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Mr. Tophat - Dusk to Dawn Music Album Reviews

The Swedish producer and frequent Robyn collaborator offers an ambitious three-album suite of understated, occasionally disquieting techno nocturnes.
Hardcore Robyn fans already know the work of Swedish producer Rudolf Nordström, aka Mr. Tophat. He co-produced “Baby Forgive Me” and “Beach2k20,” two of the gorgeous, gently filtered house-pop tracks from last year’s Honey; his own 2017 release Trust Me, a three-song, 35-minute EP of throbbing, desaturated grooves, featured Robyn throughout. His latest solo release, Dusk to Dawn, is an ambitious three-album suite of understated, occasionally disquieting techno nocturnes. More melodic than the distortion-warped A Memoir From the Youth, two and a half hours of mostly chill, mid-tempo house conceal interesting moments within slack expanses. At its best, it’s a triple-album endurance listen that rewards partial concentration; at its slowest, it’s an illustration that Tophat’s signature long-format tracks don’t scale.





2019 INFINITI QX50 Review

The 2019 Infiniti QX50 is a beautiful package of technological innovations—in places visible and not visible.

The most advanced gasoline engine on the planet may get lost in the 2019 Infiniti QX50.

The luxury crossover SUV likely will be coveted for its good looks, spacious interior, and advanced safety features—none of those are bad things.

Buyers will notice its fuel-efficiency without knowing what makes the engine work, and that’s just fine. Our score of 7.2 overall reflects our admiration of the new engine and the car wrapped around it, and that’s before safety figures into our equation. 

We start with the inside, like most owners. The QX50 adopts an elegant style direction for Infiniti, evidenced by its stitched dash and comfortable seats. The good news gets better in top trims with diamond-stitched, natural leather and suede inserts, although every version is serenely quiet.

Outside, the QX50 takes elements from other Infiniti vehicles (dramatically kinked roof pillar, open grille, and sculpted hood) and wraps them in a popular crossover shape.

Infiniti fundamentally changes how it delivers power with the 2019 QX50's new engine. Under the hood, a 2.0-liter turbo-4 can vary how much power it delivers based on need by varying its displacement. It's a nifty trick that involves vast amounts of engineering brainpower, but operates seamlessly for drivers.

The bottom line is a 30-percent gain in fuel economy returns over the last generation. The EPA rates the QX50 up to 27 mpg combined.

Five adults won’t have a problem fitting comfortably in the QX50, which boasts a sliding rear seat that offers up to 38.7 inches of rear seat leg room—tops in its class. The front seats are even better; high-density foam borrowed from parent-company Nissan makes the Infiniti QX50 all-day comfortable.

Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking are standard on all QX50s, and active safety features are available on top trim levels.

Base QX50s don’t skimp on features, but we start with the mid-grade and move up from there. The top trim level offers surprising value—and better options.

All trim levels include at least 19-inch wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, power adjustable front seats, and a dual-screen infotainment system. We have our beef with that dual-screen setup—especially that it doesn’t offer alternatives from Apple or Android—but acknowledge that it may not be a deal-breaker.

More attractive to shoppers will be the 27 mpg combined in front-drive versions or 26 mpg combined in all-wheel-drive versions of the QX50.

The 2019 Infiniti QX50 is handsome from nearly every angle; almost gorgeous from the inside, where it matters most.

Infiniti’s latest design direction comes together in the 2019 QX50.

The luxury crossover SUV sports the same elements from other vehicles in the lineup: double-arch grille, dramatic rear roof pillar kink, and bulging hood, but in more tasteful ways.

We like the outside, but we like the inside more. We land at an 8 out of 10. 

The cabin is filled with classy touches that are in Infiniti’s wheelhouse. The cohesive package looks better with more money thrown at it: natural leather and diamond quilting looks the high-class part, while open pore wood and available blue suede headliners add a palatable lick of style. The dual-screen infotainment system may be at odds with the elegant approach, and some trims of the QX50 are let down by black plastic by the gear selector. Those are small quibbles.

Bystanders will get a good view of Infiniti’s latest design language, particularly up front. The sculpted nose is punctuated by an aggressive hood, and the big grille sports an equally big luxury badge up front. From the rear three-quarter view, the light dips and ducks around the doors—breaking up the large swathes of sheet metal required to cover a crossover these days.

