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There are almost too many options out there when it comes to compact crossovers. These vehicles seem to hit the sweet spot between practicality and sportiness, something that has massive appeal for drivers. Due to the sheer number of them, it can be hard for a compact crossover to stand out.
Infiniti tries to break free from the pack by offering an upscale experience. The 2021 QX50 fits right in with the rest of this brand's vehicles. It has a generous amount of cargo space, sleek exterior design, and a highly satisfying engine that makes this SUV enjoyable to drive.
Last year, Infiniti added two new trim levels to the QX50 family. They continue on for the 2021 model year, meaning that you will have five models to choose from in total. The entry-level Pure model has some of the luxury you would expect from Infiniti, while the Autograph pulls out all of the stops.
Which is the right 2021 Infiniti QX50 for your needs? The following is a breakdown of the five trims and what their standard equipment list includes, as well as what features are available.
Compare the 2021 Infiniti QX50 Pure vs QX50 Luxe - What is the Difference?
For all of the 2021 models, Infiniti gives the QX50 the same turbo 2.0L four-cylinder engine. It will have you making 268-horsepower along with 280 lb-ft of torque. The driving experience is smooth thanks to the continuously variable transmission. Unlike many other CVTs, the one for the QX50 seems smooth and responsive.
Also included with the Pure model are driver-selectable modes, with the options being Eco, Sport, Standard, and Personal. When properly equipped, all models of the QX50 can tow up to 2,000 pounds.
All models of the new QX50 come standard with front-wheel drive. Any trim, including the entry-level Pure, can have all-wheel drive as well. In the city, the QX50 with front-wheel drive is estimated to get 23mpg. This number jumps up to 29mpg on the highway. Opting for an all-wheel-drive model will mean 22mpg city and 28mpg highway. While not class-leading, these numbers are pretty good.
Sitting underneath the Pure trim are 19-inch silver-painted wheels. This trim does not offer 20-inch ones as an upgrade, something that most other models do. The side mirrors are power-adjustable and there is an integrated rear spoiler. For the windows, Infiniti gives drivers UV-reducing privacy glass.
LED headlights, including signature daytime running lights, are found in the front of the 2021 QX50. The brake lights also are LED and include a center-mounted stoplight. Also found on the back of the QX50 are stylish dual-exhaust ports. A power liftgate is standard for the Pure and adds extra convenience to the SUV.
Sitting down in the cabin, drivers will instantly notice the illuminated push-button ignition. Going right along with this is the sequential welcome ambient lighting. There is dual-zone automatic climate control as well as rear vents located on the back of the center console so that everyone can stay comfortable.
Leatherette is the upholstery of choice for the Pure trim level. The driver has eight-way power adjustment as well as luxurious lumbar support. For more versatility, the rear seats slide, fold flat, and even recline. The cabin of the QX50 has a sporty look and feel with its leather-wrapped steering wheel complete with paddle shifters and illuminated audio and cruise controls.
There are dual touchscreens for controlling the infotainment system in the QX50 Pure. The top is 8-inches and the bottom is 7-inches. You get Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth for streaming music or listening to messages.
There is a six-speaker audio system and four total USB ports when you stick with the entry-level model. There is also satellite radio to keep you entertained while on the road. A Wi-Fi hotspot is standard for the entire 2021 QX50 line.
The Pure trim level has an incredible number of standard driver assistance features for buyers to check out. They include lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear automatic braking. Also found on the Pure trim is what Infiniti calls its predictive forward-collision warning system with emergency braking and pedestrian detection. Rounding out the high-tech safety features are blind-spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, automatic high beams, and intelligent cruise control.
When buyers go with the Luxe trim, the same 19-inch wheels come standard. However, 20-inch black-painted wheels are also an option. Multiple exterior features are added, including a power moonroof, LED fog lights, and aluminum roof rails. A remote start system is also included on this model. Heated outside mirrors are optional.
The cabin of the Luxe looks very similar to that of the Pure. A close inspection will reveal that the Luxe trim has textured aluminum accents rather than painted on ones. The rearview mirror gains an auto-dimming feature as well as the HomeLink system. This feature can be used to link the QX50 with compatible garage doors and security systems. The front seats also gain heat when you choose the Luxe.
Perhaps the most convincing reason to step up to the Luxe trim is the ProPilot Assist feature. It is a semi-autonomous driving system designed to take some of the strain off of the driver. Included in the system is a steering assist feature as well as full-speed stop and hold.
