Quite possibly the most over-used word in the modern-day product lexicon is Sport.
Head over to Amazon and you’ll find everything from a Polaris Sport pool cleaner, to a Hart Sport toaster rack, to Sweat X Sport laundry detergent.
The automotive world is arguably the worst Sport over-usage offender. Ever driven a Ford Bronco Sport? It’s about as sporty as a koala with a eucalyptus hangover. A Honda Odyssey Sport? It’s a minivan for goodness sake.
So what to make then of Infiniti’s newest addition to its curvy QX50 compact SUV family, the 2023 QX50, you guessed, Sport?
Infiniti describes its $48,500-and-up soft-roader as having a sporty vibe. And I have to admit the changes do make it pretty snazzy.
Design-wise there’s a whole new front fascia, with a more-aggressive-looking lower bumper, blacked-out grille surround and Infiniti badge.
You’ll also find new, stealthy, black-painted 20-inch wheels at each corner. And pretty much every piece of shiny-metal trim around the windows, along the rear roof pillar, even the exhausts are all glossy black.
Lord Vader your new ride is parked outside with the keys on the dash. May the Force be with you.
Inside, the cabin is already pretty sporty-looking, especially if you opt for the two-tone, red-and-black leather seat trim and carbon fiber-look accents. And cranked-up, the Sport’s Bose Premium sound system with 12 speakers can sound pretty sporty.
But that’s about it. No increase in power, no tighter suspension or bigger brakes. No wider tires. But at least there’s a “sport” mode setting that sharpens the steering response, adds Red Bull to the engine and makes the transmission more responsive.
That said, the QX50’s standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is plenty perky. It makes a healthy 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque that’s enough to zap it from standstill to 60mph in 6.4 seconds.
The Infiniti showroom guys will no doubt extol the virtues of the engine’s VC-for-Variable-Compression design which, in principle, is pretty smart.
It’s able to raise or lower the stroke of the pistons and choose the best compression ratio based on your driving style. The idea is that it can switch between performance and efficiency, delivering the best of both worlds.
In truth, you won’t notice much, if any, difference. That said, drive with a gentle right foot, and you should see up to 30mpg on the highway.
But this QX50 Sport AWD I’ve been driving – $51,695 out the door – is a terrific all-rounder that adds spice to every commuter run, every shopping expedition, every drive to dinner.
No, it’s not as zippy as, say, a BMW X3 or Audi Q5. There’s more body lean through the curves, less precision in the steering, less bite when you stand on the brakes. Infiniti’s focus with the QX50 is still on luxury rather than sport.
But unlike its European rivals, the Infiniti delivers a smooth, composed ride, soaking up lumps and bumps like ink on a blotter. And the $2,000 optional all-wheel-drive – front-drive is standard – adds traction and peace of mind.
Inside, this QX50 Sport is a lovely place to spend time. The front seats hug you in all the right places and have ample power adjustment. And Infiniti still does terrific, crystal-clear instruments with intuitive controls. Cool shifter lever too.
There’s also a ton of cutting-edge driver-assistance tech as standard. Like Infiniti’s ProPILOT Assist, 360-degree AroundView Monitor, and a head-up display. The list of features is impressive.
In the back, there’s no shortage of room for a couple of adults, and a pull of a lever lets the split-folding rear seat recline. Fold the seat flat and there’s an impressive 64 cubic feet of load space. PODS storage units aren’t this roomy.
No, this QX50 Sport might not be the Usain Bolt of compact SUVs, but if offers that terrific balance between sport and luxury. Which is what most of us really want.