We tend to eschew concept cars for our Top Ten list on the grounds that anyone can build a prototype and float pie-in-the-sky claims. But the QX50 is an exception, and for more than its energetic crossover design. First, this Infiniti is real, and its technology is coming to showrooms soon, including the first variable compression-ratio engine ever. The new 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine can adjust its piston stroke to vary compression from about 8:1 to 14:1, heightening efficiency at the lower range and performance up top.
Infiniti pledges to have the engine in at least one new Infiniti—likely this QX50—by 2018, with a target of 198 kilowatts (266 horsepower) and 390 newton meters (288 foot-pounds). The QX50 itself will replace the current, compact EX35 crossover. And with Nissan, Infiniti’s parent, targeting 2020 for its first fully autonomous car, the QX50 also previews new ProPilot technology, able to negotiate stop-and-go highway traffic and also recognize and track surrounding vehicles.