Wednesday, June 23

The Infiniti QX55: Unapologetically Fashion-Forward

THE FIRST WORD of the press announcement is “unapologetic,” to wit: The “Unapologetic Infiniti QX55 to start at $46,500 MSRP ….” That’s some jazzy grammar there, Thelonious. For what is it not in the mood to apologize? The gravelly engine? The crypto-maniacal arrangement of controls? The price? Marketing means never having to say you’re sorry.

I suspect Infiniti is floating the idea that the styling of its new midsize premium crossover coupe is controversial, hoping to tap the love it/hate it energy of consumer psychology. The irony is that the QX55’s normcore prettiness leaves almost no one behind: a big sassy grille, 20-inch wheels, a slick roof, a cute butt. Tesla’s Cybertruck it ain’t.

Infiniti, the luxury division of Nissan (of the Paris-based Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance), has had a rocky few years in the U.S., due largely to an aging product line that was weighted toward sedans. Meanwhile, the brand’s offerings of SUVs had also gotten long in the tusk. The QX55 is the first of two new family movers entering the big tent for model-year 2022. The other is the three-row SUV (QX60).

The flagship of Infiniti’s fleet remains the large and uncontroversial QX80 SUV. Everyone agrees it’s heinous.

The QX55 shares most of what makes the QX50 family crossover tick—the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with variable-compression ratio linkages (VC-Turbo); continuously variable transmission; and front-biased all-wheel drive, standard on QX55—but re-dresses the package with a pert fastback shape, over bigger wheels and tires. The QX55, management notes, is a hollaback to the pioneering and under-appreciated FX models (2002-2013). I might observe that the old, cab-rearward design was way cooler looking, but how is that even helpful?

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