version of this trim will see that number go up to 3,968 lbs. The heaviest model is the AWD Autobiography at 4,178 pounds.

  • Length 184.7 in
  • Wheelbase 110.2 in
  • Height 66.0 in
  • Max Width 74.9 in
  • Front Width 64.4 in
  • Rear Width 64.2 in
  • Curb Weight 3,838.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

The bold lines, bulged hood and sleek side profile of the 2021 QX50 deserve to be accentuated, and Infiniti offers several eye-catching exterior paint colors that do just that. The base model is available in five colors, namely Hermosa Blue, Lunar White, Liquid Platinum, Graphite Shadow, and Black Obsidian. Of these five no-cost options, Liquid Platinum and Graphite Shadow are standouts. The Luxe trim adds three more colors at $695 a pop: Majestic White, Mocha Almond, and the newly added Mineral Black. Sensory and Autobiography models are offered with a $900 Dynamic Sunstone Red paint job that looks stunning in person. However, Lunar White falls away for these more expensive trims.

  • Hermosa Blue
  • Lunar White
  • Black Obsidian
  • Liquid Platinum
  • Graphite Shadow
  • Majestic White
  • Mocha Almond
  • Mineral Black
  • Dynamic Sunstone Red

2021 QX50 Performance

The car-driving public has become used to small-capacity turbocharged engines in this class, and manufacturers like Acura and Audi both use turbocharged 2.0-liter engines in their respective offerings. The QX50 follows the trend with its 2.0-liter turbo powerplant but throws a slight curveball in the form of a variable compression ratio engine (Infiniti calls it the VC-Turbo), which seamlessly alternates between low and high compression in the engine. Sending power to either the front wheels or all four, this powerplant produces 268 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, and the advanced tech supposedly improves efficiency, but most won't care when slogging the kids to school. The QX50 never feels underpowered, but it is far from being a high-performance SUV, with its acceleration specs including a 0 to 60 mph sprint being completed in the mid-six-second range based on independent testing. In terms of towing capacity, the QX50 can haul up to 3,000 pounds in AWD Autograph guise with the optional tow package fitted.

2021 Infiniti QX50 Rearward Vision Infiniti
2021 Infiniti QX50 Central Console Infiniti
2021 Infiniti QX50 Engine Bay Infiniti

Engine and Transmission

Most people won't think twice about the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine under the hood of the QX50; almost every other vehicle in its class has one too, and they all produce more or less the same power outputs. But the engine under the hood of the QX50 is rather unique: it is the world's first production variable compression ratio engine. This means that this engine can change its compression ratio from 8:1 when high performance is demanded to up to 14:1 when economy is called for. Lower compression gives improved performance at the expense of efficiency, while higher compression improves fuel economy but can cause engine knocking when running poor fuel.

All of this equates to a maximum power output of 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, which is adequate but far from class-leading in this segment. Power is sent to either the front or all four wheels via a CVT transmission. This engine delivers good low-down power, making the QX50 a pleasure to drive around town in start/stop traffic, but we found that it becomes unrefined under hard acceleration. The QX bundles its powertrain with a world-first active engine mount vibration damping system, which creates quieter operation.

  • Engine
    2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

While many of the best-sellers in this segment send their power to the rear wheels or a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, the QX50 uses a front-wheel-drive layout with available front-biased AWD. Opting for FWD in the luxury segment isn't always a detriment, as evidenced by the sporty Acura RDX, but Infiniti hasn't managed the same level of success found in its Japanese rival because the QX50's driving experience is anything but engaging. Infiniti offers two types of steering: a rack-electric unit on most trims or a steer-by-wire Direct Adaptive system on the top Autograph trim. Our teaser featured the rack-electric unit, which felt light and numb on the road. In our experience, Infiniti's Direct Adaptive steering isn't much better, but offers the ability to change ratios depending on speed.

The QX50 excels in ride comfort, keeping occupants happily cocooned from road imperfections with its soft suspension and well-insulated cabin. Buyers who prefer a traditional luxury experience and don't have the need to reach the top legal speed at every opportunity may enjoy the QX50's laid back demeanor. As a sign of the times, Infiniti threw in some drive modes, including standard, eco, sport, and personal, some of which can dramatically change the car's personality. Eco mode morphs the QX50 into a slug with painfully long throttle inputs while sport mode tightens the steering tremendously and tells the transmission to stay in lower ratios. Speaking of the transmission, the CVT is fine for casual use but heavy-footed drivers will likely hate the drone it emits under hard acceleration. We'd describe the overall QX50 driving experience as comfortable, but not special enough to stand out in a crowded segment.

