|✓ Classy styling inside & out||☓ Tech is there, but not spectacular|
|✓ Solid handling||☓ Frustrating powertrain (CVT)|
|✓ Comfortable||☓ Needs an infotainment upgrade yesterday|
|✓ Reasonably quick (But…)|
2022 Infiniti QX55: Overview
There’s one reason — and one reason only — folks are taking to these “coupe-like” SUVs: style. If the 2022 Infiniti QX55 falls at the first hurdle on looks, it has no chance.
This coupe-ish crossover takes on the likes of the Audi Q5 Sportback, BMW X4 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe, but can it beat the Germans at their own game? In all those cases, I’ve always preferred the more practical SUV, both on style and substance. But the 2022 Infiniti QX55, honestly, may be the first in this genre to actually win me over, to where I’d actually prefer it over its standard CUV counterpart.
If you are tempted to take the plunge, though, keep this in mind: The new QX55 kicks off at $47,525 (including destination). That’s for the entry-level “Luxe” model, and $7,500 more than the QX50. This top-of-the-line Sensory, as equipped, tops out at $60,045.
Sticking with style
First impressions count for a lot, and that’s where the QX55 hits right off the bat. Based on the more practical QX50, this well-sculpted crossover carries an elegance I’ve struggled to see with its European rivals. The curves, character lines and patterns designers baked in here offer some drama without being too aggressive. Huge grilles and wheels, massive tires and shouty “look at me” front ends appeal to some, I know, but Infiniti’s crossover is just plain handsome.
It’s mostly a similar story with the interior. With this Sensory, at least, you get maple wood trim, pleasing black and Monaco Red leather accents with semi-aniline seats (Graphite black and Stone gray are other color options) and silver brightwork to take in. It all looks exceptional, and while there are a few misses — I’ll get to the dual infotainment screens in a moment — the 2022 Infiniti QX55 definitely has one of the nicest-looking interiors in its class.
Comfort, technology & convenience: A mixed bag
Another strength with Infiniti’s compact crossovers: comfort. Even with the standard 20-inch wheels, the QX55 offers a tranquil, soothing experience. Not only is the ride well tuned toward comfort, but Nissan’s zero-gravity seat design really does make for a great opportunity to just soak up the scenery, rather than Colorado’s appallingly bumpy roads.
Despite the coupe-like roof design, the rear seats are also surprisingly comfortable. You still get a decent amount of headroom, and the seats also recline should you need a bit more space. When you need cargo volume instead, they fold nearly flat, offering up 54.1 cubic feet of space. When they’re in place, you get 26.9 cubic feet. That winds up about 15-20% less than the QX50, but it’s still more accommodating than the Audi Q5 Sportback, BMW X4 or Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe.
On the technology front, the 2022 Infiniti QX55 nearly has everything you’d want. ProPilot Assist comes standard on the Sensory, while it’s available as part of the $1,600 ProActive Package on the Essential. That adds in features like adaptive cruise control and lane centering assist to offer hands-on, semi-autonomous driving capability. In this top-end trim, you also get Distance Control Assist (part of an $800 ProAssist package on Essential) and the usual suite of standard safety gear. On this top-end Sensory model, you even get a 16-speaker Bose Performance Series sound system — and it packs some punch when you want to crank up your music.
Overall, the only feature the QX55 really lacks is a fully digital instrument cluster. Honestly, the information screen tells you most of what you’d want to know, and the analog gauges at least spare you the frustration of setting up the full-screen displays exactly how you want them, especially while you’re on the road.
More on the (dated) infotainment system
As for the infotainment system, again, it’s all there…but it’s far from spectacular. The InTouch system uses two displays — an 8-inch upper display and a 7-inch lower display. You do get Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, which always occupies the upper screen, but as for the lower screen? Not only does it feel dated in terms of layout and graphics, but I never found anything it displayed particularly useful when Apple CarPlay is hooked up. With all the physical buttons for the climate controls and seats out on the sides, you fortunately don’t have to interact with the screen too often if you don’t want to.
Mind you, this system is a leftover from a bygone era, and Infiniti fortunately knows that because they’ve designed it out of the newer QX60 crossover. Even the flagship QX80 dumped the dual-screen setup for the 2022 model year, so here’s to hoping we’ll get that massively improved setup on the QX50/QX55 soon.
