Last week, Infiniti rolled out the refresh of the big daddy QX80 in Dubai. At this year's Los Angeles Auto Show, the Japanese automaker is poised to reveal something that's bound to be far more mainstream: the 2019 Infiniti QX50 and its trick variable compression turbocharged engine, or VC-T. In addition to the new engine, the QX50 drops rear-wheel drive in favor of an all-new front-wheel-drive platform and gets the new ProPilot assist technology that debuted on the Nissan Leaf.

The QX50 may be the headliner, but the engine is the really interesting bit. This 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four can adjust the stroke of the pistons on the fly, varying the engine's compression from 8:1 to 14:1, and giving the new midsize crossover improved efficiency and diesel-like torque. It's rated at 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, down 57 horses but up 14 pound-feet. Front-wheel-drive models hit 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. That drops to 6.2 seconds with all-wheel drive.

Combined fuel economy is 27 mpg for front-wheel-drive QX50s and 26 mpg for all-wheel-drive variants, both up from the abysmal 20 mpg combined rating of the current model. Power is sent through a continuously variable transmission. If it's like other Nissan and Infiniti CVTs, it will be inoffensive if a bit lifeless. We've covered the details of this powertrain extensively already, but it's great to see companies giving more life to the internal combustion engine.

The new platform marks a big improvement over the outgoing QX50 in terms of platform rigidity and space efficiency. Rear-wheel drive might be fun, but it's never ideal from a packaging perspective. Cargo capacity is up from 31.6 cubic-feet to 37 cubic-feet. With the seats down, the space expands to 60 cubic feet, up from 50.1 cubic feet. That's not exactly class-leading, but it's no longer among the class-worst. The 2019 QX50 will use a new type of high-tensile steel, improving torsional rigidity by 23 percent and shaving overall weight.

The styling falls in line with most other Infiniti products. The outgoing model had a bit of an identity crisis, looking more like a lifted wagon than a fully-realized crossover (it was, after all, essentially a G35/G37 wagon). This new one has much more conventional SUV proportions. In fact, it looks like a 7/8-scale version of the new QX80 with a front-wheel-drive profile. That's either good news or bad news, depending on where your tastes fall. The QX50 concept from earlier this year turned out to be a pretty accurate preview.

The ProPilot assist system adds a number of active safety and convenience features. It's not a fully-autonomous system, and that half-measure has us concerned. Nevertheless, the QX50 comes with features like adaptive cruise control and lane keeping steering assist. It's unclear if the Leaf's parking assist will be available.

The QX50 goes on sale next year, going head-to-head with models like the Lexus RX, Cadillac XT5 and Acura RDX. Pricing hasn't been announced, but expect a base MSRP of $35,000 to $40,000.
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