I’m kicking off the 2023 Ultimate Dad Car Search with a vehicle brand I’ve never driven. Infiniti. The upgraded luxury sibling to Nissan. I test-drove the Infiniti QX50 Sport, their luxury, compact SUV. I purposely did not read a single Infiniti QX50 review to make sure I didn’t influence my first impression. So, was the QX50 worthy of being called the 2023 Ultimate Dad Car? My family and I gave it a workout on a long ski weekend to find out. I knew next to nothing about Infiniti, so before we get into the nuts and bolts of this SUV review, let me share a little history.
A Speedy History of Nissan and Infiniti
There are many twists and turns to Nissan and Infiniti’s history. The company’s origins go back to 1914 in Japan. It was the same year Maserati started in Italy and Dodge started in America. The company was called Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works. Their first car was called the DAT, an acronym of the first letter in the last names of the three major investors.
The car was such a success, that in 1918 the company changed its name to DAT. Building on that success, the company designed a smaller version of the DAT and called the car the DATSUN (son of DAT). It wasn’t until 1933, after yet another name change, that the company landed on the name Nissan. However, when they started shipping vehicles to the United States in 1958, Nissan decided the name Datsun would resonate better with Americans. So, they changed their name yet again. So, why do we know the company as Nissan today?
Well, I heard this story from a business mentor years ago. He said that in the 1970s, Toyota and Honda began to surpass Nissan in global sales. The CEO of Nissan was jealous that there were more cars in the world with Toyota and Honda badges than his company. This was partially due to the company badging their American cars with Datsun and their cars in the rest of the world with Nissan. If they called all their cars Nissan, then they’d have a chance to have more cars in the world with their name than their competitors. Yep, it was ego. And it cost Nissan about $500 million dollars to change dealership signs, advertising campaigns, and of course, car branding. That price tag slowed the company’s growth for years and allowed Toyota and Honda to further their lead in the auto market.
But that all began to change in 1989 when Nissan introduced Infiniti, its luxury line of cars.
Where Does the QX50 Fit Into the Infiniti Line-Up?
Infiniti keep their line-up of cars simple. They have six total models. Two cars: the Q50 sedan and Q60 coupe; and four crossovers and SUVs. Their biggest and most expensive SUV is the QX80, which starts at about $73,000, and is the luxury version of the Nissan Armada. Then second largest SUV is the QX60, similar in size to the Nissan Pathfinder, and will run you about $50,000. Then comes the Infiniti QX55 starting at a little over $49,000. That’s the coupe version of the QX50, the smallest crossover in the Infiniti line-up and the vehicle that we’re looking at today. The QX50 is the more luxurious cousin to Nissan’s Rogue or Murano. Okay, enough of the QX50 backstory. Let’s get to the review already!
2023 Infiniti QX50 Sport Review
The Infiniti QX50 comes in five different trim levels. Nine if you include the AWD variations. I say it’s too many. I test-drove the QX50 Sport AWD, which is smack in the middle of the lineup. It’s the trim level Car and Driver recommends as the best the choice and the best value.
Watch the full Wilderdad review to see just how the Infiniti QX50 Sport performed on our ski weekend road trip:
Infiniti’s parent company Nissan has an impressive race history that’s often overlooked. Nissan won ten Sports Car Club of America championships from the 1960s to 1980s. And it was during this time that one of their most famous drivers rose to fame: Paul Newman. The one from The Color of Money, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, Cool Hand Luke. Yes, THE Paul Newman. He won four SCCA national championships in the 1970s to 1980s. The guy was no slouch and neither is the QX50. Here’s the full rundown of the QX50 specs:
Infiniti QX50 Sport Specs
268 HP turbo engine with a 4 cylinder, continuously variable transmission (CVT) and full-time all wheel drive
Zero to 60 mph: 6.4 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 17.3 sec
EPA FUEL ECONOMY:
Combined/city/highway: 25/22/28 mpg
Fuel tank: 16 gallons
INFINITI QX50 BASE PRICE:
$40,300 QX50 SPORT AWD (TEST MODEL) PRICE: $50,500
INFINITI QX50 SPORT PROS:
- Sporty exterior styling
- Good horsepower with a turbocharged engine
- Superior crash avoidance technology
- Competitive value over other luxury brands
INFINITI QX 50 CONS:
- Engine sounds weak and incapable
- Transmission noise when shifting is loud
- Despite turbo, feels sluggish and heavy
- Average fuel economy
Now let’s dig into the Infiniti QX50 car review a little deeper. Every car or truck I review is judged on 5 Ultimate Dad Car Factors: Comfort, Safety, Reliability, Environmental Friendliness, and last but definitely not least, Fun Factor. Each factor is scored on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the best. Let’s see how the QX50 fared.
Infiniti QX50 Sport
Comfort Score = 4 out of 5
The QX50 Sport’s interior is one of the highlights of the whole vehicle. While the exterior body style took a while to grow on me, the interior caught my attention immediately. The leather seats rock red paneling accents that make the car feel sportier. The front seats feature both heating and cooling controls and the steering wheel is heated too. My only complaint here is that you can only access the heated steering wheel function through the lower touchscreen panel. It would be so much more convenient if the control was actually placed on the steering wheel.
