2021 Infiniti Q50 Review

Jeff Youngs, Independent Expert | Sep 07, 2021

Introduction - Find the best Infiniti deals!

Like almost every other automaker that sells cars in the United States, Infiniti has shifted its primary focus to enhancing and expanding its portfolio of crossover SUVs. Indeed, the QX50 was redesigned for 2019, and for the 2022 model year, Infiniti is introducing not one but two new crossover models—the QX55 with its sloped-roof, sportback styling, and the 3-row QX60. Factor in the full-size QX80—not a crossover, but an SUV, nonetheless—and the Japanese luxury brand now sells twice as many SUV models as it does passenger-car models.

One of those two car models is the Q50 4-door sedan. The 2021 Infiniti Q50 shares space on Infiniti dealer showroom floors with the sporty Q60 2-door coupe. 

The Q50 first arrived for the 2014 model year, replacing the popular G37 sedan and notable for being the first Infiniti model to utilize the brand's new naming convention. While the Q50 hasn't changed all that much since 2014, regular incremental updates to the car's styling, powertrain, and equipment essentially add up to the equivalent of a 7-year mid-cycle refresh.

The 2021 Infiniti Q50 is available in five trim levels: Pure, Luxe, Sensory, Signature Edition, and performance-oriented Red Sport 400. All come standard with rear-wheel drive; all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional on all trims. 

Changes for 2021 include the addition of two new trims: Sensory and Signature Edition. The former includes unique front and rear styling, leather sport seats, and a premium 16-speaker Bose audio system, whereas the Signature Edition builds on Sensory equipment with dark chrome exterior trim, 19-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels, auto-dimming outside mirrors with reverse tilt-down, unique badging, and exclusive Saddle Brown leather seats.

Other updates to the 2021 Infiniti Q50 lineup include upgrades to standard and optional package content, a standard Wi-Fi hotspot, new driver-assistance features on Luxe trim and above, standard power-folding mirrors on Sensory and Red Sport 400, and new black carbon fiber interior trim and black exterior trim for the Red Sport 400. Also, Slate Gray and Grand Blue hues join the exterior color palette.

What Owners Say About the Infiniti Q50 - Find the best Infiniti deals!

2021 Infiniti Q50 Signature Edition AWD Grand Blue Front Quarter View

Photo: Jeff Youngs

The Infiniti Q50 competes in the Compact Premium Car segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 66% of new Infiniti Q50 buyers are male (vs. 63% for the Compact Premium Car segment), and the median age of a Q50 buyer is 54 years (vs. 55).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the Q50 in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Powertrain
  • Driving feel
  • Feeling of safety
  • Setting up and starting
  • Driving comfort
  • Getting in and out
  • Interior design
  • Infotainment system
  • Fuel economy

In the 2020 APEAL Study, the Q50 ranks seventh out of eight Compact Premium Cars.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Infiniti Q50 - Find the best Infiniti deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert provides an analysis of a 2021 Q50 Signature Edition AWD equipped with the following options:

  • Grand Blue exterior paint (extra cost)
  • Infiniti Radiant Exterior Welcome Lighting
  • Cargo Package (carpeted trunk area protector, cargo net, First Aid kit, and shopping bag hook)
  • Rear USB charging ports

The price of the test vehicle came to $52,800, including the $1,025 destination charge.

Getting In and Getting Comfortable

2021 Infiniti Q50 Signature Edition AWD Grand Blue Front Seats

Photo: Jeff Youngs

As it is a traditional passenger car, rather than a taller crossover SUV, the lower seating position in the Q50 requires a little more effort to get in and out of the vehicle compared to, say, the QX50. With most crossovers, ingress and egress isn't something you typically think about—you just slide in and out, the seat hip points being exactly where they should be. In the Q50, however, there's a little more work involved.

To get in the Q50, both legs and neck must bend so as not to smack your head on the top of the door opening. Rather than sliding into the Q50, it's more of a controlled pouring of your body into the seats. While this likely won't present a problem for most drivers, some may not care for the exercise.

Once situated in the car, the driver and passengers alike are greeted with a spacious and attractive cabin. The front seats are supportive and comfortable; their unique zero-gravity design makes them especially livable on longer hauls. The Saddle Brown leather seats in the test car are both attractive and well crafted. Front-seat head- and legroom in the Q50 are abundant, but due to the car's relatively modest dimensions and sloping roofline, some rear-seat occupants may feel a bit cramped, especially adults.

