One-Day Drive

First Drive: 2022 Infiniti QX55 is a stylish puzzle missing a high-tech piece

The 2022 Infiniti QX55 is a solid offering, but is it good enough to keep up with the competition?

Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Have you ever worked on a puzzle for days only to get to the end and realize that you're missing a piece or two? That's exactly how it feels to be behind the wheel of the 2022 Infiniti QX55.

Billed as the spiritual successor to the Infiniti FX, the QX55 proves that marketing speak doesn't always translate to real life results. Instead, Infiniti's "demand center stage" tagline is more appropriate for the model. It's an SUV for people who like to be seen in certain vehicles.

The exterior of the QX55 is all Infiniti with a giant double-arch grille, bulbous hood creases, and sleek side styling. Its best looking features are at the back where wing-like taillamp, made up of 45 individual LED bulbs, flank the car highlighting its premium appeal.

2022 Infiniti QX55The SU's stylish rear turns heads. Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

With a Dynamic Sunstone Red paint job, the QX55 is striking. It literally tuned heads in parking lots and on the street while on a lengthy test drive.

Under the hood of the QX55 is the same four-cylinder VC-Turbo engine that's in the QX50. It is paired with a continuously variable transmission that makes 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. The powertrain is perfectly capable but not inspiring. Standard all-wheel drive gives drivers confidence.

Of the four drive modes, Standard allows to be little too comfortable wobbling in its lane. Sport mode does tighten up the mechanics and delivers shorter shifts, but it falls short of a truly sporty drive experience. Switching to Eco mode is best left to times when you're sitting in traffic.

2022 Infiniti QX55The interior of the QX55 is very similar to the one in the QX50. Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

The interior of the QX55 is basically the same as what is in the QX50. In today's premium market, that's not good enough. The materials that make up the cabin appear high quality but not luxurious. Fit and finish is good.

Let's address the elephant in the room - the dual-screen (one 7-inch and one 8-inch) infotainment system. Though it was billed as the new-generation Infiniti InTouch system when it debuted in the 2020 QX50, the system's already-dated appearance and the screens' resolution has quickly put Infiniti behind the eight ball. The menus aren't arranged for easy use and the screens are slow to respond to inputs.

Thankfully wireless Apple CarPlay, a first for an Infiniti product, is available to fill the void. There's also four USB ports, which allow for easy charging when necessary.

Seating in the QX55 is comfortable. There is a good amount of rear-seat legroom and the front seats.

2022 Infiniti QX55Wireless Apple CarPlay is standard on the model. Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Cargo room isn't anything to write home about, but it is good enough for the average owner.

Infiniti equipped the tester with ProPilot Assist safety and driver assist technology. The system is one of the best parts about the SUV and makes driving distances on the highway easier. The tech works exactly as it does in the Nissan Rogue and other Nissan vehicles.

The premium automaker has included a number of standard features in the QX55 that are usually gotten for an extra charge like all-wheel drive, heated front seats, a power-sliding tinted glass moonroof, active noise cancellation technology, 20-inch wheels, wireless Apple CarPlay, a power liftgate, Wi-Fi hot spot, and a long roster of safety features including high beam assist, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic alert.

Infiniti sells the QX55 in three trim levels: Luxe, Essential, and Sensory. The SUV has a starting MSRP of $46,500. The QX55 Essential comes in at $51,600 and the Sensory model is priced at $57,050. A few packages are available that bump up the cost of each model by a thousand dollars or so. Destination and handling charges add another $1,025 to the total.

2022 Infiniti QX55There's plenty of cargo space in the QX55 for the average family. Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

To put it plainly, the Infiniti QX55 isn't any better than its closest competition. The Acura RDX stands out compared to the QX55 for its engaging drive, gobs of cargo space, and modern infotainment system, as well as its all-in price that's just $2,000 more than the starting price of the QX55.

Lincoln has given its 2021 Nautilus a new, elegantly refined interior and an available powerful V6 engine that delvers 335 horsepower. It starts at just $41,490.

Buick has redesigned its Envision for the 2021 model year giving the model an upgraded level of sophistication though its engine falls into line with what the Infiniti offers, but at a far lower price. It has a starting MSRP of $31,800.

The Lexus RX is also healthy competition for the model, especially because it comes in a hybrid variant and the QX55 does not. The Land Rover Range Rover Evoque is a more capable off-roader. The RS starts at $45,170 while the Evoque comes in at $43,300.

