By Shari Prymak
One of the latest trends in the luxury SUV market is the increasing popularity of sporty, coupe-like SUVs. The trend really took off with the introduction of the BMW X6, and has since spread to rivals, including Audi, Mercedes, and even Porsche. Infiniti might argue, however, that the concept of a coupe crossover began with the FX35 way back in 2003, which was the brand’s introduction to the world of sporty car-based SUVs. The QX55 is the spiritual successor to the original FX, designed to revitalize Infiniti and attract buyers who might otherwise be considering a rival luxury brand.
Unlike a few competing coupe SUVs which can look a bit awkward with their dramatically sloping rooflines, the coupe look suites the QX surprisingly well. Although it is basically just a QX50 with a swoopy roof, the styling tweak is a natural fit that makes the QX55 one of the most attractively designed SUVs in its segment. As an added bonus, the added style doesn’t significantly reduce outward visibility or interior space when compared to the QX50. Although rear seat headroom is slightly reduced, the seating space and cargo area remain very practical. The upright rear window, though narrow as it may be, still offers a reasonably decent view out back as well.
The interior space is attractively designed and well finished with high quality materials covering most surfaces. The top trim model includes luxurious touches such as open-pore wood trim, semi-aniline leather, micro suede and colour contrast stitching accents. Most of the controls are straightforward to operate and the list of available features is impressive as well. The only drawback here is that the tech does look and feel a bit last generation when compared to what you get with other luxury brands. The dual-touchscreen infotainment system, though updated with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, has now been around since 2014, and could use a serious overhaul.
The drivetrain consists of a turbocharged 2.0L variable compression 4-cylinder engine matched to a continuously variable transmission and standard all-wheel drive. It would be a fine setup for a regular SUV, but for a luxury SUV that looks as sporty and eye-catching as the QX55, it falls a bit short. Producing 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, the engine offers decent power, but its performance potential is held back by the CVT, which is ultimately designed for efficiency rather than performance. On the efficiency side, the QX55 is rated for an average of 9.5L/100km, which is about on par with most rivals. Unfortunately, no higher performance or hybrid-electric variants exist at this time.
After spending some time in the driver’s seat, what’s clear is that the QX55 is really meant to look far sportier than it performs. There’s nothing especially wrong with the way it handles, but those expecting a similar driving experience to other coupe SUVs such as the BMW X4 or Porsche Macan will be left a bit disappointed. Then again, the QX55 is far less expensive than its main competitors. The typically optioned X4, Macan, or Range Rover Evoque can easily cost upwards of $65,000 or more depending on the configuration. The QX55 MSRP ranges from $51,995 to $60,998, which is far more reasonable.
Although the luxury SUV market is filled with excellent options, the QX55 should stand out to those who prioritize style above pretty much all else. It is also quite comfortable, surprisingly practical for a coupe SUV, and the pricing is quite attractive when compared to the alternatives. Those sold on the design and don’t mind a tame driving experience or the dated multimedia tech will likely be pretty satisfied.