Anyway, carbon fiber detailing on the dash and doors adds to the overall sportiness of the interior. The 12-speaker Bose sound system is a nice touch. And the full-length panoramic sunroof with retracting shade is a major plus for the driving experience.
The QX50 fits five people easily. There’s a nice amount of leg room in the back seat for kids and adults (38.7 inches). And the cargo space is 31.1 cubic feet with the back seats up and 64.4 cubic feet with the back seats folded down. They say it’s enough to fit eight to ten modestly sized bags of luggage. I found it easy to pack ski and snowboard gear for three no problem. So, with all that in mind I give the QX50 a Comfort Score of 4 out of 5.
Infiniti QX50 Sport
Safety Score = 4 out 5
Now for the safety factor. The QX50 gets a 5-star crash test rating by the NHTSA. It’s got multiple airbags throughout the cabin, driver-assistance technology like lane departure warnings, and lots more safety features including:
- Infiniti dual-stage Advanced Air Bag System
- Driver and front-passenger side-impact air bags
- Rear side impact air bags
- Driver and passenger knee air bags
- Curtain air bags for front and rear protection
- Lower anchors and tethers for child seats
- Blind spot warning
- Intelligent blind spot intervention
- Predictive forward collision warning
- Lane departure warning
- Lane departure prevention
- Traction control system
It also gets a safety rating by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety of “good” for frontal crashes and “acceptable” for side crashes. It also gets a “superior” rating for front crash avoidance.
That leads me to give the QX50 a Safety score of 4 out of 5.
Infiniti QX50 Sport
Reliability Score = 3 out of 5
Now for the Reliability factor. J.D. Power & Associates gives the QX50 a predicted reliability score of 78 out of 100. That’s average. They consider a score of 100-91 to be best, 90-81 great, 80-71 average, and 70 and below to be just fair.
And Car Edge estimates it’ll cost a little over $10,000 in maintenance and repairs over 10 years. That’s about $5000 cheaper than most other luxury SUVs. That’s good. It means that the QX50 will won’t break the bank with repairs and should be a solid car.
But it’s worth noting that Car Edge also estimates the QX50 will lose over $20,000 in value within the first 5 years. Ouch. That may not technically affect the reliability of the QX50 but it definitely is a major knock against it.
Despite a good powertrain warranty from Infiniti of 6 years or 70,000 miles, I give the QX50 a Reliability score of 3 out of 5.
Infiniti QX50 Sport
Environmental Score = 3 out of 5
So, how environmentally friendly is the QX50? Just okay. It’s got a continuously variable transmission (CTV) that’s supposed to find the sweet spot of power and fuel economy. I didn’t find it to do either. The engine is powerful enough, but the CTV felt clunky and was loud during shifting.
And gas mileage was nothing special either. It’s rated to yield 22 miles per gallon in the city, 28 on highway, and 25 combined. After a week of driving a mix of highways, mountain roads, and around the city, I confirmed the estimate with an average of 25.2 miles per gallon.
The Infiniti QX50 gets a government greenhouse gas rating of 5 out of 10, and smog rating of 6 out of 10. Again, okay, but not great.
So, for the Ultimate Dad Car rating, I give the QX50 an Environmental score of 3 out of 5.
Infiniti QX50 Sport
Fun Factor Score = 3 out of 5
Okay, now for the Fun Factor. So, the family ski weekend was a ton of fun. It was blue skies and beautiful views the whole way up and back.
And it was extra fun since the QX50 has a 268 HP turbo engine with a 4 cylinder, and full-time all wheel drive. That’ll get you up to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. Definitely not a rocket, but it’s fast enough to be fun.
The QX50 has 4 drive modes that customize performance: personal, which let’s you set your preference, sport, standard, and eco. And I was thankful for its all-wheel drive system, which measures wheelspin, throttle input, and road conditions to send up to 50% of available power to the rear wheels for better traction. So it performed really well in the snow.
All in all, the QX50 was a solid road trip car so I give it a Fun Factor score of 3 out of 5.
Ultimate Dad Car Total Score: 17 out of 25
Alright, so when we total everything up and the 2023 Infiniti QX50 Sport gets an Ultimate Dad Car score of 17 out of 25. Not enough to win the title of Ultimate Dad Car, but still a solid car.
No doubt you get a lot of value for the money. Probably more than its BMW, Audi, and Acura competitors. So, it checks a lot of boxes but doesn’t really go above and beyond that.
Will you fall in love with it? Honestly, I didn’t. Will you feel like you got a good deal on a luxury crossover? 100% yes. I can say that I was impressed with the QX50 Sport overall, especially for the price tag. You’d be hard pressed to find a $50,000 luxury car with as many features.
But if you’re still not sold, no problem. I’ve got lots more cars to review.
Until next time, I hope to see you out on the road in my search for the Ultimate Dad Car.
Want more car reviews? Take a look at the uber-luxurious 2022 Mercedes AMG GLE 53 Coupe. It packs a punch with 429 horsepower and 0-60 acceleration of a mere 5.2 seconds. See all the photos here: https://wilderdad.com/mercedes-amg-gle-53-coupe-review/