Infiniti has designed the QX55 to be attractive. It's easy to see how customers who like the Nissan Murano may be persuaded to choose the QX55 when they are ready for their next model.

The Infiniti doesn't go far enough. It isn't fun enough to drive. It isn't innovative enough. It isn't stylish enough. It doesn't have enough to pull customers away from other models if they're cross-shopping without bias. It will be up to Infiniti dealers to make the case of the car.

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New subcompact crossover

Honda announces freshened HR-V for 2023

The new HR-V is based on the Civic.

Honda

With the release of the all-new Civic and its performance variants, Honda's lineup grew more exciting this year. Even so, the automaker can't forget about its bread and butter models, which in the United States means SUVs. Its smallest, the HR-V, is getting an overhaul for 2023 with fresh styling and a more responsive powertrain. Honda hasn't elaborated on pricing or given out an exact release date for the HR-V, but we know the SUV is coming this summer.

2023 Honda HR-VThe new HR-V gets fresh styling and a more responsive powertrain.Honda

The 2023 HR-V gets a new grille with a longer hood and sweeping roofline. Honda notes that the new HR-V is based on the Civic, so while we don't have full powertrain and tech details for the new SUV, we can draw some inferences from that information. The new Civic comes standard with a 158-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a CVT, which would be a reasonable choice for the HR-V. As it did in the Civic, the base will likely also bring a lively driving experience and confident handling to the HR-V.

2023 Honda HR-VThe HR-V will hit the streets this summer.Honda

Honda says the HR-V features a large greenhouse with door-mounted mirrors and a low cowl for better visibility. LED headlights and tail lights are standard, and the new rear-end design features a more rounded, grown-up shape than the previous model.

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What was your best car-related experience this year?

Chris Teague

This year has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been boring. Even if we focus only on the car world, there's plenty to talk about, from microchip-related new vehicle shortages to the wave of new electric vehicles hitting the market. That leaves us with a question for all of you: What was the best or most memorable car moment for you in 2021? I'll get the conversation started.

Porsche Cayenne GTSMy SoCal Cayenne śaw snow for the first time in its nearly 200k-mile life last week.Chris Teague

I'd spent a good portion of 2021 wanting a new-old car to drive when I wasn't testing a new vehicle. That's harder than you'd think for someone who thinks, talks, and writes about cars all day, because there are so many interesting, risky, and downright funky options out there in every price range. The added headache for me was that I'd chosen to shop for a "fun" car in one of the most volatile car markets ever seen. Even the extremely high-mileage "untouchable" European cars I wanted to buy were commanding ridiculous prices.

After a solid few months of waffling between various rattletrap Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi S/RS cars, I landed on an option that had escaped me before: The Porsche Cayenne. First-generation Cayennes are a real bargain now, but the 955/957 (Porsche's internal code for the SUVs) can experience major problems that occur with or without regular maintenance and care. I was determined to buy one, and wasn't overly concerned about mileage, as long as I could count the number of owners on one hand. There was a beautiful 2009 Cayenne GTS with 90,000 miles but nine owners, a gorgeous 2004 Cayenne Turbo with a concerning engine tick, and many more just like them. Finally, I decided to risky-click a 196,000-mile Cayenne GTS in Southern California. It had one owner and one dealer-owner for a month or two prior to sale, its condition looked decent in photos, and I was able to negotiate a reasonable enough price that shipping it from San Diego to Maine wasn't a huge problem.

Porsche Cayenne GTSThe pics look great, but hands-on tells another story.Chris Teague

I had two traveling Euro mechanics check the car out, and both confirmed that it was well-worn but mechanically sound, so I jumped. Ten days later, on a snowy, icy, dark Maine afternoon, the Cayenne arrived. Cosmetically, there were a few things the dealer and mechanics failed to mention, but overall, it looked good. The SUV passed Maine safety and emissions testing without problem, got a new set of Michelins, and I was on my way.

Porsche Cayenne GTSI'm in danger, but thankfully this should be a reasonable fix.Chris Teague

A few days of driving revealed what I was really in for. A check engine light revealed a camshaft position sensor error and the Cayenne displayed a nasty vibration at idle. A new sensor and motor mounts, and I'm on my way. I'll update you as more things break or miraculously work, but I want to hear your memories from 2021.

Email me at chris@automotivemap.com, and I will compile the best and most interesting stories for a story on New Year's Day. May you all have a wonderful 2022.

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