Infiniti QX50 Gas Mileage

Despite all the great new engine technology the Infiniti QX50 brings to the table, the QX50's official economy numbers are barely better than its primary rivals. The EPA rates that the QX50 will manage a best of 23/29/26 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles in FWD guise. The AWD model sees a slight drop in efficiency at 22/28/25 mpg; we observed 22.3 in our AWD test car. By comparison, the Audi Q5 achieves 23/28/25 mpg and the slightly more powerful Acura RDX will get 22/28/24 mpg, showing that the complicated VC-Turbo engine might not be worth the effort. Its relatively small 16-gallon fuel tank allows the QX50 to travel up to 416 miles in FWD guise.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    16.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 23/29 mpg
* 2021 Infiniti QX50 PURE FWD

Infiniti QX50 Interior

Infiniti is known for building luxury cars, so we expected to find nothing less than a premium interior space and were not disappointed: the cabin of the QX50 is a spacious and comfortable place to spend your time, as we've found in prior reviews of this model. The interior design is mature and elegant in an old-world sense, and those who prefer a more contemporary look will appreciate the interior of the Audi Q5. Be that as it may, you still get your money's worth here. The base model offers standard features such as dual-zone automatic temperature control and eight-way power-adjustable front seats. As is to be expected, the driver position is relatively high up, affording good forward visibility, and getting in and out of the cabin won't be an issue for both short and tall individuals.

2021 Infiniti QX50 Dashboard Infiniti
2021 Infiniti QX50 Central Control Panel Infiniti
2021 Infiniti QX50 Gear Shifter Infiniti
See All 2021 Infiniti QX50 Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The QX50 is strictly a five-seat vehicle with no option for a third row. Infiniti scores a win here, as the QX50 boasts class-leading interior space for front and rear occupants. Front seat passengers enjoy 39.6 inches of legroom and 41 inches of headroom without the moonroof. In the back, the second row offers a spacious 38.7 inches of legroom with a sliding seat (a rare feature in this segment). All of those seats feature Infiniti's Zero Gravity NASA-inspired technology, meaning they are pillowy soft and devoid of pressure points. Think of the QX50 as a comfy couch on wheels.

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 39.6 in
  • Front Head Room 41.0 in
  • Rear Leg Room 38.7 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.1 in

Interior Colors and Materials

In terms of material quality, the QX50 excels with soft-touch surfaces, premium leathers, and luxurious trims. There are some buttons and controls shared with Nissan, but they are few and far between. At the base level, the QX50 is only available with Graphite leatherette paired with aluminum trim. Wheat leatherette is available by stepping up one trim level. The Essential trim transforms these two colors into real leather when equipped with the Convenience package, while the Sensory is the first to add leather upholstery. The Autograph trim steps up to semi-aniline leather, and includes Natural Maple wood interior trim accents, and an Ultrasuede headliner. The Autograph is available with a premium white interior color, paired with blue accents for a unique signature look.

Infiniti QX50 Trunk and Cargo Space

Vehicles competing in the luxury SUV market need to juggle practicality with a premium driving experience, and we applaud the Infiniti QX50 for doing just that. Not only is the interior refined, but there is also good space on offer, both for people and their stuff. The QX50 offers a class-leading 31.4 cubic feet of space behind the second row of seats, while cars fitted with the power moonroof see that number drop slightly to 31.1 cubes. This is enough space to carry a week's worth of groceries for a sizable family, and if you need even more space, the rear 60/40-split fold-down seatbacks can avail a whopping 65.1 cubic feet (or 64.4 cubes with the moonroof fitted). Small items can be stored in the glovebox, door pockets, front seatback map pockets, or center armrest storage compartment, and there are dual cupholders front and back.

2021 Infiniti QX50 Cargo Detalis Infiniti
2021 Infiniti QX50 Trunk Space Infiniti
2021 Infiniti QX50 Maximum Trunk Space Infiniti

QX50 Infotainment and Features


Infiniti does not hold back when it comes to standard features: the base model offers a wide range of standard features, including highlights such as dual zone automatic temperature control, eight-way power-adjustable front seats with driver power lumbar support, intelligent key with illuminated push-button ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and safety tech such as high beam assist, blind spot warning, predictive forward collision warning, and forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Luxe models add features such seat heating, a panoramic power moonroof, remote engine start, and added safety tech in the form of distance control assist and Infiniti's ProPILOT Assist, which includes steering assist and advanced intelligent cruise control with full-speed range and stop and hold functionality, as well as lane departure prevention and blind spot intervention. The Essential trim offers even more tech; here, you get a standard surround-view camera system, traffic sign recognition, navigation, and front and rear parking sensors. The Sensory trim includes a head-up display and leather seating. Autograph derivatives add luxuries such as ventilated front seats and tri-zone climate control.


