On Nov. 8, 1989, Cubs player Jerome Walton was named the National League Rookie of Year. “Listen To Your Heart” by Roxette was No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart; Young MC’s “Bust a Move” was No. 11, which is one of my favorites (“you know what to do G, bust a move”). Nobody knew it yet, but it was the day before East Berlin would open its borders and for the first time since 1961, Germans would be able to cross freely from East to West. And on that momentous Wednesday, Infiniti was launched in the U.S.
Only two models were available then: the M30 coupe and the Q45 sedan. It wasn’t until 1996 that the brand introduced its first SUV, the QX4, which was eventually replaced by the swoopy FX. Infiniti calls that “the original coupe SUV”, and it not only shared the platform of the 350Z, but it also took up the familiar but powerful 3.5-liter V6.
This lengthy history lesson serves to explain how we got to where we are with this, the new 2022 Infiniti QX55. And it also aims to illustrate that Nissan’s luxury brand has spent many of its days struggling on various fronts—with its identity, with sales, with its value proposition, and with competitors like Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and now even upstarts like Tesla.
The QX55 is key to solving that seemingly endless challenge. It’s no secret that the appetite for SUVs and crossovers is insatiable in America these last several years while sedans have taken a back seat. SUVs outsold sedans two to one in 2019 (even the Lamborghini Urus SUV outsold its brand siblings) and this particular model from Infiniti is a desirable blend of space and luxury. When my friends come to me for buying advice for a new vehicle, nine times out of 10 it’s an SUV, and often it’s for a three-row version.
And the QX55 is an undeniably handsome competitor in this crowded space, with design details that are uniquely Japanese in the Zen way that Infiniti has marketed its vehicles since the beginning. Yet it borrows heavily from the QX50, which was launched in 2019, sharing much of the sheet metal and the 2.0-liter VC-turbo four-banger that trots out 268 horsepower.
So with its good looks and some help from the parts bin, can the QX55 finally help Infiniti get to where it needs to be?
The 2022 Infiniti QX55, By the Numbers
- Base Price (As Tested): $46,500 ($58,975)
- Powertrain: Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four | CVT | all-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 268 horsepower
- Torque: 176 pound-feet @ 4,400 rpm from gas engine | 199 pound-feet from front electric motor | 89 pound-feet from the rear electric motor
- EPA Fuel Economy: 22 mpg city | 28 highway | 25 combined
- Curb Weight: 4,015 to 4,065 pounds
- Seating Capacity: 5
- Maximum Towing Capacity: Infiniti offers a lifestyle hitch for bike racks, but a tow hitch is not available.
- Cargo Space: 26.9 cubic feet behind second row | 54.1 cubic feet behind first row
- Quick Take: This coupe/SUV blend is a pleasure to drive and the controls are intuitive, even if the infotainment setup leaves something to be desired.
The designer of the QX55 told me the styling suggests more Kyoto and less Tokyo, and in referencing Japan’s historic capital city, the car definitely has a classical vibe going. It’s similar in size and price to the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe, but where the Mercedes-Benz looks more like a car on a stacked chassis, the QX55 presents more aerodynamic. The Infiniti prowls with its plunging roofline. Everybody says their vehicle is “sensuous” but this is one example of a brand actually describing it accurately. Overall, I like the design quite a bit.
You’ll notice that Infiniti ditched the crescent-cut D pillar on the QX55 and the roofline is heavily raked, setting it apart from the QX50 as well as the FX. As luck would have it, on the day I was test driving the QX55, an FX37 just happened to pull into the parking lot. I whipped around to grab a quick comparison photo. Looking at them side by side, you can almost imagine it morphing digitally from one to the other: the newer model is smoother and silkier. It’s almost as if the FX is a wrinkled shirt and the QX55 is the ironed-out version.
Origami was the inspiration for the wavy-lined grille; next to previous grille designs, it is the evolution of a flat piece of paper into a three-dimensional swan. Looking at it straight in the nose, the QX55 has a more aggressive front fascia, including larger air intakes, and the accents are well-placed. In the back, piano-key taillights wrap around the curves of the outer corners, leaving an unmistakable stamp of light in the night that reminds me of a nautilus shell.
I can almost see the clay model underneath the flanks of this crossover; the brushstrokes are designed to suggest smooth motion. And as an aficionado of car paint colors, I’d say the Dynamic Sunstone Red (which adds $900 to your total) is worth the extra cash output. For those with less-adventurous color palettes, other options include Slate Gray, Hermosa Blue, Liquid Platinum, Majestic White, Graphite Shadow, Mineral Black, and Black Obsidian.
Inside the QX55, you get more of a blend of highs and lows. Even the lows are not oh-my-stars-this-is-terrible, it’s more like eh, I wish this were a little different. For example, I’m an audiophile and love the 16-speaker Bose premium audio system. It’s got to be able to kick out everything from Disturbed to Debussy without sounding tinny, and it handled my range of preferences with excellent quality. Bose can be hit or miss as it relates to car audio and this time it’s a good fit.
On the other hand, I found the volume knob to be too small. Other improvements could be made by adding a tuning knob or at least more comprehensive controls as well. Cars from Stellantis (née Fiat Chrysler) and General Motors have a smart setup with toggle switches situated behind the steering wheel with multiple audio options, and I think Infiniti has room for improvement there.
On the tech side, wireless Apple CarPlay is standard for the first time in any Infiniti model. Sadly, Android users take second fiddle with a wired-only interface. I’m an Apple user so it worked for me but my husband would have been out of luck. The QX55 is also equipped with a dual-screen InTouch multimedia system; Bluetooth; four USB ports (one USB-C fast charger and three standard USB-A types); and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot with support for up to seven devices.
