Nov 082017
 

At Latino Traffic Report (LTR), we celebrate advancement by Latinos in the auto industry. Most car buyers know Infiniti as Nissan’s premium brand but for Latinos, it has special significance. Every model bears the mark of senior vice president for Nissan Global Design and chief creative officer, Alfonso Albaisa, one of the highest-ranking Latino executives in the auto industry. Since 2013, Albaisa has made sure each Infiniti model combines provocative looks with luxury and technology, like the 2017 QX30 Premium AWD, that I recently test-drove.

“The category defying design of the QX30 stays true to the inspiration behind the daring QX30 Concept,” says Albaisa. “Its mix of artistry in the flowing lines, and power in the elevated stance and confident look, makes a bold visual statement and challenges current preconceptions of what a crossover should look like.”

Unique design cues, like the signature crescent or boomerang shape repeated throughout, like on the C-pillar and the front grille, also set the QX30 apart in a crowded segment.

To help buyers choose the model that suits their needs, it’s available in six trim levels: QX30, QX30 Luxury, QX30 Premium, QX30 Sport, QX30 Luxury all-wheel drive (AWD), and the top-of-the-line QX30 Premium AWD that I drove. The wide range of trim levels, however, results in a price difference of nearly $10,000 between the base and top-trim level, before adding optional packages.

Infiniti’s around-view monitor in the rain.

Impressive technology includes the new Intelligent Park Assist system that uses twelve sensors to park itself in parallel and reverse-in spots, available as part of the Technology Package ($2,200) or standard on the Sport trim. Happily, the test model came with this package that also included blind spot and lane departure warning systems, intelligent cruise control, an around view monitor, and forward emergency braking.

Powered by the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 208 horsepower and 258 lb.–ft. of torque matched to a seven-speed automatic dual clutch transmission, it should earn an EPA estimated fuel economy of 21 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 30 mpg for the AWD. I averaged 27 mpg during the weeklong test drive. The front-wheel drive should achieve three more city/highway mpgs.

The Intelligent AWD also included a drive mode selector to customize the ride and handling. For increased fuel efficiency, I chose the Economy mode and for tighter steering on Austin’s curviest road, FM 2222, I selected the Sport mode.

Inside, the QX30 showcases premium materials selected by Infiniti designers. The test model included the optional Café Teak Theme Package ($1,750) featuring brown Nappa leather seating and accent pieces, the Dinamica headliner, and genuine wood trim. Navigation was also added as part of a package ($1,850), which also added front and rear parking sensors.

Standard creature comforts on all QX30s include Intelligent Key, a rearview monitor, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control with rear seat vents, Infiniti InTouch with a seven-inch screen, and HD radio.

The QX30 Premium grade I drove added a Bose ten-speaker premium audio system, a rain-sensing windshield wiper with heated washers, the around view monitor, LED fog lamps, chrome trunk finisher, and aluminum kickplates. Oddly, neither the tilting telescopic steering wheel nor the tailgate were automatic.

Pricing for the 2017 QX30 starts at $30,945. The as-tested pricing came to $48,035.

Sî: The QX30 Premium is one of the sleekest crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) in its segment, favored by beautiful design.

No: The need to purchase packages to get features like a blind spot monitor and navigation in a premium segment was disappointing.

Note: Nissan is recalling 2017-2018 Infiniti QX30 vehicles. The driver’s air bag may unexpectedly deploy due to insufficient grounding of the steering components if an electrostatic discharge occurs and the air bag clockspring is broken. Owners may contact Infiniti customer service at 1-800-622-6200, option 7 or go to www.safercar.gov.
Dec 172015
 

2015-06-09 SBS.q50,gs350.fr.lic

Weekly car loans allow me to review vehicles for my readers, but it’s rare to have two vehicles delivered the same week that happen to be direct competitors. Such was the case when the Lexus GS350 F Sport and Infiniti Q50S arrived in my driveway. In a side-by-side comparison, these midsize luxury performance sedans managed to distinguish themselves. Here’s how they measured up.

Powertrain

A sports car sets itself apart in several ways, ride, handling, and most importantly, powertrain. The GS350 came equipped with the 3.5-liter V6 with direct fuel and port injection, 306 horses and 277 lb.–ft. of torque. The 3.7-liter V6 that powered the Q50 offered more horsepower, 328, but less torque, 269 lb.–ft.

Transmissions included an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters on the GS and a seven-speed automatic, also with paddle shifters, manual shift mode and downhill rev matching on the Q50. They both included a drive mode selector to allow drivers to choose among Normal, Eco, Snow, or Sport modes on the GS and Standard, Eco, Sport, Personal, or Snow modes on the Q to enhance performance.

Q50 grey leather seats with purple accent stitching.

Q50 grey leather seats with purple accent stitching.

ES350 beige leather seats.

GS350 beige leather seats.

The F Sport Package on the GS added Sport S+ mode, a sport tuned adaptive variable suspension, and Variable Gear Ratio Steering, among other features.

While all-wheel-drive is available, the test models were configured as rear-wheel-drive sedans; the GS sat on a front independent double-wishbone and independent multi-link rear suspension and the Q sat on a sport-tuned independent front and rear suspension that gave it the rougher ride expected from a performance sedan. Adding to the Q’s sportier feel was speed sensitive power steering, making the Q50 a bit more fun to drive.

The expected fuel economy for each was practically identical with the Q50 earning 20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city, one more than the GS, and both earning 29 mpg on the highway. I averaged 22 mpg with both.

Technology

GS350 12,3-inch display.

GS350 12.3-inch display.

Q50 center stack.

Q50 center stack.

As luxury nameplates, these sport sedans should be generously equipped with technology. Standard features on both included review cameras, traction and stability control, and anti-lock brakes, but the GS 350 trumped the Q50 by including Safety Connect with automatic collision notification. That neither included a blind spot monitor as a standard feature was disappointing.

The entertainment systems on both included an AM/FM stereo, CD player, Sirius Satellite Radio, and Bluetooth with voice recognition, but the Q50 included its infotainment system, InTouch and two USB connections, while the GS 350 added iTunes tagging, traffic, and climate information via HD radio. The optional navigation system on the Lexus brought Enform infotainment and a striking 12.3-inch display screen with three sections. Navigation on both was optional.

Looks

Inside and out, both vehicles were easy on the eyes. I’m a big fan of the distinctive spindle grille on the Lexus and Infiniti’s muscular lines. Both came with leather seating, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry, dual –zone climate control, and a sunroof. While fancier features like heated seats were optional on the Lexus, they were standard on the Infiniti. The craftsmanship and fit-and-finish on both exuded quality.2015-06-09 SBS.Q50.gs350.lic

Value

With a starting price tag that was $5,000 more than the Infiniti and about $10,000 more in packages and extra features, the GS350 surpassed the Q50 in plushness. The as-tested price for the 2015 GS350 F Sport came to $59,200, while the as-tested price for the 2015 Infiniti Q50S came to $47,755.

 

Sí: Both vehicles bore striking exteriors and elegant interiors.

No: They both came up short when it came to standard technology.