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The Best of 2021 Infiniti

What Does the Infiniti Lineup for 2021 Look Like so Far?

Infiniti Q Inspiration concept previews the next-gen Infiniti sedans

Nissan’s premium division hasn’t enjoyed the best of years in 2019. Its U.S. sales have dipped to their lowest point in last five years as only 117,708 models left the dealer lots during that time. This is a drop of 21 percent compared to 2018 when the brand had marketed 149,280 vehicles and even larger one compared to Infiniti’s record-breaking year of 2017 when 153,415 Infiniti cars had found their new owners in the U.S. The 2021 Infiniti range will be boosted by an all-new Q55 crossover which should offset the sales losses materializing from the QX30’s discontinuation. In fact, the larger QX55 is expected to do much better than the outgoing Mercedes-Benz GLA Class rebadge, but probably won’t be able to stop the bleeding on its own. Other models will have to kick in as well.

Although the Nissan Group still hasn’t disclosed its totals for 2019, we know that Infiniti’s sales have experienced a similar slump all across the world. Not to mention the fact the automaker has pulled out of western Europe and Australia altogether. Nissan isn’t the only to blame as most car manufacturers find themselves in a similar position due to lower demand for new cars on a global scale. However, by not introducing a single new model in years, Infiniti certainly hasn’t made things easier for themselves. What’s more, the revolutionary variable-compression-ratio VC-turbo engine which made its debut in the redesigned QX50 never managed to deliver what was expected from it. That’s why the only model with acceptable losses is surprisingly the hulking QX80 whose 2019 figures shrunk by less than 100 units over 2018 (19,113 of them were marketed).

Nissan’s premium brand is planning on introducing five all-new models within the next three years, completely updating its lineup in the process. One of them is the above mentioned QX55 coupe crossover while others will mostly be replacements for aging models within the current range. However, an all-electric SUV will also be part of the mix and it doesn’t have a spiritual predecessor in today’s Infiniti portfolio. There’s plenty of time before that happens as neither apart from QX55 will make it in time for MY 2021, so let’s take a closer look at which Infiniti vehicles to pay attention to next year.

2021 QX55

The all-new Infiniti QX55 is company’s first ever coupe-like crossover. As its nomenclature would so obviously suggest, it’s based on the compact luxury QX50 which provides more than just a platform. Initially scheduled to arrive during mid-2020, the QX55’s production has been pushed back some five months to November of 2020. The Japanese didn’t provide too many details about the delay aside from the fact they want to “ensure production capability” at the Aguascalientes, Mexico plant where the new model will be assembled.

Infiniti still hasn’t revealed the upcoming car aside from publishing a teaser image which only confirms initial suspicions that the QX55 will sport a sloping roofline. Elegant and graceful, the coupe-inspired crossover probably won’t be the most practical of Infiniti models. It should be one of the most beautiful ones, however. Once it finally arrives, and that should be the end of 2020 at the earliest (likely early 2021), the new Infiniti will be pitted against the likes of BMW X4 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Class coupe.

2021 Infiniti QX55 teaser image

Interior should be similar to that of the QX50 crossover. More so than the exterior, most likely. In that respect, expect more or less the same materials and cabin layout with a corresponding list of standard and available gear to boot. A dual-screen infotainment setup is a safest bet at this point but Infiniti might still decide to change things up and use the QX55 as a test bed in that respect. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration will be standard from the get-go and so should most advanced driving aids. Even a semi autonomous driving mode might be offered as an option.

Power is expected to come from the QX50’s own 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder we’ve mentioned above. The VC-Turbo variable compression mill cranks up 268 horses and 280 pound-feet of twist and pairs with a CVT gearbox for further improved fuel economy. Front-wheel drive is standard but all-wheel drive is available as an option. The new Infiniti QX55 should borrow all of QX50’s powertrain bits which is more than enough for a vehicle of its size.

The 2021 Infiniti QX55 should start from just under $40,000 once it finally reaches dealer lots a month or two after the start of its production. Expect the top spec models to retail for around $55,000 or thereabouts. This price range slots perfectly between the QX50 and QX60 which best states the coupe-like crossover’s purpose. It’s a more expensive and stylish version of company’s entry-level crossover which, maybe doesn’t offer much more than the QX50 in terms of capability, but appeals to a different kind of audience – one that doesn’t care much about utility as long as their car looks the part.

Infiniti QX55 should resemble the QX50
Infiniti QX50 pictured

2021 QX80

As already mentioned above, the QX80 is the only Infiniti on the U.S. market that’s managed to keep its head above water against the onslaught of negative sales trend. The full-size SUV has only experienced a statistical error in terms of sales loss as its 2019 results were 0.5 percent weaker than those from a year before. The hulking luxury body-on-frame doesn’t change for MY 2021 despite the fact it stems from now distant model year 2011.