The Luxe trim has its own appearance package that can be added on. In addition to the 20-inch wheels, it includes a black grille mesh and black outside mirror caps. Other exterior components, such as the front grille surround and the liftgate handle, are dark chrome. Inside, the appearance package gives the Luxe trim graphite headliner.
Compare the 2021 Infiniti QX50 Luxe vs QX50 Essential Trim Level. What is the Difference?
The Essential trim level also sits on 19-inch wheels but it cannot be upgraded to 20-inches. It does add some exterior appeal, however, in the form of standard heated mirrors and rain-sensing windshield wipers in the front and back.
Inside, the Essential trim gives buyers the option of getting leather-appointed upholstery and a heated steering wheel. The tech features are very similar, although the Essential trim does throw in a free trial for a couple of SiriusXM's more sophisticated services.
The Essential model gets what Infiniti calls the Around View camera system. On top of multiple cameras, it uses front and rear sonar. The advanced setup has a moving object detector to help prevent accidents. Other upgrades include traffic sign recognition and integrated navigation complete with lane guidance and 3D graphics.
Available for the Essential model alone is a convenience package. It gives you many of the most important features that are added by higher trims, including the upgrades to the seats and steering wheel. Also included are reverse tilt-down mirrors and power-adjustment for the steering wheel column.
Compare the 2021 Infiniti QX50 Essential vs QX50 Sensory Trim Level. What is the Difference?
Going up another trim on the ladder will land you on the Sensory. It costs over five thousand dollars more than the Essential. No mechanical upgrades are made, so the Sensory trim attempts to earn its considerable price tag with luxury features. This is the first trim level to ride on 20-inch wheels standard. Otherwise, it looks exactly the same as the Essential model.
While dual-zone automatic climate control remains standard, tri-zone is now an available option as well. Sunshades for the rear passengers are also optional. Leather-appointed seats are now standard as well as dual-occupant memory settings for the driver's seat. Also adding to the upscale feeling of the Sensory model is the standard heated steering wheel.
The Sensory trim upgrades to a seriously impressive 16-speaker sound system from Bose. This premium audio setup includes a subwoofer. As for the steering wheel, this is the first model to get power tilt-and-telescoping abilities standard.
Choosing the Sensory model will make it easier to keep your eyes and attention on the road. This is because it comes standard with a head-up display, which projects the information you need directly into your line of sight on the road. Whether or not this feature pushes the Sensory model over the edge and justifies its price tag is a matter of opinion.
Compare the 2021 Infiniti QX50 Sensory vs QX50 Autograph Trim. - What is the Difference?
For the trim-topping Autograph model, Infiniti gives the QX50 all that it has to offer. This model has dark-painted 20-inch wheels that are exclusive to the Autograph. Also found on the exterior are reverse tilt-down side mirrors. One important upgrade for the outside of this model for busy families will be the motion-activated power liftgate. Inside, the passenger seat gets two-way power-lumbar adjustment.
The most noteworthy addition for the Autograph is the direct adaptive steering function. This eliminates the actual mechanical connection between your steering wheel and tires. Instead, a digital signal that can be interpreted up to 1,000 times per second is used. The driver gets to choose between Sport and Sport Plus modes, with the latter giving you quicker steering.
Tri-zone automatic climate control is standard for the QX50 Autograph, plus the front seats are "climate-controlled." This simply means they are both heated and ventilated. The model has even more sophisticated ambient lighting in the cabin. It also has those previously optional rear sunshades as part of the standard equipment list.
The plush cabin of the Autograph trim has upgrades such as brown suede headliners. There are also metallic finishers in the cargo area. Natural maple wood accents on the dashboard and doors help to complete the upscale look that the 2021 QX50 Autograph trim is going for.
Exclusive to the Autograph trim is the available Premium White Leather package. Adding it will make the already fancy cabin look even more luxurious. It includes white leather for the upholstery with contrasting side inserts. Also found in the package are blue suede inserts for the headliners, doors, center console, and more.
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Which Trim to Choose?
Ultimately, the entry-level Pure trim does not have enough going for it to justify its price or earn it the luxury SUV title. Buyers will want to step up to at least the Luxe model, which adds things like a moonroof and remote engine start. It also gives you the ability to add things like heated front seats without adding a whole package.
For the most complete SUV, however, the Essential model is the way to go. It comes standard with the heated front seats, plus some extra safety features and navigation. While the Sensory and Autograph models both have plenty of bells and whistles, few buyers will find that they have the substance behind them to justify the hefty price.
The Essential trim sits right in the middle of the 2021 Infiniti QX50 lineup and is a beautiful compromise between features and cost, making it the right choice.
• Compare the 2020 Infiniti QX50 Trim Levels