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