Ignore the upholstery and trim, though, and the rest of the QX50's cabin comes together well. Infiniti is adopting the same high-density-foam seats that Nissan has been using for years, and the effect on behind-the-wheel comfort in the QX50 is palpable. These chairs are remarkably comfortable—it's difficult not to release an audible sigh after getting settled—offering a great range of adjustment and support. In back, space is ample, even though the seats themselves are neither as supportive nor as comfortable as the fronts. Infiniti claims best-in-class second-row legroom with 38.7 inches—its closest rival is the Lexus RX with 38 inches.
The first ProPilot Infiniti
The 2019 QX50 is the first member of the Infiniti family to get Nissan's ProPilot Assist electronic driver assist system. The system blends a host of active safety features into a single suite that drivers can activate via the press of a button on the steering wheel. But the QX50 differs from its mainstream cousins by adding Infiniti's Direct Adaptive Steering system. This steer-by-wire setup is notorious among enthusiasts for sapping any sense of steering feedback from the wheel. That's a problem in a sporty Q50 or Q60, but it's easier to ignore in a luxury crossover.
Because DAS is a fully computerized steering setup, it integrates better with ProPilot. On crowded SoCal freeways, ProPilot's behavior felt less invasive than Volvo's excellent Pilot Assist. Where the steering in the Volvo takes on a heavy, artificial weight with Pilot Assist engaged, the QX50's steer-by-wire system feels more natural. It's missing the force-feedback-like effect you get in the Volvo and feels more invisible because of it. That may make ProPilot less intimidating to the average consumer.
The rest of Infiniti's technical implementation is less successful. The two-screen infotainment system confuses drivers and breaks up the clean looks of what's otherwise a very attractive cabin. And it's worth noting that Infiniti still doesn't bundle Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility with the system. There's an available head-up display, but if you like your sunglasses polarized, as I do, don't plan on getting much use out of it.
Prices for the 2019 Infiniti QX50 start at $37,545 (including a mandatory $995 destination charge) for the base Pure trim. My test models both wore the range-topping $44,345 Essence trim, and then added an extra $1,800 for all-wheel drive. But it's simple to elevate the price far beyond that—while the QX50 Pure doesn't offer any optional packages and the only box to tick on the mid-grade Luxe is for heated front seats, the Essence offers six separate packages.
Grab the $2,000 ProActive Package (the entire ProPilot Assist suite, Direct Adaptive Steering, blind-spot monitors, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, and a head-up display), the $7,500 Sensory Package (20-inch alloys, the lovely material upgrades, ventilated front seats, active front lighting, a 16-speaker Bose audio system, and a heated tilt/telescopic steering wheel), and the $2,000 Autograph Package (white quilted leather upholstery with brown accents and blue suede trim), and you'll be nudging past $58,000.
That is undeniably a luxury vehicle's price tag, but for the first time in its history the QX50 feels worthy of it. It's not perfect—I'd really like to see a more progressive throttle, not to mention more feedback with DAS—but the QX50 is a sign of what the brand is capable of. For consumers, that's reason enough to finally take Infiniti seriously.
Infiniti provided Internet Brands Automotive travel and lodging to bring you this report.