SUVs

2019 Infiniti QX50 sports mega MPG gains from new engine tech

And all it took was a slight reimagining of the internal combustion engine!

You can't tell from this angle, but there's witchcraft hiding beyond those body panels.

Infiniti

There's a secret weapon hiding inside the 2019 Infiniti QX50, and it's responsible for some very serious improvements in fuel economy.

The EPA has rated the 2019 Infiniti QX50 at 24 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, for a total of 27 mpg combined. This is vastly superior to the outgoing model, which was rated at just 17 city, 24 highway and 20 mpg combined. And it's all thanks to some extra linkages inside its four-cylinder engine

Whereas the old QX50 made do with a 3.7-liter V6, Infiniti rolled out a brand-new kind of engine on the 2019 model. Called the VC-Turbo engine, it relies on an additional set of linkages bolted between the crankshaft and the connecting rods. This allows the engine to change its compression ratio on the fly. This way, it can run a low compression ratio to increase power output when it's necessary, otherwise defaulting to a high compression ratio to improve efficiency.

The result is an inline-4 that makes V6 levels of power while producing diesel-like efficiency. It puts out 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque -- a little less power than the old V6 made, but there's more torque and the VC-Turbo's power comes on earlier in the rev range, meaning it's more usable in daily driving.

Infiniti plans to electrify its entire lineup by 2021, but until then, the VC-Turbo will help Infiniti bridge the gap between thirsty gas engines and more efficient hybrids and plug-in hybrids. We took the VC-Turbo for a spin when we tested the new QX50, and we found the compression-ratio transitions seamless.