Behind the Wheel

2020 Infiniti QX50 Review: Luxe SUV hits and misses as competition strengthens

Infiniti has admitted that it made mistakes when it launched the redesigned QX50 luxury midsize SUV in January 2018. The right packages and options were not in place to give the model the success it deserved. However, in the year since its launch, the landscape has changed.

The Acura RDX has been redesigned as an agile and athletic daily driver, Audi introduced the SQ5 model giving sportiness to the family-friendly Q5 SUV, and the Volvo XC60 has made a strong argument for attention with a redesign. Lincoln has also introduced the Corsair, which is perhaps the QX50's biggest competition.

2020 Infiniti QX50 The models looks haven't changed much since it debuted in 2018.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.

The QX50 is a comfortable cruiser. It's not particularly engaging nor is it altogether peppy but it is capable. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that achieves 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, the SUV does everything it's supposed to without protest.

The SUV rides smoothly and doesn't pass on much road noise to the cabin.

The car steers accurately if a bit numbly but it is easy to drive, especially when equipped with ProPilot Assist, Nissan's suite of drive assistance and safety technology that includes a lane centering functionality when using cruise control. The technology makes long drives less of a chore while also keeping the car centered when the driver exhibits distracting behavior like drinking a sip of coffee or changing the radio station.

Switching from a SUV with ProPilot Assit to one with standard cruise control is a quick reminder of how good the system is. Buyers should opt for models with the technology if they can afford it.

Steering wheel The seats of the Infiniti QX50 are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.

Journalists who review the QX50 are likely to call its infotainment system dated. They're used to having the latest, greatest, and most innovative products at their fingertips. However, buyers coming from cars over three years old will likely see the QX50's two-screen infotainment system as a step up from what they currently have in their driveway. The controls of the system are easy to use despite the fact that the navigation screen isn't able to be easily read while driving.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the model, as are blind spot warning, forward collision warning, and forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Moving up from the $38,000-ish QX50 base model to the mid-grade QX50 Essential $44,000 gets buyers heated seats, a panoramic moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, Around View Monitor, power sunshade, LED fog lamps, and roof rails. It is in this configuration that the QX50 hits the right balance between features, power, capability, luxury features, and price. The QX50 tops out near $60,000.

Dual screen infotainment system Infiniti is one of the few companies that offers a dual-screen infotainment system.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.

If a stranger were to approach on the street and ask if the QX50 is a "good car," it would be easy to answer with, "yes." It's not a vehicle meant for sporty drivers looking for zippy ride around town. It's comfortable, capable, and priced right for the average premium compact SUV buyer coming out of an aging model.

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The 2021 BMW 4 Series has the drive dynamics BMW enthusiasts will love.

Photo courtesy of BMW

A lot has been said about the looks of the 2021 BMW 4 Series. At its absolute worst, the car is a sleek-bodied rabbit. At its best, it's a dynamic driver that doesn't look as bad if you choose colors and packages that make the grille blend in with the body a bit. Either way, the 2021 BMW M440i is a good drive.

With a starting price of $58,500, the all-wheel drive version of the M440i is solidly in the luxury category. It has more generous proportions than its predecessor but as a coupe, the parts that truly matter are the cargo space and the head- and legroom for front seat passengers. Both are excellent.

The M440i is the upgraded version of the 4 Series that slots between the traditional 430i and 430i xDrive. As such, it has BMW's twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder under the hood that's capable of reaching 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The car can get from zero to 60 is a zippy 4.3 seconds in a smooth fashion, which handy when you're working your way between highway lanes trying to get around snowbirds that don't use turn signals on Florida's highways.

2021 BMW 4 Series The car delivers pointed handling on highways, back roads, and city streets.Photo courtesy of BMW

The car has mild-hybrid technology, an engineering achievement that puts connects a 48-volt battery with the rest of the powertrain to give drivers immediate access to power off the line while saving on fuel. BMW traditionally does a great job seamlessly implementing this tech and the M440i is no exception.

BMW loaded up the model used for the test run with nearly $13,000 in extras - the paint job alone was near an additional $2,000. That numbers includes a few packages. The Drivers Assistance Professional Package ($1,700) gets a buyer traffic jam assist and Driving Assistant Pro technology. The $3,700 Executive Package adds a lot of the things you'd think would already come standard on a $50,000+ vehicle like heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, ambient lighting, a head-up display, and upgraded headlights.

The M Adaptive Suspension ($700) nicely balanced the car's on-road prowess, agility, and bump absorption. The upgraded disc brakes worked steadily without feeling grabby allowing the accelerator to be put close to the floor with confidence. Steering was, as BMW so often executes in its sedans, pointed and connected, a formula that aids in the enjoyment of time behind the wheel.

2021 BMW 4 Series This model features BMW's signature cognac leather interior.Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW is really good at designing one-size-fits-all solutions for the cabins of their vehicles and the M440i is no exception. While it creates an annoying feeling of sameness, it does allow the car's buttons, dials, switches, and knobs to nearly always be found in the same place. It's a little like coming home from vacation and standing in your own kitchen and knowing where all the dishes are without having to open multiple cabinets.

At the center of the dash is a 10.25-inch touch screen while a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster sits in front of the driver. The BMW infotainment system is pretty responsive. Whether or not you like the rotary controller is a personal preference thing, but putting biases aside, it's hard to complain about how much easier it is to use than the Lexus touch pad. There is a downside, however. The font and layout choices on the instrument panel look like they were chosen by elementary school children. Huge numbers and sweeping black space take some getting used to. After about 300 miles, I still wasn't used to it.

