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.

Read in this review:

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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  • CVT feels outdated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 2021 Infiniti 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
See All 2021 Infiniti QX50 Trims and Specs

2021 QX50 Exterior

See All 2021 Infiniti QX50 Exterior Photos


  • 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

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

2021 QX50 Performance

Engine and Transmission

  • 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.

2021 QX50 Interior

See All 2021 Infiniti QX50 Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • 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

2021 QX50 Trunk and Cargo Space

2021 QX50 Safety and Reliability


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

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Rollover Rating

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.

2021 Infiniti QX50 Comparisons

Acura RDX CarBuzz
Infiniti QX60 Infinity
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Infiniti QX50268 hp23/29 mpg$39,150
Acura RDX 272 hp22/28 mpg$40,600
Infiniti QX60 295 hp21/26 mpg$47,850

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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