2020 Infiniti QX50 review: A good value made better

Visually, the QX50 is the same as last year’s model.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow The 2020 Infiniti QX50 is basically the same car my colleague Andrew Krok reviewed last year. It’s got the same potent-yet-thrifty VC-Turbo powertrain, the same smart ProPilot Assist driver-assistance technology and the same opulent blue-and-white leather interior. But it’s not exactly the same.

7.5 2020 Infiniti QX50
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Sharp design inside and out, especially with the white leather

The VC-Turbo engine provides excellent fuel economy and strong performance

More standard features and updated tech makes the 2020 model an even better bargain
Don’t Like

Tech updates are nice, but the dual display bones are awkward to use

The best ProPilot Assist tech isn’t available until nearly the top trim level
Infiniti has been uncharacteristically nimble with updating its small luxury SUV, tweaking the packing and tech just one year after check this generation’s launch. The changes are subtle, but with competition so fierce in check this class, every bit of edge matters. For 2020, the QX50 comes out more competitive than ever.

Better tech
Perhaps the most noteworthy change for the 2020 model year is the updated cabin technology suite. Oh, it still uses the same awkward, dual-screen setup, splitting the interface between an 8-inch display up top and a 7-inch screen below. But resolution for the upper unit has been bumped up and the on-screen graphics are now crisp and vibrant. Touch responsiveness has also been improved for both the top and bottom screens.

The physical control knob on the center console remains, allowing drivers to take control of the upper display without having to reach — it’s pretty far up there — or smudge the screen with fingerprints. These functions are replicated, somewhat, by a thumb switch on the steering wheel, which is nice.

The organization of the software that powers those displays, however, hasn’t changed much from last year. The upper display is primarily where the map for navigation lives and where the rear- and surround-view camera feeds show up. The optional navigation software has been updated with higher-resolution maps to better take advantage of the high-res display, and the functionality still gets the job done. The lower screen handles most of the heavy lifting with dedicated shortcut icons, destination input for navigation, settings, handsfree calling and audio controls, as well as secondary functions such as monitoring fuel economy or SiriusXM alerts for stock prices, weather and so on. 

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Overall, the system doesn’t seem to actually do anything that you couldn’t get done with a single screen and smarter interface design.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow Infiniti’s system is still clunky to use, but thankfully, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity are now standard for the QX50. Plug in via USB and your automotive-phone interface of choice will appear on the upper display where it can be controlled via touch input or the physical knob. Neither is ideal. The physical controller isn’t quite optimized for Android Auto, so making selections or moving between the onscreen zones is tricky. I found it best to use the touchscreen directly, but as mentioned, the upper display can be quite a reach depending on your seating position. You might want to scooch up a bit.

Blink and you’ll miss that one of the QX50’s two dashboard USB ports has been converted to a type-C connection — the other remains the familiar, rectangular type-A port. It’s a nice touch for people who’ve converted all of their gadgets to type-C, but I don’t believe there are any function advantages beyond the connection itself. Both ports charged my Google Pixel 4XL at the same speed when connected.

More standard features
The available safety tech hasn’t changed for the 2020 model year, but a number of once-optional technologies are now standard across the QX50 lineup. check this adds a bit to the starting price, but I think the extra value is worth it.

The SUV now offers lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert with automatic braking and automatic high beams without checking a single option box. Those new standard features are in addition to the forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, rear parking sensors and rear-view camera that carries over from last year. A surround-view camera is an optional upgrade.