Infiniti's mid-range crossover model skipped the 2018 model year, and for good reason: there's an all-new design for 2019, and it brings with it some cool tech in the form of the industry's first variable compression ratio engine.
This turbocharged 2.0L uses trick connecting rods between its pistons and crankshaft to vary how aggressively it compresses the fuel/air mixture: less so to increase power output, and more in low-load situations in order to maximize economy.
In Infiniti's simplified terms, the engine is capable of the kind of power you'd expect from a turbo 2.0L (268 hp/280 lb-ft) while delivering the fuel economy of a four-cylinder diesel, with the manufacturer claiming the new QX50's is 30 percent more efficient than its predecessor.
That engine is a high-tech showcase that Infiniti is counting on to attract attention to its latest crossover, which competes in a highly-contested class dominated by vehicles like the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class and Acura RDX.
Appearance-wise, the QX50 follows on the look of the smaller QX30 that debuted for 2017. Where the old QX50 owed its tight interior to a RWD platform shared with the FX crossover and Nissan 370Z sports car, the restyled body is bolted to a new FWD that allowed designers to address the previous QX's tight cabin.
Infiniti calls out a new rear seat that slides fore and aft to favour either legroom or cargo space, the latter of which improves to 895 litres from the old car's 526. Sliding the new rear seat forward boosts trunk volume to 1,048 litres, while folding it down expands carrying capacity to 1,699 litres. Infiniti says rear-seat space is now better than in the BMW X3 or Audi Q5.
Improved occupant comfort is also promised by acoustic windshield and side window glass to reduce wind noise, and active engine mounts to cut the amount of mechanical vibration that gets inside.
The QX50's high-tech engine sends its power through a continuously variable transmission (replacing the old car's seven-speed automatic) to all four wheels. High-tech driver aids include Infiniti's ProPilot system, which helps the driver control acceleration, braking and steering during single-lane highway driving. Think of it as mild autonomy, as it leaves ultimate control to the driver while helping to reduce fatigue on long journeys.
This is also the first Infiniti crossover to get the company's steer-by-wire system, which allows for more subtle adjustments to steering feel. While it proved divisive in the Q50 sedan and Q60 coupe, where it was first employed, it should find better acceptance in this less driver-centric vehicle.