In the world of premium-brand SUVs, Infiniti is a scrappy challenger to more staid brands like Lexus, BMW, and Audi. In contrast to Lexus, Infiniti focuses more on performance and style, stepping directly into the ring with the Europeans. The Infiniti contender in the coupe-styled compact crossover arena is the QX55, which debuted in 2021 as a 2022 model.
The short review is this: if you hate SUVs for their ponderous, top-heavy handling and lackluster performance but you need at least some of the cargo capacity, then the quick, nimble QX55 could be a good match for you.
The new QX55 is closely related to the existing QX50. The two SUVs share a common chassis platform and driveline, but the QX50 offers traditional square-back SUV styling while the QX55 gives you a rounded fastback profile. The QX55 offers about 10 cubic feet less cargo capacity than the QX50, but there’s more to the story. The QX55 is sportier, including all-wheel drive as standard, along with 20-inch wheels.
The QX55 primarily competes with the Lexus NX 250, Audi Q5 Sportback and BMW X2. The QX55 beats both the Lexus and the BMW on performance in basic trims, but BMW does offer its M performance models at higher price points. Pricing on the entire set is competitive.
The QX55 is more boldly styled than most compact crossovers, but it’s not by any means garish. There’s a large grille that’s typical of modern designs without being too much in-your-face, and plenty of sculpting on the sides. The most obvious exterior feature is the fastback roofline, which helps hide the QX55’s SUV underpinnings.
The headlights have LED running lights and those are typical of current “angry eye” designs. The total effect amounts to an up-to-date crossover that’s not trying too hard to be outrageous or macho, but rather elegant and sophisticated.
Infiniti did a good job with the inside of the QX55. It’s a no-nonsense sport interior. The test vehicle was prepared in the midgrade Essential trim. This nets you two-tone perforated leather upholstery with comfortable seating for four adults. You could fit a third into the center of the back seat, but only for short trips.
The front seats are both heated and ventilated, which you don’t get in the base Luxe trim, and the rear outboard seats are heated and offer a bit of recline capability. Essential trim also includes a heated steering wheel, which is rapidly becoming an indispensable feature on any premium vehicle. Choosing the top Sensory trim level upgrades the leather to the extra-soft semi-aniline variety and buys real Black Maple wood interior trim instead of brushed aluminum.
With the rear seats folded down, the QX55 offers 54.1 cubic feet for cargo, which is good by compact SUV standards, and 26.9 cubic feet when the rear seats are in use, so the utility is still there in this sporty crossover.
The 2022 QX55 comes with just one drivetrain. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. By current standards that’s pretty modest, but the QX55 makes good use of what it’s got, delivering quick, peppy throttle response. In any modern vehicle, the transmission is a big part of the performance you perceive, and that brings us to the gearbox.
The QX55 uses a continuously variable transmission to pass power to all four wheels. If you’re saying, “Ugh, I hate those gearboxes” right now, I usually share that sentiment. But consider that I drove this vehicle for a week and didn’t notice that it wasn’t a regular automatic until I read the window sticker.
Infiniti has done a great job making the QX55 drive like a standard automatic. It’s got paddle shifters and manual mode if you want to select your own shift points. You can still feel the CVT “rubber band” acceleration effect if you really push it, but you probably won’t notice it in ordinary driving.
One thing to note: the QX55 can be equipped with a small hitch receiver, but the vehicle is not rated for any towing capacity at all. The hitch is intended strictly for accessories such as a bicycle carrier, and it’s limited to 300 pounds.
Safety and Technology
Neither NHTSA nor IIHS have completely weighed in on the QX55 yet, although NHTSA has given it a five-star overall frontal crash rating. But when it comes to safety and driver assistance technology, Infiniti lives up to its promise as a premium brand. Standard features on all trims of the QX55 include Automatic High Beams, Blind-Spot Monitor, Reverse Automatic Braking, Forward Collision Warning with Automatic Braking, and Lane-Departure Warning.
There’s also a package of advanced features called the ProACTIVE package. This tech is not available on the base Luxe trim, but it’s optional on Essential trim and standard on the top Sensory trim. That includes a Head-Up Display, Lane Departure and Blind Spot Intervention, Steering Assistance, Adaptive Cruise Control, Traffic Sign Recognition, and the Nissan/Infiniti ProPILOT Assist steering assistance system.
On the dashboard, the QX55 comes with a somewhat idiosyncratic twin-screen system. The 8-inch upper screen is a display for navigation and other information, placed high so you don’t have to look too far down to see it. Then there’s a 7-inch touchscreen underneath for climate, navigation, and infotainment controls.
The audio system is a 16-speaker Bose setup on Essential and Sensory trims, and an Infiniti-branded six-speaker system on the base Luxe trim. Full Android or Apple phone integration is included, along with Infiniti’s own InTouch operating system.
While the QX55 is comfortable and technologically up-to-date, the reason to test-drive this vehicle is the driving experience. The first thing you notice is that the QX55 is easy to drive. You never have to fight it or wait for the vehicle to respond to your inputs. Further, the QX55 is predictable in its motions and in its engine/driveline response. Coming from a sport sedan, you can hop into the QX55 and just drive normally, which cannot be said for most compact crossovers.
The reason for that intuitive, sporty demeanor is that Infiniti has no illusions about using the QX55 off-road. It’s not made for that purpose. This is an urban/suburban crossover designed for comfort, speed, and usefulness on the road. Infiniti and its parent brand Nissan are known for sports cars, and that comes through in the driving experience. If you hate driving SUVs, you just might like the QX55.
2022 Infiniti QX55 Essential AWD Specifications
|Dimension||L: 186.3 inches/W: 74.9 inches/H: 63.8 inches/Wheelbase: 110.2 inches|
|Powertrain||2.0-liter variable compression turbocharged 4-cylinder engine; CVT and AWD|
|Fuel Economy||22 mpg city/28 mpg highway/25 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $50,345; As tested: $55,445 including $1,195 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
At publishing time, Infiniti is pushing the 2023 model year QX55. The company advertises the 2023 QX55 in Luxe trim for $50,345, including the destination fee. The Essential trim starts at $55,445, and the top Sensory trim at $58,995. You might save a bit on 2022 models currently in dealer stock.
Looking at what you can get, we’d recommend going with the top Sensory trim for all the bells and whistles or get the Essential trim and pick the ProACTIVE package for $1,600 and save a bit if you don’t need the wood trim and super nice leather. You could save a little more on the Luxe trim and still get a nice crossover, but if you’re going to spend $50,000, you might as well spend a little more and get all the modern conveniences.
The reason to choose the Infiniti over the competitive set is simple: the driving experience is more sporting and better-tuned to the kind of on-road driving that most premium brand crossovers actually do. If you’re planning to go off-road, there are more rugged choices available.
2022 Infiniti QX55 Essential AWD — Frequently Asked Questions
How fast is the Infiniti QX55?
The Infiniti QX55 can hit 60 mph in 6.4 seconds on the way to a top speed of 155 mph.
Is the QX55 bigger than the QX50?
No, in fact, it’s smaller. Specifically, the QX55 has 54.1 cubic feet of maximum cargo space versus 65.1 cubes for the QX50. It also loses 1.5 inches of rear headroom.
Does the QX55 have a third row?
No, it does not. It has seating for five adults — for short periods of time — in two rows. Realistically, four adults can fit comfortably in the SUV.