|Positives: The most attractive crossover in the Infiniti stable, much-improved infotainment system, schmancy interior.|
|Negatives: Mismatched engine and transmission, not thrilling to drive, cheap-feeling ride, poor ergonomics and controls.|
|Bottom Line: The QX55 falls short of its mark in the driving department. While it looks amazing, the vehicle's transmission, ride, and steering get three big demerits. You're better off with the QX50, which is bigger, smoother, and less fussy.|
When the looks of a car make you think it'll be a great driving experience, it's easy to be disappointed. The QX55 has some big FX35 shoes to fill, and it falls short of the mark in more ways than one. We're still not sure what the brand was thinking when it gave the 268-hp QX55 a continuously variable transmission. The result is less than impressive, bordering on tremendous disappointment.
Ride Quality: It's too bad the QX55 doesn't feel especially sporty or luxurious in the ride department. The rigid chassis and sporty suspension result in an unsettled ride.
Acceleration: The lack of smooth acceleration due to the finicky CVT paired with a potent 268-hp engine provides a jerky experience. It lunges forward with an aggressive throttle tip-in and then has trouble finding any semblance of a sweet spot. 0-60 comes in about 6.4 seconds, which isn't especially quick for the segment. The 248-hp BMW X4 does it in 6.1 seconds and has less horsepower and torque than the QX55.
Braking: The brakes in the QX55 do a respectable job of bringing it to a stop.
Steering: The drive-by-wire system in the QX55 is a disappointment. It feels to artificial and misses the mark when it comes to feedback.
Handling: The body roll is manageable and on the taut side, but its lack of road feel and the jerky transmission don't do it any favors.
The last-gen Infiniti set of technology was less than great. It was dated, hard to use, ugly to view, and generally poor to control. The updated software, screen, and buttons are much better, but it still has a long way to go.
Infotainment System: We're still not sure why there's a need for two screens, aside from providing the ability to control two screens without swapping menus. You're really better off running all functions via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto from the top screen and forgetting about the bottom screen. It still doesn't look great, either, and competitors like BMW and Mercedes trump the QX55 in terms of graphics.
Controls: We really hate how there are two columns of HVAC buttons that flank the lower screen. It's confusing and unnecessary.
The latest models from Infiniti have headed in the right direction, and it's good to see the brand steering away from dated styles like the Q70 and the old QX60. The QX55 is one of the best with its muscular and taut styling. The interior is good but not great, and it doesn't match the exterior's handsome details.
Front: Infiniti's branded grille has come a long way. The frame is less extreme, and the mesh has become more sophisticated with its pattern. We love the way the top corners of the grille blend beautifully with the LED DRLs.
Rear: Were these taillights stolen off an Aston Martin? The winged effect is eye-catching, and the muscular rear haunches add the athleticism of the original FX35.
Profile: The QX55 resembles so many of its counterparts with the sloped roofline and the thick front end. It's not especially unique, but the QX55 is good-looking crossover with short front and rear overhangs, and a tall beltline.
Cabin: The interior is much better than the last generation of Infinitis. The QX55 has the same cabin as the QX50 on which it's based, and that's a good thing. We do love the elegant door trim inside, as well as the good materials. We just wish they'd revamp the center console for better ergonomics.
The interior is surprisingly spacious despite the loss of higher roofline from the QX50. There's actually a fair amount of room for rear passengers, and materials quality overall is very good.
Front Seats: The seats get Zero Gravity-like cushioning from its Nissan siblings, and that makes for very good levels of comfort. Seat adjustability is good, as is the driving position.
Rear Seats: You lose a little bit of headroom, and the seats are a bit on the hard side, but legroom is good. The second row also slides fore and aft.
Visibility: Sightlines out the rear side windows is poor due to the raked rear roofline and thick pillars. The short hood helps you negotiate tight spots in parking lots.
Climate: The climate system could be better. We drove it in hot weather, and the QX55 suffers from mediocre air flow.
The QX55 has not yet been crash tested by the IIHS, but it did score very well with the federal government in limited testing. It does have a good set of standard safety features that should provide some peace of mind for buyers.
IIHS Rating: Not tested.
NHTSA Rating: The QX55 earned a full five stars from the federal government in frontal crash tests. It was not tested in side impacts and rollover situations.
Standard Tech: Our tester came standard with Front & Rear Parking Sensors, Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist, ProPILOT Assist Steering Assist, Intelligent Cruise Control with full speed range and stop and hold, Head-Up Display. Traffic Sign Recognition, and the Adaptive Front Lighting System.
Optional Tech: None.
The QX55 is mostly about style, as can easily be seen by the fact that it's a chopped version of the larger QX50. No would would willingly give up on practicality without getting something in return. That said, the QX55 is fair to middling when it comes to storage and cargo space. It's the price for being fancy looking.
Storage Space: The front row doesn't have much in the way of practical small item storage.
Cargo Room: The QX55 is down on cargo space with 26.9 cubes behind row two and 54.1 cubes with the seats folded flat. The bigger QX50 gets 31.4 and 65.1, respectively. The Audi Q5 Sportback provides 24.7 cubic feet behind row two and 53.1 with the seats folded flat. The QX55 isn't much different from other members in this sporty segment.
Gas mileage isn't impressive or devastatingly poor. We'd have to say the CVT doesn't seem to want to do the QX55 any favors. The combined EPA estimates are just ok at 25 mpg. Our mostly local driving resulted in lower than EPA estimates, but the QX55 shouldn't have a problem meeting its numbers.
Observed: 21.4 mpg.
Distance Driven: 105 miles.
The Bose 16-speaker Performance Series Audio came as standard equipment on our Sensory tester. It's a good system that delivers clean, crisp sound, but it could use more bass and midrange punch.