I’m used to driving 1960s-era cars, to the point that my Mazda 3 commuter regularly gives me a sense of future shock. So when I asked for a car to drive from Los Angeles to my home town of Copperopolis, California, then onward to San Francisco before returning to Automobile’s L.A. headquarters, I was a little intimidated by our tech-heavy Four Seasons Infiniti QX50.
The first part of my trip was spent in stop-and-go traffic—because Los Angeles—but I quickly found that the QX50 is great for a traffic-heavy commute. The adaptive cruise control and lane-centering feature is a huge help, as the car pretty much drives itself, although giving up so much control takes some getting used to. Apparently, the car is rather fond of this environment, though, because the built-in navigation system took me on the longest, most heavily trafficked route. Infiniti’s infotainment system still doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay, so I couldn’t use Google Maps to guide me around the worst of the gridlock.
Once I got out of the horrendous L.A. traffic and onto the open road, I found the QX50 to be composed and comfortable. The CVT transmission and 2.0-liter variable-compression engine work together to make the QX50 a very smooth-cruising vehicle.
One criticism I have of modern cars is the lack of seat comfort—they just don’t feel as nice as the giant spring-filled couches found in older cars, although we’ll ignore those classic thrones’ complete lack of lateral support. But the QX50’s seating is great—a recent strong suit for the brand and parent Nissan—and the fact that the front seats are both heated and cooled is a nice bonus. In fact, they’d probably be great for a quick nap, although not while driving, of course, even if the semi-autonomous features made the idea tempting.
308 miles later I arrived in good’ ol Copperopolis, where there are more cows than people. Copperopolis has plenty of winding country roads to try out the QX50’s handling. I wasn’t expecting much, as the last SUV I drove on these roads was my parents’ 2007 Saturn Vue, the worst handling vehicle I’ve yet experienced. But with Sport mode dialed up, the QX50 did great—not once did the car feel top-heavy or like I wasn’t in complete control. I took my parents for a ride, prompting my mom to turn to my dad and ask, “Why can’t we have a car like this?” Parents duly visited, I drove to San Francisco where the QX50 served mainly as runabout on the steep, traffic-clogged hills for which the city is famous, and returned to L.A. in stress-free comfort.
Despite the fact that I’m still getting comfortable with vehicle electronics—I get a creeping Skynet feeling about them—the QX50 made for a relaxing trip. While I still prefer my old Detroit iron, this is a car I’d have no trouble adopting as a daily commuter.
|Our 2019 Infiniti QX50|
|MILES TO DATE||18,249|
|GALLONS OF FUEL||893.38|
|FUEL COST TO DATE||$3,523.97|
|RECALLS AND TSBs||None|
|OUT OF POCKET||None|
|ENGINE||2.0-liter turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4; 268 hp @ 5,800 rpm, 280 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV|
|EPA MILEAGE||24/30/26 mpg (city/highway/combined)|
|LxWxH||184.7 x 74.9 x 66 in|
|OUR OPTIONS||Sensory package, $7,500
Autograph package, $2,500
ProAssist package, $550
ProActive package, $2,000
Illuminated kick plates, $465
115-volt outlet, $150
Premium paint, $500
Welcome lighting, $425