Legroom is ample; I’m 5’5” and had no problems with the back seat. Because of the sloping roof, you might expect people might find their head is uncomfortably close to the ceiling. My friend Harvey is 6’3″ and he said he was surprisingly comfortable back there when he checked it out, so looks are deceiving. It’s worth noting that the shape of the QX55 means some sacrifice of space, as well: it has 54.1 cubic feet compared to 65.1 cubic feet in the QX50. Related to that, my husband and I found that the cargo area was not optimal for loading up a Tundra 45 Yeti cooler due to the angle of the hatch.
Three trim levels are available for this crossover: Luxe, Essential, and Sensory. All variants include all-wheel drive, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android connectivity, Bluetooth, dual-zone temperature control, 20-inch wheels, a power moonroof, heated seats, and the infotainment cluster with two screens: an eight-inch display atop a seven-inch display.
Also standard is a set of driver-assist features like blind-spot detection and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Adaptive cruise control and ProPILOT Assist are optional on the middle trim and standard on the top-shelf version. If you haven’t used ProPILOT Assist before, it does a solid job of keeping you on the road and alert on long distances while reducing fatigue.
At the top of the trim line, open-pore wood trim, tri-zone automatic climate control, and a motion-activated liftgate punctuate the feature listing, all of which together add a few thousand dollars to the total. One feature that comes with every QX55 that I think is highly underrated is the Zero Gravity seating, which is based on technology used for space travel and designed to support your spine in a neutral position. The end result is less fatigue when driving and maximum comfort long-distance comfort. I have an old neck injury and not every driver’s seat is created equal on that front. Infiniti and Nissan’s Zero Gravity seats are perceptibly better than many of its competitors.
A request, Infiniti: when I wanted to open the door and it was locked, I had to first push the unlock button and then pull the handle. I’d like for it to open in one motion when I want to exit the car. Not having that feels like I’m trying to stand up with my lap belt still buckled.
The Drive: 2022 Infiniti QX55
Maybe because this is the stage of my life that I’m thinking about it more often, I noticed that the QX55 is pretty well-suited for anyone in a “sandwich generation” position with young kids and aging relatives. My parents and in-laws are in their 70s and have a range of mobility issues that could make it difficult to get into a lower sedan or an SUV that’s higher off the ground. The size of the QX55 lends itself well to getting in and out of the vehicle without having to exert much effort.
I think it’d be ideally suited for a hybrid powertrain but Infiniti is not committing to any changes in that vein as of yet. As is, the inline-four turbocharged 2.0-liter powerplant is adequate for most people and I didn’t experience any anxiety about pulling out onto the highway from an entry ramp or passing on the road. To boost efficiency, the VC-turbo engine adapts its variable compression ratio between 14:1 and 8:1 depending on how you drive it; the QX50 was the first production vehicle to offer this tech and it adds power when you need it.
Look, journalists love to hate on the CVT because it’s not made for performance but for efficiency. The CVT offers a subdued ride that is not thrilling nor is it boring; it just is. A push of low-end torque gets you going adequately, and if you consider how most people choose and buy cars, it’s sufficient for an unassuming ride. My prediction is a more enthusiastic reception for the 295-hp 3.5-liter V6 powerplant paired with a nine-speed automatic gearbox that will come with the three-row QX60 later this year.
This model has been machined for more torsional rigidity than the QX50. Combined with the steer-by-wire Direct Adaptive steering, the stiffness of the SUV gives it less control than I like. Wired said it best back in 2014 when it used this system for the first time in the QX50:
“As with features like lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and parking assist, this further disconnects drivers from driving. Car lovers who spend their weekends yeehawing around mountain roads will howl, but most customers won’t notice the change on their own. Those who do probably won’t care.”
This SUV knows exactly what it is, and it’s not trying to be a sports car in a crossover body. It also doesn’t necessarily need more power unless you’re someone who needs a louder engine with deeper, more powerful notes. In that case, you might want to take a look at a more athletic SUV.
Nissan and Infiniti have been through a tough couple of years, and this feels like a win to me. According to Forbes, Infiniti sales fell 32.5 percent last year, and while every automaker had a span of losses due to the pandemic, Infiniti and Nissan got especially hammered. The parent company’s turmoil is well-documented at this point; it’s attempting an aggressive turnaround that involves slashing models and plants, cutting costs, and going electric. Less clear is where that leaves its luxury brand.
For now, though, at $46,000, the QX55’s starting price is pretty darn good for a luxury SUV. It has a lot going for it in terms of design, standard driver-assist features and amenities; most of all, it’s pleasant to drive. This is the kind of vehicle you could drive for a few years and pass it on to a teen driver or one that your parents could drive confidently into their twilight years, especially if it includes ProPILOT Assist on both ends of that spectrum.
If you have a small family and you don’t need a minivan any bigger, this would be a logical progression; it feels like a graduation of some kind. There are some nitpicky things I didn’t love, like the navigation functionality, the door locks, and the lack of clear tuning options for the audio system. Those of you who detest a CVT aren’t going to go for this, but it will work perfectly well for drivers who want to get from point A to point B with minimal drama.
It looks to me that Infiniti could be on the cusp of a breakthrough, and even if the QX55 isn’t it, it’s a bridge. I’ll look forward to seeing what lessons they’ve gleaned from the QX55 to take it to the next step.
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