Concept Cars

INFINITI partners with world- famous furniture maker

Infiniti's first all-electric vehicle is coming but first the QX Inspiration Concept is here. The all-electric concept crossover shows the design and engineering progression the automaker is taking as they move toward electrification. To help show that off, Infiniti has enlisted the help of world- famous furniture maker, Tendo Co.

Tendo was founded in 1940, a full 49 years before Infiniti was born, in Japan's Yamagata Prefecture. It is heralded for its artisan woodworkers and craftspeople. The company's business includes working alongside architects and designs to create timeless products. It was because of this heritage that Infiniti went to Tendo for its interior design.

"Our first ideas and sketches for the interior were founded in this notion of creating a space that was more akin to a lounge or living space. We took advantage of the spacious layout enabled by the electric powertrain, and created a furniture-like expression for every element of the interior. At the same time, we wanted to explore a Japanese sense of beauty, tying the car to our cultural roots," said Mie Tanaka, color design assistant manager at Infiniti Motor Company.

Infiniti Design Infiniti used sugi, a Japanese cedar tree, to give the interior of its concept crossover a warm hue. Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.

"We approached Tendo with this, and, while we had our own idea about how the QX Inspiration's 'furniture' could look, Tendo's many decades of experience in wood-working and design helped us to create something really special. The result is a beautiful, relaxing space that is rich in Japanese craftsmanship and materials. It is unlike anything we have been able to produce before."

With a design directive that included the use of organic materials and subdued colors, the two teams decided to use sugi, a cedar tree from Japan, for wood accents in the cabin. Its natural coloring and soft, light grain project warmth. The Sufi used in the car was grown in the Yamagata Prefecture and can be found on door panels as well as woodwork throughout the cabin.

Our team values the Japanese notion of 'monozukuri' – an appreciation of making things – so we have handcrafted each part of the Infiniti QX Inspiration's interior with care," said Sakae Igarashi, assistant manager, Tendo Co. "We are proud with what we have created and achieved with INFINITI. It is always a pleasure to work with fellow designers who can imagine beautiful things and create wonderful features. It has been an honor to work on this project."

The QX Inspiration Concept is just the first hint at the future of electrified mobility for Infiniti. Plans call for electric, hybrid, and performance hybrid vehicles to enter the lineup soon.

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.

Infiniti, the luxury arm of Nissan, has announced that the company is postponing the release of the QX55.

Photo courtesy of Infiniti

The Infiniti QX55, a luxury compact SUV designed to bring back memories of the automaker's FX line, has had production delayed for five months according to a report from Automotive News. It was originally set to arrive at dealerships this summer.

Journalists first saw the model in October during a quick reveal at a private event in New Mexico. During a presentation about the model, Infiniti relayed positioning plans that spoke of the QX55 being a fastback style SUV/crossover with the zippy spirit of a FX35.

With suppliers told that the model will not begin production until November, plans for it to be called a "2020 Infiniti QX55" may be changed and instead the crossover may begin life as a 2021 Infiniti QX55.

When it begins production, the model will be assembled alongside the Infiniti QX50 at the $1.4 billion joint-venture Aguascalientes, Mexico plant co-owned by Nissan and Daimler.

At the same time Infiniti showed off its QX55 to journalists, it previewed the forthcoming 2021 Infiniti QX60 redesign. With this latest news about the QX55, the premium carmaker could be looking to launch two new models right around the same time.