2018 Infiniti QX30: Room Without a View
— The 2018 Infiniti QX30 is certainly a head turner — with its combination of swoops and curves, it looks like nothing else on the road. Though interesting from every angle, be it either on-point or on-notice (depending on your tastes), one thing is inarguable: It's easy to spot but hard to see out of.
Related: 2017 Infiniti QX30 Review: First Drive
Subcompact SUVs are trending among the luxury automakers, and they can be divided into two different camps: the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 on one side, with more traditional SUV styling and proportions, and the QX30 and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class that take a different approach, with sleeker styling to make them feel like burly hatchbacks.
With the QX30, its styling leads to a few compromises, and they negatively impact visibility on several different fronts.
The first troublesome spot is the windshield. It has a gradual rake to it, angling back sharply from the hood to meet the roof; that shrinks your vertical field of view from the driver's seat. Compounding the issue is a low dipping roof, especially in the center where a sizable hump makes the ceiling feel even lower. Large A-pillars also cut off the sides of your view a lot.
I tried dropping the seat to its lowest setting and that helped slightly, but many people opt for crossovers because they like sitting higher on the road; lowering the seat defeats that. I also had a couple of shorter colleagues (I'm 5 feet 11 inches while my coworkers are 5-foot-5 and 5-foot-7, respectively), and they confirmed that they, too, had a lot of trouble seeing out of the front of the QX30. One of them even commented, "I feel like that thing [gesture at the center hump and controls] is right up in my face."
Problem No. 2 is its big blind spots. In profile, you can see that the QX30's beltline (the line that runs front to back at the bottom of the side windows) arches upward the farther rearward you get on the vehicle. This is a styling choice; it pinches the rear windows, which makes the crossover look sleeker but also cuts heavily into the visual area you have to see out of (especially to the passenger side). The C-pillar is also very wide and runs all the way into the rear glass, which results in a giant blind spot.
The final problem is rear visibility. Looking out of the rearview mirror is like peering out of one of those cereal box periscopes you made as a kid; the view is thin and not too useful. Those pillars are a culprit again here: Both sides of the mirror are blacked out by their presence.
The lack of visibility also has a negative effect on cabin comfort. The cabin feels closed off, like a pod, especially for rear passengers.
My QX30 test vehicle came with two options that I would say are a must for a QX30 buyer: a panoramic moonroof and an around-view monitor. The roof makes the vehicle feel more open and allows more light into the cabin. The around-view monitor makes the QX30 a whole lot easier to maneuver and park. The high beltline means that objects around the vehicle are hard to see, and the QX30 has a sneakily long nose. To get these two features, buyers will have to opt for a Sport or Premium trim level as they are the only trims to offer either (both were standard on the Sport model I tested, while the around-view monitor is optional on the Premium).
If you are enamored with the 2018 QX30's styling and features, make sure those two boxes are checked and you'll get a small SUV that's got a little pep and funky styling that will have people staring — and you'll have to trust me on that, because you won't be able to see them looking.