The Infiniti QX50 has managed to help keep the luxury brand thriving alongside other crossovers and the large QX80 SUV. When it comes to a well-rounded compact crossover, the QX50 does mostly everything decent enough to warrant a close look for those in the market for such a vehicle. For the 2023 model year, Infiniti attempts to keep the QX50 relevant by offering up a new Sport trim level that replaces the Essentials trim but adds some welcomed sporty accents in the form of darkened trim, accents, badges, and painted 20-inch wheels. The dark accents go a long way to make the QX50 stand out a bit more and bring some desirable luxury amenities to the table, such as ventilated front seats, premium leather upholstery, traffic sign recognition, and a 360-degree surround-view camera system.
The 2023 Infiniti QX50 Sport is a sweet spot for value and a slightly unique look for compact crossovers. Though, one standout downfall with the QX50 continues to be its continuously variable transmission (CVT), which saps the fun and overall expected performance of such a vehicle. As I have said before, with the QX50 and its coupe-styled QX55 stablemate, the engine is excellent, touting 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. It is just that the CVT is slow to react to adjusting to the proper ratio upon an initial press of the accelerator, and it is very inconsistent about keeping things smooth to deliver decent power from the turbocharged 2.0-liter variable compression 4-cylinder engine.
There’s so much inconsistency in the transmission adapting to the engine’s power that you often find yourself smashing the accelerator to the point that it’s too much, and you end up backing off and readjusting throughout your quest to reach the proper speed. In all, the CVT is a mixed bag unless you’re accelerating at full throttle, where the CVT will aggressively step down several times with virtual gearing ratios and get the QX50 up to 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds. The CVT attempting to emulate a traditional automatic transmission doesn’t do much for me as the inconsistent performance tends to frustrate, especially at lower speeds when the gas pedal feels like it has a dead spot till you press it more than a quarter of the way to the floor.
I believe the QX50 would be such a better vehicle if it had a traditional automatic transmission, especially for those who are light-heated enthusiasts or just want to extract all that the otherwise remarkable engine offers. Thankfully, the ride quality and handling are decent to somewhat make up for the shortcoming of the CVT spoiling most of your fun. Though, the use of the CVT may benefit the fuel economy, getting 22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined in my all-wheel-drive (AWD) test vehicle in the real world. Still, there’s some room for improvement here.
There’s much I’ve said about the QX50 and QX55 for its positives and negatives in many past reviews, which hold true for the 2023 model year. The exception is that there is now a more desirable mid-level trim in the QX50 Sport, which I can recommend for those who look past the shortcomings of the CVT and some of its aged equipment, which mostly revolve around the gauge cluster and infotainment unit.
To elaborate on some positive aspects of the QX50, the interior is straightforward and somewhat inviting for the surprising use of its space. Being a compact crossover, the QX50 feels nimble at times but offers up a good amount of interior space and comfy seats with good driving positions. The heated and ventilated seats up front are exceptional for long trips and roomy for the vehicle’s classification. The rear seating areas are just large enough for most sized adults and have good support that limits the set in of fatigue.
The infotainment system, which has long been the choice for the QX50 and other Infiniti vehicles, shows its age a bit but remains functional to keep with today’s tech in having wireless integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The dual-touchscreen setup is simple after a short learning curve but could use some updating and polishing, possibly to be meshed into one larger touchscreen instead of two that are small for today’s tech standards.
At as-tested price of $52,815, the new Infiniti Q50 AWD Sport is just at the right level for attracting a large crowd of buyers with its desirable equipment, luxury-like appointments, and unique sporty bits to set it apart from other trim levels.