The QX80 has received its last update for MY 2018 when revised front and rear fascias made their debut. The boxy SUV still features a somewhat polarizing styling but its buyers which are plentiful for a vehicle of its badge and class obviously don’t mind that. The largest of Infiniti cars weighs over 6,100 pounds which makes it one of the heaviest vehicles on the market. Not only do its sheer measurements and amount of steel used in creating them play a role in this, but the QX80’s rich feature set too.

Speaking of which, the QX80 comes with standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection and lane-keeping assist. Adaptive cruise control is still optional though. As of MY 2020, the QX80 also offers an updated dual-screen infotainment setup with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as standard pieces of equipment. Third row is, naturally, standard, and so are second row captain’s chairs. And while its rivals offer slightly more comfortable third row, the QX80 replicates with best in-class storage capacity behind it.

There’s only one engine powering the large SUV and it’s a burly 400-horsepower 5.6L V8. Although quite powerful, it guzzles fuel like there’s no tomorrow, returning only 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway in rear-wheel drive configuration. An optional all-wheel drive setup imposes a single point penalty in both categories. Every QX80 comes with a 7-speed automatic transmission.

The Infiniti QX80 might not be the most practical of luxury SUVs currently available on the market in terms of modern requirements (read fuel economy above all else), but then again, neither of its competitors can say it’s doing a particularly better job either. The luxury land yacht will always have its own dedicated group of buyers and Infiniti needn’t worry about it. They should, however, pay closer attention to the remainder of their lineup – especially in the wake of recent troubles they’ve been experiencing.

Infiniti QX80

2021 Q50

Although sedans aren’t the focal point of any lower-volume automaker – especially a luxury one like Infiniti – that doesn’t mean there are a lot of manufacturers willing to take measures as drastic as Ford. The compact executive sedan is still one of Infiniti’s better-selling cars although its sales hit rock-bottom in 2019 with only 25,987 deliveries in the U.S. That’s a downturn of 25 percent from a year before and a far cry to the record-breaking 2016 when 44,007 Q50 managed to find their new owners.

Although still a looker, the Infiniti Q50 is obviously beginning to show its age now considering it’s been introduced in 2014. What’s more, it carries over into 2021 with only minor changes related to available equipment and insignificant trim updates. The handsome compact’s interior is probably where the aging process has taken its biggest toll as outdated materials simply can’t compare with what the competition offers right now. Even the more advanced driver assist features are only available as options although much more affordable non-luxury cars have them listed as standard nowadays.

As of 2020, the entry-level 2.0L turbo four engine is no more. Every Infiniti Q50 now comes with V6 firepower but there’s still room to make a choice. Whether in rear or optional $2,000 all-wheel drive, all conventional Q50’s now come with a 300-horsepower 3.0L twin-turbocharged V6 mill paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission. The choice I just mentioned is called the Red Sport 400, and as its name suggests, it’s a performance-oriented version of the car which squeezes 400 ponies out of the same engine. It’s also got retuned steering and suspension for better handling experience.

Starting from $36,500, the Infiniti Q50 undercuts most of its rivals, but that was to be expected considering how a number of them has already been completely overhauled for the next decade. Although much more exciting, the Red Sport 400 models come with a hefty price penalty as they start from north of $56,000. With Infiniti seemingly doing nothing to rectify the mentioned issues, the Q50 is in for another agonizing year in terms of sales, and that trend probably won’t stop anytime soon.

Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400

2021 QX50

The remodeled compact luxury QX50 is arguably the biggest disappointment for the brand. By redesigning it from the ground up and introducing an all-new variable-compression ratio engine, Infiniti surely must have expected its sales to go up. Instead, they went the other way. Not just that, but with only 18,616 deliveries within 2019, the QX50’s sales have actually plummeted hard compared to pre-facelift 2018 figures of 25,389 units. That’s a 26 percent drop which is unacceptable for what was supposed to become the company’s bread and butter vehicle.

The QX50 carries over into 2021 without major updates as 2022 has been scheduled as a facelift year. It did receive a host of updates for MY 2020, although neither of them were cosmetic. New Sensory and Autograph trims now top the range, while automatic high-beams, blind-spot monitors, lane-departure warning, rear automated emergency braking, and rear cross-traffic alert are now standard across the board.

The mentioned variable-compression VC-Turbo engine sports a complex mechanism which changes the relative piston position over its stroke that, in turn, adjusts compression between 14.0:1 and 8.0:1 depending on situation. We’re yet to see how an additional number of moving parts is to impact the engine’s reliability in the long run but promised fuel savings definitely haven’t been achieved. Although the EPA rates it at 24/31 mpg, you’ll have to be light-footed in order to achieve these figures.

The engine itself cranks up 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, while pairing up with a CVT gearbox. Front-wheel drive is standard, but for another $2,000, you can get all-wheel drive regardless of chosen trim level.

The QX50 probably won’t become the best of 2021 Infiniti models, neither it’ll manage to overthrow the larger QX60 as a sales leader. It starts from a little over $38,000 with destination fees included and works its way to the $55,000 mark which is the base price of Autograph models.

