Infiniti QX50

A lot to love for the money

"If you aren't comparing it to Infiniti brand's design signature, the QX50 is the best bargain out there against its rivals."

"Longer and better."

"A premium crossover leaning toward the sporty side," said Issam.

Here I am picking up the facelifted QX50 from the official distributor in Lebanon, RYMCO, for a weekend drive. I told you a couple of years ago that Infiniti holds a unique position in the entry-level luxury car market, offering a vehicle with great power, comfortable cabin and advanced convenience features for a significantly good price tag (versus its rivals).

The 2016 QX50 was really just a re-badged EX crossover, but for 2016 Infiniti has done some cosmetic work and integrated interior changes to make the QX far more functional. The updated QX50 is stretched by about three inches, a noticeable amount that increases rear seat legroom and makes the cabin a much more comfortable atmosphere. The extra length is all but hidden by the exterior lines; while a revised grille and new front fog lights modernize the tender styling.

The QX50's navigation system was amazingly superb back in 2008, with a high-mounted, button-laden controller. But the recent version is unfeeling and outdated, especially when I drove the Q50 and tested its infotainment system. This needs to be changed!

In terms of seating, driving, and the whole atmosphere of the interior cabin - I liked it because I felt at home. The steering was a bit vague; it was without feel or emotion. The 3.7-liter V6 engine growls in a segment of crossovers and its 325 horsepower is more than strong enough for all driving challenges, especially in a country like Lebanon where you have mountainous routes, off-road, potholes, highways, tight corners, etc.

In terms of safety and technology, it is more impressive in this year's model: it offers a standard rearview camera, optional surround-view cameras and parking sensors, and a host of active-safety touches from lane-departure warnings and blind-spot monitors, to forward-collision alerts with automatic braking (on the highest trim).

All in all, it is a calm ride with a balanced chassis and charismatic powertrain, which helps it to stand out as an athletic vehicle. Check out your nearest dealership and get your complimentary test drive.

Pros: Comfortable seats, powerful V6 engine, low base price, first-class cabin materials and quiet running
Cons: Infotainment needs to be changed to the one in the Q50, steering needs more feel to it
Rivals: Porsche Macan, Jaguar F-Pace, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Cadillac XT5, Lincoln MKC
4 stars
one word: affordable

3.7L, V6, 325 hp @ 7,000 rpm, 362 Nm @ 5,200 rpm
7-speed automatic with manual shifting mode, AWD
top speed: 234 km/h, 0-100 km/h: 5.9 sec, fuel consumption: 11.9 L/100 km
Weight: 1,769 - 1,837 kg

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