The Lockup: Why the Infiniti QX50 Gets Bullied in Its Class
According to Webster's Dictionary, the following words are defined thusly:
Bully: To act harshly towards, intimidate, domineer.
Overshadowed: Seeming less important or impressive when compared to something or someone else
Bland: not highly flavored; mild; tasteless; lacking in special interest, liveliness, individuality, etc.; insipid; dull; unemotional, indifferent, or casual
And according to Urban Dictionary, the following word is defined as:
Owned: Total and undeniable dominance of a person, group of people or situation as to make them/it akin to ones b***h!
The Infiniti QX50—A Bland Car
These words all thoroughly describe the problem with Infiniti and the QX50. The car gets bullied in its class, and I would go as so far to say it just gets downright overshadowed by everything else.
The QX50 is a bland car. Yes, car, not a crossover like they market it as. And I feel this is why Infiniti gets owned in not only this segment but other segments too. No one likes bland food, and I could go without the taste of driving the QX50. Hopefully, the 2019 version brings more buyers with its looks, but as of now, it looks bleak . . . for sales.
For starters, this car used to be called the EX35. And then the EX37, before finally being called the QX50. To put this into perspective, the EX35 was launched back in 2007 as an '08 model. That was wayyyyy back when the first iPhone was the only phone Apple made and Obama wasn’t even elected yet. Throughout the 11 years that followed, the car has actually only been refreshed twice, regardless of the three name changes. And no significant changes were really made. Except one.
Infiniti added 3.2 inches to the standard car in 2015, for the 2016 model year, making it longer. It didn’t really affect the cars overall looks, which I'm not sure is a good thing. But Infiniti seemed to think that these Chinese implants would help.
Chinese implants you might ask? Well, in China, the odds of being the person driven rather than the driver are high. And China hated the cramped back of the original QX50. Adding 3.2 inches seemed to do the trick. However, that car's American cousin wanted that botox too, and here lies a classic problem: what may work for other countries will not always work in the U.S.
The American car didn’t look bad with the new lift; in fact, it looked virtually the same. The driving dynamics and mechanicals of the car were still unchanged, which isn’t bad—Nissan's FM platform (front-mid-engine vehicle platform) makes reliable, fun handlers like the Nissan 370Z & Infiniti Q50 tick. The VQ engine has also been a staple of nice-handling cars like the 370Z. Both come in this car, and at 3,855 pounds, it's pretty balanced in its handling. It's an enjoyable car, and it doesn’t really do a single thing wrong as a Compact Luxury Crossover. You can even shift the thing like an actual manual. And there's nothing wrong with the transmission.
But all this praise shows why the car doesn’t sell. The car is bland. Balanced handling and room to fit people are what the consumer wants and the QX50 does what you ask of it. But that’s it. There is no extra mile. You get the basics, amplified to a point where the car is comfortable. But the QX50 does not get bold, and that’s why it's bland and overshadowed. It isn’t the sporting Porsche Macan with explosive handling reminiscent of a Cayman or 911. It isn’t an Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, or BMW X4/X3, which have a German pedigree backing them. It isn’t a Jaguar I-pace or a Land Rover, riddled with British class and an elegance you won't find elsewhere.
The cars with these names know what they want to be. The QX50 has an idea of what it wants to be. But does Infiniti know what it wants the QX50, and the company as a whole, to be?
The 2019 Infiniti QX50
Simply put, Infiniti should be a performance brand. It's what they initially launched the company as. And the QX50 fits that image. But who is to say the modern consumer looks at Infiniti like that.
When it comes to luxury cars, consumers are more likely to flock towards the car with a cool name, nice looks, and storied background. The QX50 lacks all three. And all three are Infiniti’s fault. I personally wouldn’t change the styling, but it could look better, more crossover-like, instead of looking like a raised hatchback. With all luxury brands moving towards alphanumeric naming systems, I won't say much about the name except that Alfa-Romeo and Land Rover do it better. And as for a storied history, it simply isn’t there because of Infiniti's confusion and hesitation about where they want to take the company. And this enigma, this conundrum, that plagues Infiniti continues, and it drastically hurt the sales of a good car in the QX50.
Hopefully, the 2019 QX50’s looks will help it sell. Because even as I type this, Infiniti still has no idea what direction they want to head in.
© 2018 Joshua Nightshade