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2019 INFINITI QX50

2019 INFINITI QX50

By Vaughn Lowery × Anthony Sovinsky

As of late, we had the opportunity to test drive a pre-production QX50 during a three-day press launch at West Hollywood’s newest boutique property, La Peer Hotel.

The days are slowly fading, at least in the automotive industry, where bigger isn’t always better. The biggest engines, the most valves and absurd fuel consumption aren’t necessarily needed to create fast responsive engines. For Earth’s sake, this is a very economical and environmentally friendly path to take. Less fuel consumption while improving power output is the wave of the future and Infiniti is one of many leading the way. The newly redesigned 2019 Infiniti QX50 stocks a VC-Turbo Engine with all-new DriverAssist technology and lightweight skeleton.

Let’s start with the heart of the vehicle -the engine. What’s important to note is how much more economical the VC-Turbo Engine is in comparison to the 2017 QX50 and its stiffest competitor, the Lexus RX. The newly designed engine is a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder which produces an impressive 268 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm while creating an astonishing 280 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm. This means quicker acceleration and consistent pull through the entire power band. The QX50 is able to stretch a gallon of fuel up to 27 mpg city/hwy which is a 35% increase in fuel economy from the previous model, making it the most economical vehicle in its class. The Lexus RX comes in 4 mpg less while also lacking in the torque department. Infiniti for the win!

Complementing fuel efficiency is its all-new lightweight platform. The frame only weighs 923.7lbs and the weight-to-size ratio is the best in class. Designed from high tensile material it enables the car to resist flex, vibration and reduces noise pollution inside the cabin for a more luxurious ride. Now fitted with McPherson suspension, commonly used on BMW, the QX50 is ready for spirited driving. Furthermore with the increased structural integrity, the suspension appears to be more responsive, providing the driver with greater control and cornering.

When it comes to safety, there’s one thing which comes in mind – how well does it stop? Infiniti added a new braking system designed for control under most conditions. The vehicle is fitted with ventilated front brakes which are larger than the previous model, measuring in at 13 inch in diameter. Moreover, a new brake booster and tie rod system has been added to reduce the need for higher brake pedal pressure. Depending on customer preference, there are two wheel/tire and two drivetrain options available. The tires come in 19 inch wheels with 235/55R19 tires or 20 inch wheels with 255/45R20 tires – both available in run flats and reinforced rubber sidewalls to allow up to 93 miles with reduced air pressure. For the drivetrain, one can choose between the intelligent AWD or the standard FWD. Better grip, braking and handling attributes can be expected with the AWD upgrade.

The exterior stays true to Infiniti’s “Powerful Elegance” language. Several features set this model apart from its predecessors. It’s overall sculpture is influenced by aerodynamic efficiency which adds to the muscular yet sleek design of the crossover. Every curve (mostly on the hood) and shape of the QX50 is fully functional, improving its drag coefficient by 6%. The front fascia boasts its usual distinct double arched grille. Furthermore, it is equipped with the signature LED headlight design that gives an appearance of an intense stare-down. Slightly sitting higher with larger wheels, you are reminded, ‘its more than just a good look but a sporty companion.’

Ergonomics are apparent inside the cabin. Upfront are two zero-gravity NASA seats alongside of a passenger-minded asymmetrical architecture, allowing both driver and passenger to feel connected and co-operative. On the dash board sits the InTouch infotainment center featured on dual screens for ease and convenience. It allows passengers to stream media from handheld devices via Bluetooth – including music ,texts and photos (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not yet available). The Bose Performance Series audio system is designed specifically for the QX50’s underpinnings to produce optimal sound quality. It’s loaded with 17-speakers and delivers an unmatched audible experience. Above head is panoramic moon/sunroof which stretches from the front to back seats complete with a motorized blackout curtain. It enhances the roominess, especially for backseat passengers who wish to stargaze. Also in the rear is a sliding rear bench which alters both legroom and cargo room for whichever is needed most. The quilted seat packages offer a bespoke feel coupled with ultra suede middle console, pillars and headliner. Moreover, manually retractable rear window nets offer additional privacy as well as sun protection when paired with factory tint.

Driver connectivity is further enhanced with ProPilot – a feature which allows single lane driving assistance. This helps with driver fatique during bumper-to-bumper traffic and long drives. As the name implies, this patented technology assists the driver in identifying road hazards as well as other drivers which could potentially cause accidents. Moreover, ProPILOT also helps manage acceleration, braking and steering in single lane travel. For whatever reason, when activated it makes both the steering and brakes feel firm and tenacious. We tested it on the whiny roads of Muholland Drive; and it practically drove itself even while descending (activation normally lasts upto 20 secs or until it falls back in between the 2 lines). In addition, the newly introduced heads-up display in lower windshield allows the driver to fixate more on the road and less on the navigation. Also works well with polarized eyewear and shades.

