This week it feels like I’m getting a visit from an old friend who’s proved to be quite reliable over many years and is one who refuses to change their old way of doing things but always does them with a huge smile on their face. That’s what the new Infiniti QX55 feels like, a vehicle that has a charming look in its unique coupe-like styling but continues to use a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) and a rather aged infotainment setup potentially holding back greatness.
The 2023 Infiniti QX55 carries on without any changes from its introduction as a 2022 model year vehicle embarking on a unique path derived from its QX50 crossover sibling. In my 2022 model year review of the QX55, I attributed its faults to only a couple of areas whereas the rest of the QX55 was hopeful and had a lot of potential. This week is a quick reminder of such that rests with the QX55 being quite a good-looking and nicely positioned luxury compact crossover.
The Infiniti QX55, just like its QX50 platform stablemate, uses a decent engine, the 2.0-liter turbocharged variable compression inline-4-cylinder. The engine is unique and performs quite well making do with 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque sending power to all four wheels but with a front-wheel-drive bias setup. The engine is eager to spin and does so without fault apart from the single factor that holds it back being the CVT. Here, the QX55 is hindered by an annoying inconsistent delivery of power all at the fault of the CVT. The CVT is tuned to somewhat emulate a traditional geared automatic transmission and does so well at lower speeds or at full throttle inputs.
The power is very lumpy, and the use of the throttle is a constant battle as the power seems underwhelming at first but then as you go deep into the pedal there seems to be a surge of power that you didn’t exactly demand. In all, driving the QX55 smoothly in your application of power is a difficult task and you’ll end up walking away disappointed – not at a lack of power – but no way of delivering power consistently, and that’s unfortunate because the QX55 rides well and handles decently, and has a nice powerful 4-cylinder turbocharged engine.
If the engine was paired to a traditional automatic transmission the QX55 would be miles better for a more enjoyable driving experience and potentially have better performance.
Zero to 60 mph comes in around 6.5 seconds where the hinderance of sheer acceleration is from a standstill up until about 25 mph when things start to come alive with the CVT adjusting its nearly infinite gearing ratio to allow the decent engine to spin.
The fuel economy is somewhat decent with the EPA estimates of 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. However, I believe this is another area that may be improved upon if it were not for the inconsistencies of the CVT that interrupt a smooth delivery of power.
Infiniti has long been a traditionalist in the area of tech but their time of using the setup in the QX55 has run its course and its age is starting to show. The dual-screen infotainment unit setup with the two touchscreens, the top one being an 8-inch screen while the lower being a 7-incher, is somewhat easy to use but are not nearly as polished as many systems from competitors. The graphics look aged, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now have a wireless connection or can still be paired through USB but doesn’t look as high-resolution as they should through the top touchscreen.
Where the QX55 seems to make up for its aged shortcomings is through the comfy heated and ventilated front seats that feel like they lessen fatigue and keep you feeling refreshed on longer trips. The cabin also looks the proper part of a luxury theme with the accented stitching and many soft-touch surfaces throughout. While the interior is not up to par with many luxury competitors, it doesn’t feel cheap and exudes a decent level of quality.
Out back, the headroom is cut slightly short from the unique sloping roof design as is the cargo area, which are both down from the QX50. The benefit here is that I think the QX55 looks better than its QX50 sibling and is more suited for a luxurious theme.
There’s a plethora of active safety features that include the intelligent cruise control and ProPILOT Assist features (combining lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and radar cruise control), which seem to be more reliable than other vehicles in the reading of road lines and predicting and adapting to road turns. The 360-degree Around View Monitor camera system with moving option detection could use an update to improve upon its graphics as they tend to look a bit grainy, which may be the same low-resolution characteristic of the top touchscreen.
The 2023 Infiniti QX55 starts at $49,150, which is a lot more than the QX50 because it offers a higher trim level for its base version over the QX50. Overall, you’re paying a bit extra for the unique design, which again looks better than the QX50 to better fit that luxury theme as my QX55 Sensory test vehicle comes to about $59,000.