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  5. 2021 INFINITI QX50 Sensory AWD

Exterior view of the 2021 INFINITI QX50 Sensory AWD

For enthusiasts of a certain age, INFINITI will always be remembered for the 1989 commercial which served as its introduction.

The minimalist spot remains legendary, as it features light flickering on a body of water, a dulcet-tone voiceover, and a narrative which sounds more guided meditation than advertisement. What it notably doesn't show? Any kind of vehicle. It was a bold move for Nissan's nascent upscale brand, and serves as a reminder of just how innovative the Japanese bubble era was. 

Today, INFINITI is an established player in the automotive world. But the landscape is more dynamic than ever before, and since manufacturers can't compete without an offering in the red-hot compact SUV segment, I was curious to get behind the wheel of the latest QX50. Read on for a full review about my week with this stylish people mover! 

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2021 INFINITI QX50 Sensory AWD Exterior

Exterior view of the 2021 INFINITI QX50 Sensory AWD

There's no real point to pulling punches here. Because when it comes to vehicle platforms, the crossover isn't exactly the easiest one to make look cool. That said, INFINITI's design team did a bang-up job with the lines of the QX50.

In particular, the aggressive creases on the hood look fantastic. There's tons of flare and definition, but the sheet metal never looks too exaggerated or cartoon-like, even if you can see the pronounced hood bulges from inside the cabin. And while the INFINITI logo at the center of the grille is the diameter of a personal pizza, the grille itself is tastefully sized. Given how the acreage assigned to front-end cooling has ballooned in recent years, this alone is going to make some buyers give it a second look. The LED fog lights were a nice touch too.

My tester was fitted with chrome bodyside moldings, mirror caps, and a front lip finisher, and they looked great against the bottomless Hermosa Blue paint. The 20-inch wheels were standard issue, and the silver machined finish added some additional pop to the whole package.

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2021 INFINITI QX50 Sensory AWD Interior

Exterior view of the 2021 INFINITI QX50 Sensory AWD

While I'd personally be terrified to own any vehicle with a light-colored interior, the Wheat and Black combo of the QX50 looked trick. Some of the cabin appointments, like the window switches, were clearly borrowed from less-expensive Nissan models. But overall, the material quality was great, as was the fit and finish. I'm a sucker for metal speaker grilles, and the Bose-branded units here were complemented by flowing silver aluminum trim, which provided some additional high-end bling to the interior.

In the QX50, infotainment functions are handled by a twin-screen system. The lower unit, situated toward the bottom of the dash, allows access to the stereo and climate settings. Conveniently, there are redundant physical controls for the radio volume and creature comforts like the heated and cooled seats. As you'd expect on a vehicle in this price range, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hotspot are standard equipment. The upper screen is dedicated to navigation, and while some of the map icons looked a little dated, I found it easy to use. For example, zooming in and out is as intuitive as it is on any tablet.   

Importantly, the cabin is roomy, even for adults in the second row, and that spaciousness doesn't come at the expense of cargo capacity. There's 31.4 cubic-feet of storage behind the rear seats, and if you fold them down, there's 65.1 cubic-feet. For those keeping score, that's up there with the best in class.        

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2021 INFINITI QX50 Sensory AWD Performance

Exterior view of the 2021 INFINITI QX50 Sensory AWD

Under the hood, the QX50 features a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 260 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of twist, which sends power to all four corners via a CVT automatic transmission. While it wouldn't be accurate to say this vehicle is underpowered, the CVT doesn't feel quite as refined as a traditional automatic, even if it delivers impressive gas mileage.

The ride is composed over even the roughest of pavement, however, and the QX50 also delivered on the one of most important functions of a compact luxury crossover: urban maneuverability. Handling is sharp, natural visibility is excellent, and the 360-degree camera, which can be accessed by a physical button on the center console, is up there with the best in the business.    

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2021 INFINITI QX50 Sensory AWD Safety

Exterior view of the 2021 INFINITI QX50 Sensory AWD

The INFINITI QX50 does not currently have an overall score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety. For vehicles in its price range, that's not unusual.

The list of standard safety features is robust, however, and includes advanced technology like Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking, Rear Automatic Braking Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Warning, and Blind Spot Intervention. Every QX50 also gets helpful features like Adaptive Cruise Control, Automotive High Beams, and Traffic Sign Recognition. 

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2021 INFINITI QX50 Sensory AWD Overall

Exterior view of the 2021 INFINITI QX50 Sensory AWD

With its sharp exterior styling, lengthy list of standard features, and luxurious cabin, the QX50 will present a compelling choice for many buyers.

This is a vehicle that's designed to zip around the concrete jungle, and the excellent 360-degree camera makes navigating tight parking lots a breeze. Enthusiasts will likely think that engine and the chassis are better suited to a conventional automatic instead of a CVT, but many buyers will appreciate the better fuel economy the continuously variable unit provides.

The as-tested price for this vehicle was $54,920, including destination. To experience the QX50 for yourself, contact your local AutoNation INFINITI dealer to arrange a test drive.    

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John Coyle | Jun 04, 2021

2021 INFINITI QX50 Sensory AWD Specs


4-door, 5-passenger, AWD


Turbocharged 2.0L I4, 268 hp, 280 lb-ft
CVT automatic


22/28 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating


AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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