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LA LIVE: 2019 Infiniti QX50

by Ronan Glon

The continuously variable engine is here; as is a new SUV from Infiniti.

Infiniti has unveiled its brand-new 2019 QX50 on the eve of the 2017 Los Angeles auto show. The SUV inaugurates the world's first production-ready variable-compression ratio engine.

Billed as a breakthrough in engine tech, the VC-Turbo engine is a 2.0-liter unit equipped with a multi-link system that continuously raises or lowers the piston's reach to change the compression ratio on-the-go. The figure varies between 8:1, for sportier driving, to 14:1, for more efficient driving.

It generates 268 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 280 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm in its most potent configuration. The sprint from zero to 60 mph takes between 6.7 and 6.3 seconds depending on how many wheels receive power.

If efficiency is the order of the day, the front-wheel drive model returns 27 mpg in a combined cycle versus 26 mpg for the all-wheel drive model. Infiniti notes those figures represent improvements of 35 and 30 percent, respectively, over the outgoing V6.

The VC-Turbo engine shifts through a continuously variable transmission, which is to be expected from what is essentially a continuously variable engine. Front-wheel drive comes standard, a drastic departure from the outgoing model's rear-wheel drive setup, and all-wheel drive is offered at an extra cost.

It's not just an engine, though. Built on an all-new platform, the 2019 QX50 falls in line with Infiniti's current design language by adopting a wide grille with mesh inserts, sharp headlights, and a sculpted hood. It looks brawnier than its predecessor, at least when viewed from the front. Photos of the rear end haven't been published yet.

We haven't seen what it looks like inside, either, but Infiniti gave us an idea of what to expect in terms of space. The QX50 offers up to 37 cubic feet of trunk space with two rows of seats up, or 60 cubes with the rear seats folded flat.

On the tech front, the QX50 will become the first Infiniti available with parent company Nissan's ProPilot Assist suite of electronic driving aids. Already offered on the second-generation Leaf, ProPilot Assist controls the vehicle's steering, acceleration, and braking during single-lane highway driving. Infiniti stresses its goal isn't to deliver full autonomy anytime soon.

"Infiniti's customers have stated their desire to remain a key element in the driving equation, so the brand's vision for driver-assistance technology is a step removed from the notion of fully autonomous "driverless" motoring embraced by some carmakers," the company writes in a statement.

Pricing for the 2019 Infiniti QX50 will be announced at a later date.

Live photos by Drew Johnson.