The sameness factor carries over to the M440i's safety systems where the adaptive cruise control tech's insistence that a passing road sign is the correct speed you should be going is enough to cause frustration at best, and at the worst, a rapid slow down that could endanger those around you and yourself.

2021 BMW 4 Series The 2021 BMW 4 Series carries over typical BMW design into the cabin.Photo courtesy of BMW

The 2021 BMW M440i xDrive Coupe is a good car, with plenty of caveats that keep it from being great car. It's a vehicle for people who really want to drive it and don't mind the way it looks because they don't see that angle on a regular basis.

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The 2022 Honda Civic Sedan will be made in Canada.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

The 11th-generation Honda Civic has arrived, bringing with it a toned down exterior appearance compared to the 10th-generation model, but a funkier interior. The Civic has been the top choice for first-time American buyers, Millennials, Gen Z, and multicultural customers since 2015.

With the new Civic, designers wished to give the car a more planted appearance. This was achieved by moving the A-pillars forward nearly two inches, elongating the hood, and visually connecting the pillar to the front wheel hub. The low cowl hides the windshield wipers allowing better forward visibility. Additionally, the outside mirrors have been positioned away from the windshield pillars.

2022 Honda Civic Sedan Sport

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

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Honda's team has also widened the track of the car, emphasizing the new dimensions with stronger shoulders, wide-set LED taillights, and a more aerodynamic trailing edge of the trunk lid. Headlights, daytime running lights, parking lights, and available fog lights all utilize LED lights.

Suspension improvements, a 1.4-inch longer wheelbase, and lessened noise, vibration, and harshness contribute to the Civic's better ride generation-over-generation and more dynamic drive capabilities.

Honda plans to sell the Civic Sedan in eight paint jobs, including three new ones: Meteorite Gray Metallic, Sonic Gray Pearl, and Morning Mist Blue Metallic.

Honda will sell the new Civic with the same powertrains that were in the 2021 model: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 1.5-liter turbo-four. Both are paired with a continuously variable transmission. Though they are the same engine, Honda tells that power deliver, engine sound, overall refinement, and fuel economy ratings have been improved. The 1.5-liter has also gotten a power boost.

Normal and Eco drive modes are standard. A Sport mode is available in some models.

The best fuel economy comes from the Civic EX, which gets an EPA-estimated 33 mpg in the city, 42 mpg on the highway, and 36 mpg combined.

The car's changeover includes design and technology refreshes and additions in the interior as well. The car's instrument panel has been designed with minimal cutlines to improve windshield reflections and visual distractions. There's new honeycomb mesh stretched from door to door across the dashboard that encompasses air vents under one harmonious look.

Product planners have paid special attention to the touch points of the new Civic, ensuring that high-quality and practical materials abound. For example, there's new premium center console trim specifically designed to hide fingerprints and smudges to help maintain a high-end appearance.

2022 Hodna Civic Sedan Touring

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

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Honda has enhanced the car's front seat design, introducing next-gen seat framing that firmly holds the body in place, enhancing comfort on long trips.

Much of the Civic's technology is similar to what you'll find in the 2021 Honda Accord. Civic LX, Sport, and EX grades get a seven-inch LCD instrument display that puts the all-digital speedometer and tachometer on the left side of the panel while the physical speedometer dial is on the right.

In the top-level Touring trim, Civic gets a fully digital instrument panel that measures 10.2 inches. Here, drivers can choose between having their speedometer and tachometer displayed as a dial or a bar graph that flanks the screen. In the middle is a variety of user-selectable information, such as the current music selection and a trip computer, with the center of the display used to indicate the status of various Honda Sensing safety and driver assist systems. The brake lights, headlights, and turn signals of the displayed Civic vehicle image turn on and off with those functions.

Civic LX, Sport, and EX get a standard seven-inch infotainment touch screen that comes complete with ta volume/power knob and tuning/selection knob. There's a row of hard buttons below the screen that perform skip, audio menu, and audio source functions. Civic Touring gets a nine-inch infotainment touch screen with similar buttons and knobs.

Honda has included a slight finger rest area below the screen to make selection easier. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Civic Touring comes standard with wireless charging capability and a custom-tuned, 12-speaker Bose audio system.

The 2022 Civic will be the first car in the world to have Honda's next-generation airbags for both front row passengers. The passenger airbag is designed to expand and wrap around the head and shoulders of the parties for a brief moment upon impact disallowing spinning and twisting of the neck, head, and shoulders, and lessening the impact of knocks to the upper body. The donut-shaped driver's airbag performs a similar function.

The automaker's upgraded suite of Honda Sensing active safety and driver assist technologies now uses a single camera system that provides a wider field of view than the previous radar-and-camera-based system. More powerful computer processing speeds and fresh obstacle and road sign detection abilities make the system more accurate and quicker to respond than before.

Honda Sensing also has added traffic jam assist functionality and more natural steering action when using lane keep assist. Low speed braking control has been added for 2022.

The 11th-generation will be produced in Alliston, Ontario, Canada, and for the first time, the Civic Hatchback will be manufactured in the U.S., at the company's Greensburg, Indiana plant. All Civic production in North American will use domestic and globally-sourced parts.

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