In short, the 2019 Infiniti QX50 AWD fully loaded model prices just under $60,000 which isn’t quite so bad considering the brains of this bodacious beauty. Not to mention, the overall performance is extremely desirable and nimble at times. This is an amazing buy for a millennial executive with room for a modern family or empty nesters with a few adult children in tow.

For additional information on this vehicle and available trims visit: https://www.infinitiusa.com/crossover/2019-qx50/

2018 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE TRACKHAWK 

The hawk is one of the most powerful birds in the sky. It dominates its territory by fiercely navigating the air, swooping in on its prey with incredible speed and accuracy. Now apply those characteristics to a vehicle and you discover something that is ferociously fast, nimble and adaptable with unprecedented performance.   


by Anthony Sovinsky × Vaughn Lowery 


The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is an AWD SUV equipped with the notorious Hellcat engine. A supercharged 6.2 liter V8 delivering 707hp with 645 ft-lb of torque in a 8-speed automatic with Quadra-Trac active on demand 4WD that catapults this brute from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds, howling across the quarter mile in 11 seconds and reaches a top velocity of 180 mph. There are no other SUVs in the world exhibiting this type of performance besides the Lamborghini Urus (650hp w/ 626lb-ft torque starting around $200,000). With a height of 67.9 inches, you will be staring at the roof of many vehicles which are capable of keeping up, especially if you follow Launch Control instructions – this bird soars 0 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds. 


Weighing in at 5,636lbs, it is armed with an enlarged Brembo performance anti-lock braking system. Up front, the Trackhawk is fitted with big 15.8-inch rotors with 6-piston calipers; and in the back end, it passes 13.8-inch rotors with 4-piston calipers, making it come to a halt from 60 mph in a mere 114 feet. The bright yellow calipers nicely compliment the 20×10 inch black satin aluminum wheels ($995) encased in meaty 295/45ZR20 BSW 3 season tires ($895). Moreover, Blistein competition suspension containing active dampening keeps it firmly planted with very slight roll. Select-Track system allows the driver to elect five different modes – auto, sport, track, snow and tow (w/ 7200lb capacity).   


Many drivers in a metropolis are defensive, but some aren’t able to concentrate on what’s in our peripheral during a concrete jungle safari. Precisely for that reason, several safety features have been implemented: parallel and perpendicular park assist; LaneSense lane departure warning; full speed forward collision warning; advanced brake assist; adaptive cruise control to stop, blind spot and cross path detection; park view rear backup camera; and last but certainly not least, a valet mode that significantly reduces horsepower (to about 200 hp) and torque to make the car more manageable to the unfamiliar.   


Carrying on to the exterior, the Jeep is tastefully badged with “Trackhawk” emblems (on floor mats as well as rear back gate) and a “Supercharged” side door steel plate informing spectators of what’s under the hood. The front-end features a seven-slot grille equipped with Bi-Xenon HID headlamps. And, similar to its Challenger Hellcat sibling, it features functional air intakes which replace fog lamps to help cool the powerful engine. Continuing towards the boot, Fiat-Chrysler North America (NA) added quad exhaust tips, causing the vehicle to appear more aggressive on most angles.  


Upon entering the cabin, drivers and passengers are welcomed by Napa/Suede “Trackhawk” stamped performance seats, carbon fiber trim, blackened chrome accents and a three-spoke flat bottom steering wheel with paddle shifters. Adjacent, lies the Uconnect 4C NAV with 8.4 inch display which is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Furthermore, the screen can access various drive modes as well as engine performance readouts for the more avid aficionado. And, if you go on to purchase the 2XV package, not only will you have access to a high performance vehicle, but a high performance audio system ($1,995). Outfitted with 19 Harman Kardon speakers alongside a subwoofer and an 825-Watt amplifier. With ample head and leg room, one can expect space for the entire modern family – driver, four passengers and a small to medium sized dog to comfortably run circles in the trunk area. Moreover, there’s adequate room for a few weekender bags to stealthily fit underneath the trunk matt right above the spare tire.  


It’s almost hard to believe that such an SUV exists at such an affordable price point: supercar power plant, all-terrain capabilities, tenacious brakes, moderately precise steering (best in track mode), enhanced suspension offers comfortable cornering and hypersensitive acceleration – no one will ever ask, “Are we there yet?” The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk base price is close to $85,900 and the customer preferred package 2XV adds another $4,980 for a total of $90,880. In short, Fiat Chrysler NA once again delivers a huge bargain which cannot be ignored while delivering tremendous curb appeal. Hence, the Trackhawk will leave enthusiasts watering at the mouth for years to come.   


https://www.jeep.com/2018/grand-cherokee/performance.html