Infotainment may be the QX50's most glaring weakness. All trim levels use Infiniti's InTouch infotainment system with eight-inch upper and seven-inch lower touchscreen displays. The top screen is reserved for the navigation map or Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, while the lower screen is used for climate, radio, and other functions with some physical shortcut buttons surrounding it. We found the system to be a jumbled mess to use, and the two screens look as though they came from different decades. There is no greater example of this than the bird's eye camera, which has harsh divider lines and low resolution. The Nissan Rogue's system looks more modern, and this should not be the case when spending more on an Infiniti.

At least they feature Apple and Android support, making the overall experience more tolerable. Bluetooth streaming, SiriusXM satellite radio, as well as a six-speaker audio system with AM/FM radio and CD player all come standard, while upper trims gain built-in navigation, and a Bose Performance Series sound system with 16 speakers.

QX50 Problems and Reliability

The good news is that the 2021 Infiniti QX50 is yet to be recalled. Specific 2020 models were recalled due to a poorly printed tire/loading safety placard, but reliability issues don't seem to be a major concern with the QX50. That said, J.D. Power gave the QX50 a specific quality/reliability score of 71 out of 100, which isn't exactly exceptional. Infiniti will cover the QX50 with a basic four-year/60,000-mile warranty, a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty, and four years of roadside assistance.


  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    6 Years \ 70,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    7 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ Unlimited Miles

QX50 Safety

A comprehensive Infiniti QX50 safety review has yet to be conducted by the IIHS and the NHTSA, although it did achieve a four-star rating for the rollover test from the NHTSA. The 2020 model received a more thorough evaluation and delivered good results, with an overall five-star safety rating. The IIHS only conducted a partial test, including a Superior rating for crash avoidance and mitigation.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

The Infiniti QX50 crossover comes packed with standard safety features. The basics include an eight-airbag system with roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental airbags for front and rear occupants, along with brake assist and stability control. Driver assistance features that are standard across the range include blind spot warning, predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear automatic braking. The Luxe adds the semi-autonomous cruise control system named ProPilot Assist, as well as lane departure prevention and blind spot intervention. The Essential trim includes a surround-view camera system (other models have a rearview camera), traffic sign recognition, front and rear parking sensors, and rain-sensing window wipers. The Sensory adds a head-up display.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Infiniti QX50 SUV a good car?

Compact crossovers are almost always a luxury brand's best-seller, but this is not the case for the 2021 Infiniti QX50; we think we know why that is. This segment is jam-packed with stellar options. There are plenty of sporty competitors like the Acura RDX, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLC, plus comfort-minded alternatives like the Audi Q5, Lincoln Corsair, and Volvo XC60. The QX50 attempts to be different with curvaceous styling, a unique engine, and massive interior space, but we just aren't sold that it's enough to stand out.

Infiniti tried to be quirky with the QX50, but we think the company went about it in the wrong way. We'd easily trade that complex VC-Turbo engine for a hybrid drivetrain that could better compete on fuel economy or a rear-wheel-drive platform that could give the QX50 a sporting edge. As it stands, the QX50 is one of the quietest, softest and most spacious vehicles in this segment, but it is let down by a complicated infotainment system, average fuel economy, and a lack of any sporting character. For these reasons and more, we would skip the QX50 and opt for its mainstream sibling, the Nissan Rogue.

🚘What’s The Price of the Infiniti QX50?

With five trims and two drivetrain configurations to choose from, the QX50's asking price varies by quite a margin. The base model in FWD configuration starts with an MSRP of $37,950 in the USA, excluding tax, registration, and a destination fee of $1,025, and the AWD version will cost you $2,000 more at $39,950. The Luxe starts at $41,500, and the AWD version costs $43,500. Pricing for the Essential models ranges from $44,700 in FWD guise to $46,700 for the AWD version. Closer to the top, we get the Sensory, which sells for between $50,000 and $52,000, and the range-topping Autograph will set you back $54,200 for the FWD vehicle and $56,850 for AWD. With every single option ticked, the Infiniti QX50 price will climb to around 70,000 US dollars.

2021 Infiniti QX50 Models

Infiniti offers an extensive lineup for 2021 consisting of five trim levels. The range starts with the Pure and is followed by the Luxe, Essential, Sensory, and Autograph. All five trim levels are powered by the same 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with variable compression ratio technology. Power is sent to either the front or all four wheels via a CVT transmission.