The test car's interior was attractive, blending a nice mix of leather, aluminum, and carbon-fiber trim. Storage options, however, are another story. Hidden behind a folding panel at the base of the center stack is a small storage compartment suitable for small items. Unfortunately, a smartphone isn't one of them.

The two cupholders in the center console are adequate for beverages but won't hold an average-size phone, either. There is a padded front armrest with a storage compartment housing a 12-volt power outlet and two USB connection ports (one Type-A, one Type-C). Presumably, this is where you would put your phone to store and charge it. While this arrangement was a little frustrating, it does help to wean the driver from glancing at their phone while driving.

2021 Infiniti Q50 InTouch Infotainment System Review

2021 Infiniti Q50 Signature Edition AWD Grand Blue Interior Dashboard

Photo: Jeff Youngs

The 2021 Q50 comes standard with Infiniti's dual-screen InTouch infotainment system, which consists of the following features:

  • 8-inch upper screen
  • 7-inch lower screen
  • Infiniti Controller
  • Voice recognition
  • Bluetooth hands-free phone system with text-messaging assistant
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto
  • HD Radio
  • Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Infiniti InTouch Services (a suite of connected services including navigation, entertainment and communications, convenience and concierge, and safety and security features)
  • Infiniti InTuition (fully customizable digital environment for storing driver settings to the Intelligent Key system)

Optional infotainment system features include:

  • SiriusXM satellite radio
  • SiriusXM Travel Link (provides access to weather, fuel prices, stocks, sports, and movie times)

The test car also had the following infotainment options:

  • Navigation system (includes lane guidance, 3D building graphics, five years complimentary access to premium traffic, MapCare, voice recognition for navigation functions, automatic collision notification and emergency call, Wi-Fi hotspot, SiriusXM Traffic including real-time traffic information)
  • Bose Performance Series audio system (includes 16 speakers, Bose Performance CenterPoint simulated sound, CD player))

The InTouch system in the Q50 was, generally speaking, user-friendly and intuitive. Pairing an iPhone via Bluetooth was quick and easy, and making and receiving calls and sending text messages via Apple CarPlay was drama-free.

Toggling audio sources between local radio stations, satellite radio, and music stored on my phone was easy using a button on the lower display screen. The 16-speaker Bose Performance Series premium audio system delivered crisp, powerful audio. The car's relatively small cabin and positioning of the different speakers aided the overall sound acoustics. The standard CD player was a nice touch of nostalgia.

As is the case with most of the built-in car navigation systems I've tested, I found it easier and more intuitive to use the smartphone-based Maps app with CarPlay compared to utilizing the InTouch system with the Infiniti Controller. It's not the most obtuse system I've ever used, and perhaps more time spent with the built-in system would aid my proficiency, but for ease of use, it's hard to beat CarPlay. 

Also, the map graphics on the upper information screen are pretty low-tech for a modern navigation system. It was reminiscent of the graphics on my old portable Garmin GPS from over ten years ago.

What It's Like to Drive the 2021 Infiniti Q50

2021 Infiniti Q50 Signature Edition AWD Grand Blue Side View

Photo: Jeff Youngs

All 2021 Q50s have a twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter V6 engine. The top-dog Q50 Red Sport 400 has a high-output version of the turbo V6 that makes 400 horsepower; all other Q50s have 300 hp on tap. Torque figures are 350 pound-feet for the Red Sport 400, 295 pound-feet for all others. Both engines are coupled with a 7-speed automatic transmission with Sport mode, manual-shift mode, and downshift rev-matching.

With a 300-hp twin-turbo V6 and AWD on tap, acceleration in the test car was quite brisk. There was no noticeable turbo lag, and power delivery through the 7-speed automatic was smooth. The power was accompanied by an equally pleasing engine/exhaust note, but overall cabin noise at speed was unobtrusive. 

Indeed, the Q50 is one of those cars where the speed can sneak up on you. However, should you find yourself traveling above the speed limit, the brakes are up to the task, providing smooth, easy stops time after time.

Whether driving in town, on two-lane country roads, or the Interstate, the Q50's suspension provided a controlled, composed ride. It soaked up construction-zone bumps better than expected, offering a premium ride without compromising handling. Bumps were well-damped, and vibrations rarely made their way up through the steering column.

Infiniti Safety Shield Review

2021 Infiniti Q50 Signature Edition AWD Grand Blue Driving Assistance System Menu

Photo: Jeff Youngs

Surprisingly, the 2021 Q50 does not come with ProPilot AssistNissan and Infiniti's advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) suite. Not only is it not standard on the Q50, but it also isn't available at all in the U.S. market, a somewhat glaring omission considering it is standard on several Nissan models costing thousands less. 

