Most people regard the 2008 BMW X6 as being the first crossover-coupe — or “coupeover” in Roadshow parlance — kicking off a trend that’s resulted in all sorts of swoopy SUVs. But the first true coupeover was actually the first-gen Infiniti FX that debuted in 2002. That low-slung, rear-drive crossover had a much sleeker roofline than any other SUV on the market, and it set a new standard for how a sporty SUV could look and drive. Now, Infiniti is trying to capitalize on the FX’s heritage with the new QX55 crossover, which makes its debut Tuesday.
This is essentially a “coupe” version of the Infiniti QX50. The company’s design boss, Alfonso Albaisa, admits that his team made “a conscious effort” to copy the roofline of the original FX and paste it onto the QX55. And I’ve gotta say, it works. While not as traditionally coupe-y as some of its competition, the sleeker greenhouse makes the QX55 look a whole lot cooler and more modern than the QX50. The roof curves and tapers nicely, and it doesn’t look as tacked-on or forced as some other coupeovers.
2022 Infiniti QX55 is the only Japanese crossover-coupe
It’s not all about the roofline, either. The QX55’s grille is larger and has a unique pattern and bright finish, and the front bumper has more aggressive intakes. The liftgate has a nicely integrated lip spoiler and the license plate is relocated down to the bumper, where it sits in a restyled diffuser. I particularly like the new LED taillights, which have a “piano key” design. Twenty-inch wheels are standard, and nothing larger is available.
The QX55 will be offered with just one powertrain: Infiniti’s (and Nissan’s) innovative VC-Turbo engine that features a variable compression ratio. In the QX55 this turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four makes 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, matching the output of the QX50, and it’s paired with a continuously variable transmission. Unlike the QX50, which comes standard with front-wheel drive, every QX55 gets all-wheel drive.
In terms of styling, the QX55’s interior is identical to the QX50’s. The flowing dashboard design looks great and the materials appear high-quality, but the awful dual-touchscreen setup carries over unchanged. The black-and-red combo you see in these photos is exclusive to the QX55 — the only other interior color options are black and a black/gray — and there are some new trim options including dark brushed aluminum and black open-pore wood. I wish the QX55 had the three-tone blue, cream and brown color scheme that the QX50 has; it would definitely fit the more stylish character of the new car.
Because the QX55’s roof really isn’t all that sloped, passenger space isn’t as compromised as with other crossover-coupes. Headroom for the front passengers is almost exactly the same as in the QX50, and there’s only 1.5 fewer inches of headroom in the back. The QX55’s standard power liftgate opens to reveal a cargo area that’s not too much smaller than the QX50’s, either. There’s 26.9 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, down from 31.1 in the QX50. With the rear seats folded the QX55 has 54.1 cubic feet of room, compared to 64.4 in the QX50.
One benefit of jumping to the QX55 is additional standard features, but that’s partially because there’s no Pure base model like with the QX50. The QX55 is offered in Luxe, Essential and Sensory trims, which means there’s no top-end Autograph model like on the QX50, either. A panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, wireless charging, wireless Apple CarPlay, non-wireless Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hotspot and dual-zone automatic climate control are among the standard features. Available goodies include a 16-speaker Bose sound system, ventilated seats, adaptive LED headlights, navigation, a head-up display and three-zone climate control.
Every QX55 gets automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert with rear automated braking. Infiniti’s ProPilot Assist suite of driver-assist tech is optional, which brings fancy adaptive cruise control with steering assist and lane centering. You can also opt for traffic sign recognition, lane-keeping assist and rain-sensing wipers.
But here’s the thing: Good as the QX55 looks, I can’t help but think it’s a half-assed effort. The original FX (and the second-gen model that followed) was something new and fresh; it didn’t look like any other Infiniti model, and it wasn’t just a sportier version of an existing SUV. For the QX55 to just be an existing crossover with a slightly different roof is kind of a letdown. The FX was a real game-changer, and I think it deserves a better homage than this. There’s room in the lineup for a true successor, a sporty rear-drive SUV to do battle with the German establishment. Sadly, it seems like Infiniti is more concerned with style than actual substance.
The QX55 should help bring new customers to Infiniti, at least. It’s targeted at “orphans” of the brand, fans of Japanese luxury cars that want a distinctive coupe-like crossover — something that competitors like Acura and Lexus don’t offer. Infiniti says the QX55 will go on sale in spring 2021. Pricing hasn’t been released yet, but it should be at least a few grand more than the QX50 Luxe AWD’s $44,525 starting price.
Infiniti joins the coupe-like SUV segment with 2022 QX55
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