Infiniti finally debuted its new QX55 this week, which it says is the “spiritual successor” to the Infiniti FX, later known as the QX70, later not known at all. The QX55 is the kind of car that from a product planning perspective makes a ton of sense but also feels like the opposite of a gamechanger.
The QX55 will arrive in the spring, powered by a 268-horsepower turbo four-cylinder routing its power to a CVT. All-wheel-drive is standard. Infiniti did not release pricing, but you can expect it to start somewhere between the QX50, which starts at $37,950, and the QX60, which starts at $44,350.
The QX55 will offer three trim levels: Luxe, Essential and Sensory. It will come with Infiniti’s two-screen infotainment system, and you can get a leather interior, though anyone who has sat in a QX50 will find the interior largely the same.
Perhaps the only slightly interesting thing about the QX55 is its styling, which features lots of lights and lines. Infiniti’s press release gushes the styling since this is supposed to be a slightly slicker-looking QX50:
The signature double-arch grille is complemented by a stunning, origami-inspired mesh pattern that delivers visual depth and showcases modern Japanese-inspired artistry. Flanked by standard LED headlights that mimic the human eye, the QX55 announces its arrival in style.
Along the body sides, the QX55's alluring profile has plenty to say but doesn’t speak out of turn. The elegant and flowing lines reach from the hood, over the front fenders, across the doors, and over the rear wheels. Twenty-inch wheels are standard on all QX55 models, which fill the wheel arches and assert the SUV’s dynamic presence.
The rear of the QX55 accentuates the subtlety of the automaker’s design and interpretation of Japanese minimalism by coupling an uncluttered liftgate with handsome, understated technology to deliver a lasting impression. Digital “piano key” taillights combine 45 separate LEDs in a single housing to create an elegant light signature, recently featured on the stunning QX60 Monograph design study. The INFINITI logo on the tailgate is similarly advanced and houses the power liftgate release, which further frees the rear end from clutter.
The QX55 is based on the same platform as the QX50, so styling is one significant way to differentiate it. The wheels will be 20-inchers.
All of which is to say that it’s hard to see the QX55 changing the narrative for Infiniti, which suffered a year-over-year sales decline of 21 percent across the board in the U.S. in 2019. That breaks down as a year-over-year sales decline of 16 percent for its SUV lineup and a year-over-year sales drop of 26 percent for the QX50 in particular. Those are sales declines before a pandemic — in a market that couldn’t get enough SUVs.
More optimistically, the QX50 is the only Infiniti to sell better in 2020 compared with last year, so I’m guessing Infiniti is hoping that the QX55 will hit similarly. Still, I beg someone, anyone, to explain to me why one would opt for a new Infiniti SUV instead of, say, a Volvo XC60. If your answer is that I’m missing the point, and that in fact Infiniti is just a branding exercise to help Nissan push past its image, well, I won’t argue.