Caraganza First Drive Review 2021 Infiniti QX50: This too shall pass


My how times have changed. The last time I had an Infiniti the world was a much different place. Back in those carefree non-quarantine days, I spent a week with a 2019 Infiniti QX50; a very nice crossover that despite being the smallest of the QX lineup, was just the right size, at least for me.

Back then most of us “commuted” to an “office.” And I did so for a week with a 2019 QX50 and it was a very nice place to be for the 30 minutes each way. Today most of us now commute via Zoom, our office is a bedroom, and we spend our days wearing pajama pants. On those rare occasions when we actually do go out, we look like surgeons walking into an operating room. So, when Infiniti sent me a 2021 QX50 for a recent week, I wondered if I would still like it as much. After all, with no commuting, or runs to the grocery store, what’s the point of having a nice way to get around.

The differences between the 2019 and 2021 models aren’t that much.  That’s mainly due to the fact that the 2019 marked a significant update to the model introduced just a few years prior in 2013.

The QX50 is available in Pure, Luxe, Essential, Sensory, and Autograph models.

In 2020 they did add “Sensory” and “Autograph” variants slotted above the “Pure”, “Luxe” and “Essential” levels. For the record I gave up trying to figure out who came up with those names, or the “Q” and “QX” designations. The 2021 prices range from the entry-level Pure trim with front-wheel drive that has an MSRP of $37,950. A destination charge of $1,025 brings that to $38,975. At the high end of the QX50 range is Autograph trim, starting at $55,225.


For 2021 Infiniti added a new exterior color, more standard safety features, the all-wheel drive option on the Autograph variant now includes a towing package and every level gets more standard features like a Wi-Fi hotspot, laminated front side glass, and side-mounted airbags in the rear seat.  The Luxe now comes standard with more driver assist features, and a blackout package. Those driver assists include adaptive cruise control, enhanced blind-spot monitor, lane-keeping assist, and a semi-autonomous feature called ProPilot Assist. The new appearance package on the Luxe model adds black-painted 20-inch wheels, dark chrome accents, and black mirror caps and grille mesh.

Under the hood, the QX50 is still powered by a 2.0 liter turbo engine, now called a “VC.” The Variable Compression engine optimizes power and fuel efficiency and the engine seamlessly swaps between high compression during steady cruising and low compression during hard acceleration. according to Infiniti. The 2.0 makes 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque and there’s a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that sends that power to either the front or all four wheels.

One of the things I’ve always liked about the Infiniti lineup is the overall styling of their offerings and the QX50 continues that story.  The sweeping lines, the sparing use of chrome and the stance of the QX50 makes it a good-looking crossover. My tester for the week was the Sensory with AWD, and inside I was greeted with the optional panoramic sunroof, something that to me always adds a bit more class to any interior. You can add quilted leather seats, wood interior trim, and a faux-suede headliner to the top of the line, which I suspect would only add to the classy feel inside. There’s plenty of room and with the optional cargo package my tester seemed to have plenty of room to carry just about anything you might need it to.  According to the specs, the QX50 has 31 cubic feet of storage behind the back seat and up to 65 with the 60/40 split-folding rear bench folded flat.

No, I wasn’t commuting during my week, but I did make a point of putting a few miles on the QX50.  The split screens used for navigation and everything else, are actually quite nice.  On the road the 2.0 kept up very well and while I’m not usually a fan of the CVT, Infiniti seems to have tuned it to mimic actual shifting which made me like the QX50 even more.  The optional 16-speaker Bose audio system sounded great and overall the interior is a very nice place to be.

Sure, no one is commuting much these days, meaning our vehicles spend a great deal of time in the driveway, but we all have to have hope. Someday all this too shall pass, and we will be prowling the roads on a regular basis once again. I for one, wouldn’t mind having a QX50 waiting on me when that day finally comes.

The 2023 Sport trim QX50

2023 UPDATE: In the ensuing two years since I spent a week with the 2021 model Infiniti hasn’t changed the QX50 all that much.  For MY 2022 they added more standard features and updated visual options. Every model got wireless Apple CarPlay and Infiniti’s suite of driver assists with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assist. There was also a new optional appearance package, and some trims got some interior enhancements.

For 2023, the Essential trim was replaced by a dark-themed Sport trim now slotting into the middle of the lineup. Sadly there is no ‘Sport’ in the power, but with its gloss black exterior trim and dark painted 20-inch wheels, it certainly looks the part. Inside there is semi-aniline leather upholstery and a 12-speaker Bose stereo and the rest of the lineup gets new standard features including heated exterior mirrors, remote start, a wireless smartphone charging pad. And all models now come with three years of complimentary scheduled maintenance.

I spent a week with the Sport and it was fine, I just wish there was some sort of power upgrade, though it did look nice, and coming in with an MSRP of $52,815, about the same as the 2021 top of the line model, it could open some eyes to those who like a sportier look.

The 2021 Infiniti QX50 Sensory AWD
MSRP: $52,200
MSRP: (as tested): $54,920
Engine: 2.0-liter turbo 268 hp @ 5,600 rpm, 280 lb-ft torque @ 1,600-4,800 rpm
Transmission: CVT
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 22 city, 28 highway, 25 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested mixed conditions): 27 mpg
Base Curb Weight: 4127
Exterior Dimensions (Inches)
Wheelbase 110.2
Overall length 184.7
Overall width 74.9
Overall height 66.0
Minimum ground clearance 8.6
Trunk liftover height 27.7
Step-in height front/rear 17.2 / 17.7

Interior Dimensions
Head room w/o moonroof 41.0 front 39.1 rear
Head room w/ moonroof 40.0 front 38.4 rear
Shoulder room 57.9 front 57.1 rear
Hip room 55.6 front 53.8 rear
Knee room 28.4 front 25.6 rear
Passenger compartment volume (cubic feet) 54.4 / 53.1 w/moonroof
Cargo volume (cubic feet, with 2nd row up) 31.4 / 31.1 w/moonroof
Cargo volume (cubic feet, with 2nd row folded) 65.1 / 64.4 w/moonroof
Total interior volume (cubic feet) 135.8 / 133.3 w/moonroof

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

Greg Engle