2017 Infiniti QX30 Premium AWD: Monthly Update for April and May 2017
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
We spent April and May getting to know the 2017 Infiniti QX30, mostly driving it to and from the office on city streets and highway. Josh Sadlier managed to get it a little dirty, however, motoring the QX30 to a trailhead at Topanga State Park in the Los Angeles wilds. And Dan Edmunds learned firsthand that the QX30 isn't quite as advanced as it might seem, sustaining an episode of upper-arm trauma courtesy of the crossover's archaic door lock design.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
We're just getting started with this test, having only added around 2,220 miles by the end of May. We've logged fuel economy results for 1,900 of those miles, and over that span the QX30 is returning 20.3 mpg combined. The QX30's EPA numbers are 25 mpg combined (21 city/30 highway), so we're well off the mark already. But those miles include almost 30 miles of hard performance testing (including repeated acceleration and brake testing) and also one tankful that seems to be an anomaly, requiring 14 gallons after just 220 miles.
For comparison, early in the test we recorded a similar tankful — one fewer gallon, actually — in which we traveled nearly 100 miles more. Either someone reset the trip meter too late, or we just drove that tank really hard, but if we eliminate that fill-up and our track-testing usage, we're looking a little better: 22 mpg combined over 1,654 miles. The QX30 looks even better if we examine only the fuel economy during our 115-mile evaluation loop of city, mountain and highway driving: 24.2 mpg
Average lifetime mpg: 20.3
EPA mpg rating: 25 combined (21 city/30 highway)
Best fill mpg: 23.9
Best range: 314.2 miles
Current odometer: 2,148 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"Has one of the best stop-start systems. Restarts are quick and don't feature any sort of bump or kick. But the best part is you can creep up as traffic inches forward or as the drive-thru line moves up and it will shut off again. Other systems won't shut off until you exceed a speed threshold and reset the system, which effectively nullifies them in these normal situations. Kudos to Infiniti for getting this part right." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing
"Premium fuel requirement is clearly noted on the fuel door. I'll never grumble about pumping in the pricey stuff if the engine feels like it's worth it, and that's certainly the case here. I'm particularly impressed by the low-end torque from the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, which the QX30 borrows (along with much more) from the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. This one gives you enough shove by 2,000 rpm that downshifts are rarely necessary. Let the revs climb and the power pours on, making the QX30 feel pretty quick in most situations. With performance like that, paying a few more cents per gallon seems perfectly reasonable." — Josh Sadlier, senior manager of content strategy
"Familiar Mercedes cues inside: center console buttons and switchgear, seat controls mounted in the upper door panel, steering column stalks, even the switch for selecting Eco/Sport/Manual drive modes with its little cyclone graphic. Sadly, the transmission feels Mercedes familiar as well — that would be Mercedes CLA/GLA familiar, which we've rightly savaged in every drive and test we've done with either of those cars. Apparently Infiniti has done its own powertrain tuning, but to no discernible effect, which underscores the awfulness of this gearbox. Soft, spongy accelerator/turbo lag makes the QX30 undrivable in default Eco mode, and barely tolerable in Sport. — Dan Frio
"Ouch! My arm! Didn't we get rid of stupid door lock plungers that stick up in the 1980s? I thought everyone has gone to flip levers mounted by the inside release handle. The QX30 employs the old plunger style that stands up from the door panel, where it's perfectly positioned, even in the lower LOCKED position, to give you a deep tissue bruise if you: A) drive with your arm resting on the sill of the open window or B) reach out through the open window to receive food at a drive-thru restaurant or cash at a drive-up ATM — both scenarios that became common after the pop-up plunger first appeared in the '60s (and one could make a strong argument that they led to this design's demise). It seems Infiniti (or perhaps Mercedes) did not get the memo." — Dan Edmunds
"Narrow rear window, small rearview mirror, tapering side window line — visibility is not this car's strong suit. Glad we have a surround-view camera." — Dan Frio
"This feels small. The seating position is too high for me, a 6-footer. I am peering through the top-most portion of the windshield and my hair brushes the headliner. The panoramic sunroof is probably not helping with this latter issue, but there's no getting around the view out the windshield." — Jason Kavanagh, engineering editor
"Strange that the available settings for the headlight knob aren't illuminated, unlike the foglight buttons and the knob itself. I'd just leave the headlights on 'auto' if I were the owner, so it's not a big deal, but I needed to turn on my phone's flashlight to verify the setting when I first got into the car. Unusual." — Josh Sadlier
"Inside, the QX30 makes me think of a rich café mocha, with the chocolate brown leather seats and the sleek faux-leather dash and trim that come with the Cafe Teak package." — Kathleen Clonts, copy chief
"I unexpectedly bumped my head getting into the QX30 after stopping at the grocery store. I'm only 5-foot-7, taller than the average woman but definitely not taller than most of the guys driving this car. I also snagged my shirtsleeve on the door lock (the same one Dan dug his arm into). No harm done in either case, but minor annoyances all the same." — Kathleen Clonts
"I'm surprised that a power liftgate apparently isn't available on any QX30. With the liftgate in its fully open position, my 5-foot-3 wife found that the handhold required an uncomfortable reach skyward, while the liftgate itself required an undue amount of effort to close. Not the end of the world, but isn't the point of luxury vehicles to make things like this easier?" — Josh Sadlier
"If you're going to borrow from Benz, borrow the best. And Benz has, hands-down, the best adaptive cruise control in the business (Volvo may be a close second). This system is calibrated finely enough that it doesn't panic as you close in on the lead vehicle, or even when someone slips a little too close into your path of travel. There's no abrupt braking, then slowing. It's just a nice, quick deceleration, almost like a very good EV brake regeneration setting like in our Bolt. The system even speeds up a tick when you're under adaptive cruise, then signal and start to move for a lane change, provided the lane ahead is clear. Smart system and a good thing to borrow from Benz." — Dan Frio
"Love the front parking camera. This is becoming a more common feature, and for me, widespread adoption can't come soon enough. All of the damage I've caused to cars has come while parking, so I need all the help I can get. It's a relief to see where every potential frontal hazard is located while I'm positioning the vehicle." — Josh Sadlier
"I kept describing the QX30's color as rose gold-ish, until I looked it up on Infiniti's site. It's called Liquid Copper. It definitely has flesh-colored undertones to it. A man approached me at the car wash to say he liked the color, noting that it was a hue he'd never seen before. He sent my eyes rolling when he added that it was a great color 'for a girl.' I noted that the color has caused some controversy in the office, and he said, 'I can see that.' " — Kathleen Clonts
"You can save $3,000 by opting for the QX30 over the Benz GLA; maybe that's part of the appeal. Attractive lease rates might be another. But why would you buy this over a Volkswagen GTI, for example? Because it has 8 inches of ground clearance and skid plates? I'm curious to start reading the owner's comments as they start streaming in." — Dan Frio