If you already liked it, it’s now a little better

When we reviewed the redesigned 2019 Infiniti QX50 in October, we called the Japanese luxury brand’s newest model “decidedly ordinary.” As we explained, this premium compact crossover wasn’t a bad car, but unless its voluptuous styling hit the spot for you, it merely got the job done without making a splash — all while a series of small annoyances, such as an awkward throttle calibration and some downscale interior bits, wore away at even this theme of general competence. So did Infiniti resolve these issues for the 2020 model year?

What’s It Like to Live with the 2020 Infiniti QX50

2020 Infiniti QX50 Impressions - What's Changed from 2019? Exterior
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One of the most obvious frustrations came from the 2019 QX50’s infotainment system, which we called “a generation behind” today’s luxury norm — for example, in competitors like the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, and Volvo XC60. A particularly glaring omission was advanced smartphone integration through the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto interfaces, which let you use some of your smartphone apps through a car’s dashboard controls. It’s a valuable feature, because these apps often work better than cars’ built-in systems — they’re familiar, they sync across your devices to offer intelligent predictions (especially in Google Maps versus a car’s navigation system), and they’re easier to update than a car’s own installed software. Because of these advantages, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are increasingly available as standard equipment even on economy cars.

2020 Infiniti QX50 Impressions - What's Changed from 2019? Interior
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Fortunately, for 2020, Infiniti has introduced a new infotainment system, and the 2020 Infiniti QX50 is one of the beneficiaries.

In addition to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, the new Infiniti InTouch system has a redesigned interface and an overhauled built-in navigation system. The 2020 QX50, priced from $38,275 including its mandatory destination charge, also has more standard features than before, helping resolve one of last year’s other complaints.

Does the updated QX50 have what it takes to shed its “just-okay” impression? In a word, no.

The QX50 is definitely better than it was.

But this year’s changes were a modest evolution that didn’t transform either weak point into a strength — just less-weak weak points.

2020 Infiniti QX50 Impressions - What's Changed from 2019? Interior
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To start, the QX50’s redesigned infotainment system is still nothing special. It still has two separate touchscreens stacked on top of each other: an 8-inch screen above a 7-inch one. The graphics have changed a bit, but even seeing both of them side by side, it’s not obvious which iteration is newer. The biggest visual difference is the optional navigation system, which goes from flashy but arguably dated to dull and businesslike.

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When in use, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay take over the upper screen, which means you don’t have to leave the interface to use other infotainment functions like the radio or climate controls. That’s handy in many cases. However, it means that the QX50 doesn’t get one smoothly integrated plus-size display like in most luxury cars.

2020 Infiniti QX50 Impressions - What's Changed from 2019? Interior
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Meanwhile, Infiniti added some safety features as standard equipment this year: blind-spot monitoring with a cross-traffic alert, a lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, and reverse automatic braking, in addition to the already-standard forward-collision warning with emergency automatic braking. However, Infiniti’s ProPilot Assist system with full-speed adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping steering still doesn’t appear until you’ve spent more than $50,000 even though you can get the same system in a Nissan for under $30,000. And a hands-free power liftgate, which should be a simple addition to the QX50’s standard power liftgate, only appears at nearly $55,000.

2020 Infiniti QX50 Impressions - What's Changed from 2019? Exterior
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Our test vehicle — the top Autograph model with all-wheel-drive, extra-cost upgraded interior trim, and some other add-ons — hit $60,070.

And if you spend much less than this, you lose one of the QX50’s best qualities: extra-swanky upholstery and wood trim, which most QX50 vehicles will do without. That’s a problem, since, without that good stuff, there’s less to distract from the car’s various downscale buttons and switches, and its extra-plain gauges. Infiniti would also do well to swap out the extra-light, rough-plastic keyfob from Infiniti, in favor of something more substantial.

Where Does the Infiniti QX50 Excel Over the Competition?

2020 Infiniti QX50 Impressions - What's Changed from 2019? Exterior
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Don’t get us wrong. Like we said last year, the QX50 still has likable qualities. It’s roomier than many competitors, has a more affordable base price, and, thanks to an unusual powertrain, gets better EPA fuel economy ratings. And to the right eye, it’s beautiful inside and out.

But its driving experience, infotainment, and some interior materials are ho-hum by luxury standards — while most competitors dazzle in at least one of those ways.

And unless you’re content to leave off feature content from your luxury experience, the QX50 isn’t even necessarily less expensive than those more dazzling competitors.

If the 2019 QX50 suited you, good news: The 2020 model is now better than before, a slightly better deal (unless you were planning to buy an expensive top-trim model) and, at last, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. But the improvements haven’t dramatically expanded this vehicle’s appeal. It’s still a luxury compact crossover that’s worth considering, but as we said last time around, “don’t be shocked if your heart and mind are won by one of its competitors.”

For more detailed impressions of the QX50 and its competitors, check out our 2019 review.

2020 Infiniti QX50 specifications
Engine KR20DDET 2.0L-Turbo
Orientation Transverse-mounting
Cylinders / configuration 4-cylinder, inline
Block / head composition Aluminum-alloy / Aluminum-alloy
Displacement 2.0 liters / 1,970 ~ 1,997 cc
Horsepower 268 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 280 @ 4,400 rpm
Cargo volume (cubic feet, with 2nd row up) 31.4 / 31.1 w/moonroof
Cargo volume (cubic feet, with 2nd row folded) 65.1 / 64.4 w/moonroof
Total interior volume (cubic feet) 135.8 / 133.3 w/moonroof
Brady Holt
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