Infiniti QX50

2021 QX60

With 43,162 units delivered in 2019 which is a drop of almost 9 percent compared to record-breaking 2018 when Infiniti delivered 47,370 QX60’s across the U.S., the mid-size luxury crossover stands out as the Japanese automaker’s best-selling model by far. First introduced back in 2012 as the JX35, the QX60 is slowly but steadily becoming a senior in its segment. Infiniti hasn’t announced any plans to refurbish its best-selling model for MY 2021, hence it carries over unchanged.

Design-wise, the QX60 seamlessly blends in with the rest of Infiniti range thanks to company’s hallmark cues. Big and comfy, the three-row offers everything that up to eight passengers might ever need on both the long and short drives. While automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist have been available for a while, blind-spot monitors have only become standard in 2020. Adaptive cruise control, meanwhile, is still available at extra cost. The QX60 uses an 8-inch touchscreen display for infotainment purposes. This might change in 2021 as two-screen layout is becoming more and more widespread across Infiniti cars.

After the hybrid model’s discontinuation back in 2017, there’s only one engine powering the QX60 now. A 3.5L V6 paired with a continuously variable transmission is good enough for 295 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of rotational force. Both the front and all-wheel drive are available regardless of chosen trim level. The former configuration returns up to 20/27 mpg, while the latter is rated at 19/26 mpg.

The Infiniti QX60 isn’t getting any younger, but without it, Nissan’s luxury division would have been in even bigger trouble. It currently accounts for more than one third of their total sales in a lineup that’s five (soon to be six) models deep. Prices start from $45,000 but the QX60 doesn’t offer a true top-spec model considering how the Luxe trim (currently on top) costs only $2,000 more.

Infiniti QX60

Future Models

As already mentioned in the introduction, Infiniti is planing on introducing five new vehicles within next three years. The most important of them might be the all-new Infiniti EV crossover inspired by the QX Inspiration concept. Likewise, the Q Inspiration concept car previews the next-gen flagship sedan while the Qs stands in for a smaller sedan. The most exciting prospective future Infiniti model might just be the Q60 Project Black S which features Formula 1 technology.

Infiniti QX Inspiration

Presented at the 2019 Detroit auto show, the QX Inspiration concept previews the company’s upcoming EV. It’s their first foray into the all-electric market but likely won’t be the only given some more time. Exact arrival still hasn’t been confirmed but Infiniti’s lineup is expected to be fully electrified by 2025, so expect it between 2022 and then at the latest. The QX incorporates a dual electric motor setup with battery tucked away underneath the floor. Specs haven’t yet been revealed either and it’s likely that we’ll have to wait a few more years before the Japanese come out with more palpable information.

Infiniti QX Inspiration concept will spawn the company's very first EV

Infiniti Q Inspiration and Qs Inspiration

The Q and Qs Inspiration represent the future of Infiniti sedans. Like the QX crossover, they too will be electrified, but unlike their crossover counterpart, won’t be fully electric. Instead, they’ll use Nissan’s e-Power gasoline-generated hybrid powertrain based on the new VC-Turbo mill. The Variable-compression engine will serve as a generator that feeds the batteries which, in turn, power the electric motor. Again, the exact arrival date is still shrouded in mystery, but given the fact Infiniti alraady has a platform upon which to build their powertrain, the sedans are expected to arrive before the EV crossover.

Infiniti Q Inspiration concept previews the next-gen Infiniti sedans

Infiniti Q60 Project Black S

Arguably the most exciting car Infiniti has ever designed, the Q60 Project Black S is a result of a collaboration between the company and the Renault F1 Team. Based on the Q60 Red Sport 400 coupe, the Project Black S packs no less than 563 horsepower – courtesy of a heavily revised 3.0L twin-turbo V6 engine. The engine is equipped with two heat-energy harvesting systems (MGU-H) and a kinetic harvesting system (MGU-K). The former recover energy from car’s exhaust systems (regardless of whether it’s braking or accelerating) and then use it to spool turbo’s into life. The latter, on the other hand, recovers energy exclusively during braking and then helps the engine power the wheels.

The hybridized setup is certainly in-line with Infiniti’s future plans of sporting a completely electrified lineup by 2025, but the car itself is hardly justifiable from price’s standpoint. That’s why Infiniti will likely ultimately decide against producing it although the final decision hasn’t been made yet. If they decide to give it a green light, the powerful F1 technology-inspired Q60 will likely be offered as a limited-run model.

Infiniti Q60 Project Black S

Nikola Potrebić
About Nikola Potrebić

Despite driving a piece of junk, Nikola still manages to survive the harrowing experience called "A road trip in a Yugo," day in, day out. On the other hand, precious few things move him as muscle cars do. Especially those from the bygone golden era, which makes him wonder why wasn't he born a few decades earlier? Well, at least he's been given the opportunity to enjoy the likes of the Pontiak Aztek, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Fiat Multipla, and other lovely millennials, right? Come to think of it, I'll stick with my Yugo. Thank you very much!