The Pure offers standard features such as dual-zone automatic climate control, an intelligent key with illuminated push-button ignition, eight-way power-adjustable front seats, ambient interior lighting, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, an eight-inch infotainment display with a six-speaker audio system, and driver aids such as high beam assist, blind-spot warning, lane departure warning, and forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

Luxe models add features such as ProPilot steering assist and advanced intelligent cruise control with full-speed range and stop and hold, heated seats, a panoramic moonroof, remote engine start, distance control assist, and driver assistance tech such as lane departure prevention and blind-spot intervention.

The Essential trim adds a surround-view camera system, parking sensors on both ends of the body, traffic sign recognition, navigation, and rain-sensing window wipers.

The Sensory leather seating, a driver's seat memory system, and a head-up display. Here, the sound system is upgraded from the six speakers of the preceding trims to 16 speakers as part of the Bose audio upgrade.

In addition to all the features of the Sensory, the Autograph adds an Ultrasuede headliner, semi-aniline leather seating surfaces, tri-zone automatic climate control, and a motion-activated liftgate.

See All 2021 Infiniti QX50 Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

New owners will have to skip the base model and head straight for the Luxe if they want to gain access to any sort of optional packages. The Luxe is offered with the $1,200 Appearance Package, which adds a set of 20-inch, black-painted and machine-finished wheels with all-season run-flat tires, black exterior trim, heated outside mirrors, a Dark Chrome effect on the grille surround, fenders, and liftgate, a body-color rear diffuser, and a Graphite headliner. The Essential trim is eligible for a $1,650 Convenience Package that includes leather seating, a driver's side memory system, a powered steering column, reverse tilt-down side mirrors, and a heated steering wheel. Those in the fortunate position to be able to afford the Autograph trim can add the Premium White Leather Package which, for $2,000, adds white semi-aniline leather-appointed seating with quilting, blue Ultrasuede trim for the upper door, upper instrument panel, and center console lid accents, quilted seat stitching, and blue piping on the seats.

🚗What Infiniti QX50 Model Should I Buy?

Infiniti sent us the second-highest Sensory trim level to review, but we'd consider stepping down to the well-named Essential trim level because it provides most of the essential goodies at a reasonable $44,700 price ($46,700 with AWD). The only option to add is the $1,650 Convenience Package, which includes real leather, memory functions for the driver seat, mirrors, and steering wheel, a power steering column with a heated steering wheel, and reverse tilt-down mirrors. Done up reasonably, the QX50 will cost $47,375 ($49,375 with AWD). Or, for around $9,000 less, we suggest the Nissan Rogue Platinum which offers similar size (albeit with less power), a premium interior, and better available technology.

2021 Infiniti QX50 Comparisons

Acura RDX CarBuzz
Infiniti QX60 Infinity
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Infiniti QX50268 hp23/29 mpg$38,050
Acura RDX 272 hp22/28 mpg$40,600
Infiniti QX60 295 hp21/26 mpg$47,350

2021 Infiniti QX50 vs Acura RDX

The Acura RDX offers a very similar day-to-day experience and is also targeted toward the premium end of its class. The RDX's exterior design is bolder, and some will prefer its fresh and contemporary styling over that of the more reserved QX50. Under the hood, the RDX packs a solid punch thanks to a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that produces a reliable 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, but it is slightly thirstier than the QX50 with a consumption figure of 22/28/24 mpg city/highway/combined in its most efficient guise. The RDX feels more athletic behind the steering wheel, but we think its chassis deserves more power. Inside, the RDX offers similar passenger space to the QX50, but the QX50 dominates in terms of cargo space. Tech levels are adequate, and the RDX offers similar driver assistance features such as road departure alert and lane-keep assist. With a starting price of $38,400, the RDX is slightly more expensive, and we feel like the QX50 offers a more luxurious experience and more practicality.

See Acura RDX Review

2021 Infiniti QX50 vs Infiniti QX60

The QX60 is all about passenger space. This seven-seat midsize luxury SUV sits one step above the QX50 in Infiniti's SUV lineup and takes a more traditional approach to the premium SUV game. Besides the noticeable difference in size, these two cars share similar looks, and some could easily mistake the one for the other. That's not a bad thing. Under the hood of the QX60, you'll find a trusty 3.5-liter V6 engine producing 295 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. With its added weight and lower torque figure, the QX60 feels like the slower car, and a best fuel economy rating of only 20/27/22 mpg makes it less efficient. On the road, the QX60 makes its weight known in the corners, but it's a capable cruiser. Inside, these two cars share the same impressive build quality, and higher up in the trim levels, the QX60 feels like a proper luxury SUV. The QX60's biggest party trick is its three rows of seating. Behind the third row, it offers less cargo space than the QX50 but drop the seats flat, and it becomes an excellent cargo hauler. The QX60 starts at $44,350, which is a significant price hike, but it will be worth it for larger families.

See Infiniti QX60 Review

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