Prior to the mid 1980s, Japanese cars were defined by the pedestrian brands of Datsun, Toyota, and Honda. All huge manufacturing keiretsu, all producing construction equipment, heavy machinery, even lawnmowers and motorcycles. When Honda introduced its luxury brand Acura in 1986 to compete directly with the European luxury brands, it proved an inspiration for the other two companies. 1986 had Datsun rebrand its American lineup under the Nissan identity, and in 1989 Nissan introduce Infinit as its luxury vehicle brand. 1989 also saw Toyota introduce the Lexus brand too.
During these last few decades the entire car manufacturing process has undergone dramatic improvements and even budget cars today are easily as well built as an expensive luxury vehicle of 25 years ago. But it’s a global vehicle market, so these three Japanese luxury brands also have their eye on European luxury brands like BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
It’s no surprise I was curious to get behind the wheel of the 2022 Infinity QX55 Sensory AWD when they offered me the vehicle for the last week of 2021. Sporting a premium price tag, its delivery coincided with one doozy of a snowstorm, resulting in two days when I couldn’t even get out of the driveway. It was covered in snow and frozen, but once I cleared the windshield and made it through the snow-covered roads, I could finally enjoy some drive time:
This is a Slate Gray exterior with a gorgeous two-tone leather interior in Monaco Red. In fact, let’s peek at the interior so you can see just how lovely it is:
As is now common, the QX55 has a dual screen personality, with the lower display screen being reserved for vehicle functionality (climate controls, settings, etc), while the upper screen is tied to Wireless CarPlay and Wireless Android Auto. You can, of course, plug your smartphone into the system too through one of the USB plugs immediately behind the cup holders. One is USB-C, one is USB-A, a good compromise for various generations of devices.
What I most noticed when I got into the vehicle wasn’t the leather color scheme, however, but the overall comfort level. If there’s a luxury option available, this Infiniti had it. From a steering wheel that tilts up and driver’s seat the moves backwards when you turn off the car to heated steering wheel, smart rear view mirror, bright lights that auto-dim if someone’s coming towards you, lane correction, adaptive cruise control, it had everything.
In fact, some of the features were too much and I ended up disabling ProPilot Assist because when it detected I wasn’t centered in the lane, it wouldn’t just move me back into the center (helpful) and deliver some haptic feedback (acceptable), but it would slow the car down too (unacceptable). Easily disabled, but it’s possible that with a bit more digging through the zillion Settings I could have disabled this one aspect of the ProPilot system.
The interior is busy with controls, but it all felt quite manageable, particularly the inclusion of the center infotainment system control knob, as is much more visible in this photo:
It was tremendously useful, though I was surprised that there wasn’t a volume control integrated into the system at that point too. Volume was instead adjusted via a control on the steering wheel or the actual volume dial smack-dab in the center of the lower display controls area.
Another aspect of the 2022 Infiniti QX55 Sensory AWD was just how quiet it was on the road. The combination of acoustic glass and an integrated active noise cancellation system meant that it was delightful to chat with a passenger while at highway speeds, without being bufetted by road noise. The lack of cabin noise is definitely a luxury attribute. The audio system took advantage of the quiet cabin too, built around a Bose 16-speaker system that had plenty of volume to spare even in the noisiest driving environments.
Legroom was great for the front passenger and driver, but tall drivers might find that their seat is stealing significant room from the rear passengers:
With all this quite modern design, it was interesting that the main gauge cluster offered a classic design and layout:
You can see that I averaged 24.6mpg. Not great, but the QX55 is one peppy drive that’s really fun, so I’ll reluctantly accept a lower fuel efficiency in return for a very sporty drive experience. This was helped along by the 2.0L turbo 268hp engine with its intelligent all wheel drive system and run-flat tires.
Back to the dash for a minute, you can again see this juxtaposition of the old with the new on the inclusion of discrete physical buttons for climate control on the sides of a digital touch screen for other settings:
Note especially the circular volume control that offers a nod back to car radio designs from the Datsun era!
Stepping out back, the vehicle had decent cargo space:
The designers clearly decided to offer the rear passengers more legroom at the cost of a bit of cargo storage space, however, which is probably quite reasonable for most vehicle owners in this class.
Closing that hatch, you can see the sleek, dynamic lines of the QX55:
That’s about all I have to share on this vehicle. I quite enjoyed the chance to drive the 2022 Infiniti QX55 and think the company has a definite winner on its hands. Smooth, quiet, sporty, and exceptionally comfortable, it’s a nice entrant in the luxury SUV category.
2022 Infiniti QX55 Sensory AWD in Slate Gray with Monaco Red interior. MSRP: $57,050.00. OPTIONS: Premium paint, carpeted floor mats, lighting package and cargo package. AS DRIVEN: $60,045.00
Disclosure: Infiniti loaned me the QX55 for a week in return for this writeup. Thanks, Infiniti!