Room to Move | 2017 Infiniti QX50

December 2016 View more

Let’s stipulate that compromises are no fun. If you want two things, compromise means that you generally have to give up some part of the first to get some part of the second. And it gets worse the more things you’re trying to juggle. You might even have to give up one goal entirely to get the rest of what you want.

See? Compromises might be necessary, but they definitely are not fun.

But witness the 2017 Infiniti QX50. It has a wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) that’s about three inches longer than on the model it replaced. That extra length translates into about four more inches of legroom in the rear seat, and more knee room for rear seat passengers, too.

Now, in the world of car design, four inches is a big deal—the difference between feeling cramped and feeling like you’ve got plenty of room to stretch out. So you would think that adding all that extra passenger space would require big compromises somewhere else. You would think that the front seat would have to give up legroom, or that the driver would have to give up a big chunk of driving enjoyment. After all, sports cars are small for a reason—bigger cars often aren’t as much fun to drive.

But by some twist of the rules of compromising, it’s as if the extra space has not changed a thing for the QX50’s driver. Compared to the older model, the new QX50 has retained all of its speed. Its handling. Its sporty demeanor.

If you’re keeping score, it’s Driving Fun, 1, Compromises, 0.

The driving fun begins before the car has moved even a foot—when the driver shifts the standard seven-speed automatic transmission out of park. The shift lever feels heavy and satisfying; granted, you’re only shifting into drive—but somehow the shifter’s weightiness implies that you’re about to embark on some serious driving.

And you are. The QX50’s 325-horsepower V6 is a variant of the engine that has been powering Nissans and Infinitis for more than 20 years. There’s a reason for its longevity: It’s a gem. It delivers power early and evenly, with satisfying thrust off the line and a smooth, linear build-up well past legal speeds.

Infiniti also endows the QX50 with the brand’s trademark exhaust note—a muted but unmistakable aural reminder of the car’s potential.

The QX50 stands out in a crowded field of compact crossovers thanks to its athleticism. With a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive, it’s clearly aimed at driving enthusiasts.

All-wheel drive demands a small price premium, but it pays dividends in bad-weather handling. And on dry roads, the QX50 feels well-planted, with nicely weighted steering.

Inside, the QX50 seats five, although the rear seat is more comfortable for two than for three. The aforementioned bonus legroom is noticeable and welcome. Up front, the driver’s cockpit is immediately familiar as an Infiniti design—which is to say, it is cleanly designed and snug, with a relatively small screen atop a flowing center console.

The 2017 Infiniti QX50 starts at $34,450 with rear-wheel drive or $36,250 with all-wheel drive. Both models come with the same high level of standard equipment, including a sunroof and leather seats (heated in front).

Some of the best features, though, are bundled in option packages. For $700, you can add maple trim and a Bose stereo. Another $2,000 adds Infiniti’s superb 360-degree cameras, rear back-up assist, and a navigation system. A $2,750 technology package includes blind spot warning, intelligent cruise control, and other key safety features.

Where to buy

Infinity of Naperville

1550 West Ogden Avenue, Naperville