Performance: Bring in the ‘VC-Turbo’
The 2022 Infiniti QX55 has a really cool — if complex — piece of engineering under the hood: a 2.0-liter variable compression turbocharged engine. I’ll leave it to more qualified individuals, like our friend Jason Fenske over at Engineering Explained, to actually show how it works, if you’re interested. Nevertheless, the headline figures here are 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. It’s definitely a respectable figure in the class, and it definitely feels peppy in certain driving conditions*.
In itself, the engine is eager to respond to your commands with gusto. That’s the point of this design, after all. The VC-Turbo can shift its compression ratio between 8:1 and 14:1, essentially offering two experiences in one — better performance by running on the lower end, and better fuel economy by using a leaner fuel/air ratio on the higher end. The only bit of strangeness comes in how it sounds: the noise sounds remarkably odd when you put your foot down, and that noise is amplified by the car’s sound enhancement system, for better or worse.
How it feels in real-world driving
The asterisk comes in with the continuously variable transmission. Look, I don’t automatically hate CVTs on principle — I get their application in pursuit of better fuel economy. In certain pairings (like the Honda Civic), they’re not bad, even if I’d still prefer a torque-converter automatic. But the mannerisms of a turbocharged engine with variable compression and a variable transmission means everything has to line up for this car to feel as punchy as the on-paper specs suggest it is.
At best, it’s inconsistent. Floor it, and you’ll feel the performance fall off a cliff as the revs constantly bounce around. Be more ginger, and the turbo won’t spool up to really give you that grunt. At worst, that roller coaster between surges and dips is downright frustrating. I found the best way to get this car off the line is to stay at about quarter throttle, but should it really require that much thought?
Infiniti’s Direct Adaptive Steering is good in theory, “meh” in practice
I’ll be blunt here: I can’t stand this feature in the Q50 and Q60 Red Sport 400. If you have what’s ostensibly a 400 horsepower sports car with a steering column that isn’t even physically connected to the front wheels, well…”vague” hardly even begins to describe it. Direct Adaptive Steering system basically puts a computer between you and the actual steering — something the automaker says is a benefit by “automatically adjusting and digitally enhancing driver steering input up to 1,000 times per second”. Great in theory, and you do get quick turn-in, but in practice?
This car obviously doesn’t carry the same sporty pretensions as its more powerful cousins. That said, the QX55’s feedback ranges anywhere between disappointing and non-existent, and that’s a shame. Otherwise, you could make better use of the car’s excellent all-wheel drive system. The car hangs on well in corners, but because of the numb steering I could never really enjoy the moment as I pulled out of a corner.
The QX55’s fuel economy is decent
As you’d expect with a small turbo four-pot and a CVT, fuel economy sits right in the mid-20 mpg range. If you’re light-footed, you can stretch that out to about 28 mpg on the highway, while you’ll get 22 mpg in the city, according to EPA figures. I managed about 25 mpg in mixed driving, and you can improve matters by using the Eco drive mode.
Switching to the most fuel-conscious setting through the console-mounted drive mode switch engages “Eco Pedal”, which will provide some more feedback to your right foot, making the pedal progressively stiffer as you press downward. It’s more helpful than effectively killing the throttle response as other cars do, and the QX55 does manage at least slightly better fuel economy than its main rivals.
Verdict: A stunning (but flawed) crossover
So, balancing everything out, should you give the 2022 Infiniti QX55 a chance? I came into this experience hoping the car would impress as a sort of plucky underdog. It’s no secret that the automaker faces an uphill battle in the larger automotive field, as it continues to slide in the sales charts while its rivals (namely BMW) gain ground.
If you’re looking for the last word in technology or a truly sporty driving experience, however, Infiniti’s coupe-like offering is not the top of the heap. Unfortunately for the QX55, rivals from all sides (including Germany, Japan and Korea) pull off both sportiness and next-generation gadgetry better than what Infiniti offers. Mind you, we are talking about a segment that includes the recently refreshed Acura RDX and Genesis GV70, so the competition is always going to be fierce. Despite the novel engine, the new QX55 just doesn’t bring enough new ideas to the table to win in most areas.
The crossover’s styling does win major points, so if you’re in the market for a good-looking and comfortable crossover, the QX55 is worth your consideration.