2014 Infiniti Q50S 3.7 Long-Term Update 2
Cruise Control is so 1950. Welcome to the True Autopilot Era
Unless a luxury sedan is woefully underpowered or has some other Achilles heel, sales in the segment are won and lost not under the hood, but in the driver's seat, where automakers are raising the bar considerably for confidence-inspiring safety-and-convenience electronics. And there our long-term 2014 Infiniti Q50S is quite competitive.
Are the Q's systems perfect? No. In fact they come with some annoyances I'll relay below. But I can't wait to tell you about the awe-inspiring magic within. Jonny Lieberman can hardly mention a Mercedes-Benz these days without excitedly -- and justifiably -- blurting "This thing can practically drive itself!"
Well, Mercedes isn't alone. Acura, Subaru, and others all have street versions of early self-driving tech. Our Q50S includes the $3500 Technology Package that pretty much amounts to an autopilot checkbox: It's got intelligent cruise control, forward emergency braking paired with advanced forward-collision warning, lane departure prevention, and active lane control.
The whole setup is controlled by just a few buttons. One selects whether active lane assist is on. You know it's running by looking at a simple graphic on the dash that, when all features are on, shows the car surrounded by a green border. The follow distance on the intelligent cruise control comes in three settings, the closest distance of which still appears to allow for the old 2-second rule.
The magic "self-driving" is triggered when active lane assist is on and the cruise control has a speed set, and it's remarkable. On long, straight stretches of freeway, it does an absolutely great job of staying in the lane and slowing or speeding up for traffic ahead. The adjustments are so smooth, you can't help but have an increasing sense of confidence. The Nervous Nellie hands that hovered above the wheel during the first few tests now are free to perform stretches and knuckle pops without worry that emergency human interaction will be necessary.
Gentle curves are a little more difficult for the system, as it seems to take the nose getting just past the turn-in point before correcting. But the car never drifts into another lane and there isn't the feeling of a panic correction despite the lane-departure alarm occasionally going off. (Sharp curves require driver intervention.)
The system -- at least so far (liability attorneys, please stop reading now) – does not prompt you to place your hands back on the wheel after a set time, as Acura's system does. It'll go for miles if you let it. It also does not appear to have problems with direct sunlight, something we've noticed on other brands.
Obviously, the self-driving aspect of all these systems must be used judiciously. Nobody should break out the iPhone to play JellyCar or anything. But for brief breaks – and for glimpses into the future – it's invaluable.
The safety systems have had a few hiccups. For instance, associate online editor Alex Nishimoto had automatic braking kick in when he was backing up, despite there being no obstacles present.
More seriously, the forward collision prevention system can trigger alarms and braking under some normal, if slightly aggressive, driving situations. I've had it activate twice when quickly approaching a stopped car in my lane. My intention was to quickly switch lanes (yes, at sort of the last few seconds). But the system can't know my intention, so it triggered the start of braking as I began my switch. That's potentially a problem if you're moving to get in front of someone in the other lane.
Coming next time: A closer look at the InTouch infotainment system, and general vehicle settings that have me scratching my head.
More on our long-term 2014 Infiniti Q50S 3.7:
|Service life||4 mo/4843 mi|
|Average fuel economy||18.5 mpg|
|CO2 emissions||1.05 lb/mi|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ||20/29/23 mpg|
|Energy consumption||182 kW-hr/100mi|