Nevertheless, the automaker does equip the Q50 with Infiniti Safety Shield, which includes several safety- and technology-related ADAS.

Standard ADAS features on all 2021 Q50 trims include:

Standard items on Luxe and higher trim levels include:

Additionally, the Red Sport 400 offers Moving Object Detection when reversing.

During my week with the Q50, the various driving aids behaved themselves, never sounding any false alarms and not interfering with the drive in any way. The forward-collision warning system did activate on one occasion as I approached a turning vehicle at a closing speed faster than the ADAS liked. While I was fully aware of the situation and didn't need a warning, I was glad to know the system worked. Also, a well-marked button on the steering wheel made it a breeze to adjust the following distance for the adaptive cruise control. 

2021 Infiniti Q50 FAQ - Find the best Infiniti deals!

2021 Infiniti Q50 Signature Edition AWD Grand Blue Trunk Room

Photo: Jeff Youngs

How much cargo space does the 2021 Infiniti Q50 have?

While there's nothing remarkable about the cargo area in the Q50, the car's trunk is slightly larger than that of its main competitors. The Q50 holds 13.5 cubic feet of cargo, accessed via a remote trunk release in the driver's area or a button on the key fob. A trunk pass-through feature built into the rear seat is helpful when transporting long, skinny items. The cargo area is illuminated to help while loading or unloading in the dark, and four utility hooks come standard.

Does the 2021 Infiniti Q50 get good gas mileage?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the 2021 Infiniti Q50 is rated to return between 22 and 23 mpg in combined driving. Compared to its main competitors, these figures are on the low side. 

The 300-hp Q50 AWD's official EPA rating is 22 mpg in combined driving, and the test car returned 21.8 mpg during a week of testing. With its 20-gallon fuel tank, this result translates into a maximum driving range of 436 miles.

Is the 2021 Infiniti Q50 safe?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hasn't performed crash tests on the Infiniti Q50. However, the agency did give the Q50 a highest-possible 5-star rollover resistance rating.

Meanwhile, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Q50 Good ratings in all four crashworthiness tests, including for moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats. The Q50 also received a Superior rating for vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention. 

Headlight ratings, on the other hand, are a mixed bag. While the Q50 with curve-adaptive headlights (available as part of the ProActive Package on the Red Sport 400) received an Acceptable rating, all others received a not-so-great Marginal rating.

How much is the 2021 Infiniti Q50?

The Infiniti Q50 is a relative bargain, with starting prices several thousand dollars below its main competitors from BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes. 

Pricing for the 2021 Infiniti Q50 ranges from $36,700 for the base Pure trim to $55,850 for the Red Sport 400. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option and is available on all trims. Two optional equipment packages are available: Seat & Sound (available on Luxe trim) for $2,500, and ProActive (available on Red Sport 400) for $1,950. The destination fee is $1,025.

What are the 2021 Infiniti Q50 competitors?

In the J.D. Power 2021 Initial Quality Study, the Lexus RC/RC F ranks highest in the Compact Premium Car segment. The BMW 4 Series and the Lexus IS are the next highest-ranked models.

In the 2020 APEAL Study, the Genesis G70 ranks highest in the Compact Premium Car segment. The BMW 3 Series and the Lexus IS are the next highest-ranked models.

Other competitors to the 2021 Q50 include the Audi A4/S4Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Volvo S60.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Infiniti deals!

2021 Infiniti Q50 Signature Edition AWD Grand Blue Rear Quarter View

Photo: Jeff Youngs

While the Infiniti Q50 has some redeeming qualities, such as its sporty exterior design, capable powertrains, and accessible pricing, it's hard not to think that Infiniti has somewhat neglected its sole luxury sport sedan offering while cranking out new and heavily updated crossovers. Much of that is understandable, considering American car buyers' seemingly insatiable appetite for crossovers and SUVs. But the Q50 deserves better than that.

Its G-Series predecessors—the G37 and the G35—had some swagger and were legitimate BMW 3 Series contenders. But just when it seemed like Infiniti was gaining traction in the compact luxury sport sedan market, the automaker seemed to go in a completely different direction with the redesigned 2014 model. And while the current-generation Q50 is, by most objective measures, superior to the G that it replaced, it seems to have lost its mojo along the way.

Jeff Youngs has more than 25 years of experience in the auto industry, including 19 years with J.D. Power in both marketing and editorial management roles. He also spent nearly six years with General Motors as a media relations pro.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2021 J.D. Power

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