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Sharp looks, a powerful engine, a sophisticated interior and a reasonable price make up for a less rear end space.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - With its bold grill, low air dam and fastback styling, the 2022 Infiniti QX55 looks as good as it drives.Crossover are so popular these days, manufacturers are able to offer versions that don't necessarily make much sense on paper. Take the current wave of "fastback coupes." They are basically conventional SUV with the squared off backs replaced by sloping hatches. That results in less cargo space and rear seat headroom compared to their boxier siblings.

The goal is to make them look sportier. But only those that are actually sporty deserve to be taken seriously. Fortunately, the 2022 Infiniti QX55 succeeds on both fronts. A fastback cousin of the more traditional existing QX50, the new model looks great — squat and purposeful — and drives even better, thanks to its sophisticated turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, well-controlled suspension and standard all-wheel-drive.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The sharply angled rear hatch gives the 2022 Infiniti QX55 that utility of a wagon.

It is an impressive accomplishment, given how much had to go right to truly stand out in such a competitive market these days.

The QX55 even manages to conquer the greatest challenge facing automakers trying to balance performance and economy — making a Continuously Variable Transmission drive like an automatic. Because they can be tuned to maximize mileage, more and more manufacturers have been switching over to them to meet government standards. But the earliest ones provided poor acceleration and freeway passing ability, and some still do. The CVT in the QX55 drives like an automatic, however, especially in the Sport mode which increases throttle response.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The interior of the 2022 Infiniti QX55 looks more like a high-end sports car than a crossover SUV, which is appropriate.

Frankly, I'm not surprised. Nissan, Infiniti's parent company, was one of the first manufacturers to offer responsive CVTs in their affordable vehicles. It's only logical that Infiniti does, too.

The QX55 is offered in three trim levels: Luxe, Essential, and Sensory. Even the least expensive Luxe comes with a wealth of standard features, including heated front seats, a glass moonroof, active noise cancellation, and a long list of safety features. The mid-grade Essential trim adds navigation, leather, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a 360-degree camera system. The top Sensory trim adds open grain wood trim, better leather, a motion-activated liftgate, and ambient interior lighting and more.

Compared to the competition, all of them are bargains. The starting price of $46,500 is just a little more than an equivalently equipped affordable crossover SUV. Our fully loaded version was under $59,000, which is thousands less than luxury Germany crossover with the same features.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Even with the fastback styling, there is still a lot of cargo space in the 2022 Infiniti QX55.

In a week of testing, the 2022 Infiniti QX55 was always a pleasure to drive. The large air dam and dual hood crests promised a level of performance that was always delivered. The interior was both luxurious and sporty, especially the deeply sculpted front bucket seats. The two stacked displays provided a wealth of data, especially the lower one that easily brought up traffic and weather information. And the Bose stereo was live concert quality.

The only downside was, because of the slope of the hood, it was hard to see the front corners from the driver's seat. A 360 degree camera helped with parking in tight spaces, however.

If you're thinking about making the change to a coupe-profile SUV, the 2022 Infiniti QX55 should be at the top of your list.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - A powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and all-wheel-drive are standard on the 2022 Infiniti QX55.

2022 Infiniti QX55

Base price: $46,500

Price as tested: $58,770

Type: Compact crossover SUV

Engine: 2.0-liter turbo (268 hp, 280 lbs-ft)

Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission

EPA estimated mileage: 22/28

Overall length: 184.7 inches

Curb weight: 3810 pounds

Final assembly: Aguascalientes, Mexico


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