The news is under the hood of the 2019 Infiniti QX50. Some may miss that, but we imagine many won’t mind better fuel economy.

The 2019 Infiniti QX50 boasts an excellent drivetrain with tech that’s easy to overlook.

Wrapped in luxury crossover clothes, the 2.0-liter turbo-4 under the hood is a remarkable achievement for its frugality and ingenuity.

We give it two points above average for the technological marvel, and another point for ride. The QX50 lands at an 8 out of 10. 

The short of the long: Infiniti’s variable compression 2.0-liter turbo-4 can fundamentally change how it operates to save fuel or provide more power. It’s the first mass-produced, mainstream variable-compression engine, and it nets a 30-percent improvement in fuel economy without sacrificing quickness compared to the V-6 it replaced.

On paper, the turbo-4 makes 268 horsepower, which is less than the 325 hp found in the outgoing version. Torque is up in the new version: 280 pound-feet compared to 267 lb-ft in the V-6.

The net for most drivers will mean more low-speed power in around-town cruising but less top-end power high in the rev range. Most drivers may willingly make that sacrifice for a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy, we think.

The early versions we drove had peaky torque delivery and sharp throttle responses, which may take some drivers time to acclimatize if those make it into production versions. We’ll report back once we’ve driven cars destined for dealer lots.

A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard on all trim levels, which replaces an outdated 7-speed in the last version. The transmission skips the rubber-bandy feel found in other CVTs thanks to clever programming and a manual mode that simulates eight gears.

Tip the transmission into “Sport” mode and the CVT holds ratios for longer, including engine braking that can help slow the car on steep grades.

Most QX50s will feature a standard steering setup that we haven’t yet sampled. Top trim levels will sport a steer-by-wire system that’s required equipment for Infiniti’s suite of active safety features (covered below) that we like.

The steering system doesn’t add artificial weight to the wheel and feels natural compared to others.

Although the suspension is tuned toward comfort, we don’t imagine many buyers will mind. The QX50 leans and rolls into corners, but it’s not sloppy. It absorbs bumps and road imperfections well.

Comfort & Quality
The 2019 Infiniti QX50 comfortably seats five with enough room for gear, but it’s quiet interior has us more impressed.

The 2019 Infiniti QX50 excels at being comfortable.

Our score of 8 reflects its good seating positions all the way around, and its superlative quiet inside. 

The QX50 features the same high-density foam seats found in parent-company Nissan’s models, but wrapped in high-quality materials. The front seats are all-day comfortable, with good adjustability and support. All trim levels of the QX50 offer power adjustment up front; top trims get heated and cooled chairs with memory settings.
The rear seats boast stretch-out leg room with 38.7 inches of available space, which tops the 38 inches found in Lexus RX models. The rear seats aren’t as comfortable as the front seats, but they’re not bad places to sit either.

With the rear seats up, the QX50 boasts 31.4 cubic feet of cargo room—enough space for a mildly ambitious, flat-pack furniture run. Drop the rear seats and the room expands to 64.4 cubes and redecorate that bedroom at Sweden’s favorite mega-home supply. Don’t forget the meatballs.

We have praise for the QX50’s quiet interior too. Standard noise cancellation provided by Bose makes the QX50’s cabin whisper-quiet. But engineers didn’t quit at the trick headphone stuff. Infiniti added active engine mounts to insulate the cabin from the busy turbo-4 and it works: we say the QX50 may be Infiniti’s quietest interior yet.

The 2019 Infiniti QX50 hasn’t yet been rated by safety officials.

The 2019 Infiniti QX50 is too new to sacrifice to a wall.

Federal and independent testers haven’t yet rated the crossover SUV’s crashworthiness. We’ll update our scores once they do. 

Good news: It’s reasonably equipped to avoid crashes in the first place. Forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking are standard on all models, and a rearview camera is base equipment too.

Blind-spot monitors are standard on the mid-grade Luxe trim level, and a surround-view camera system is standard equipment on Essential trims.

Infiniti’s suite of advanced active safety features is available only at the top trim level, bundled into two separate packages.

The first package adds adaptive cruise control and parking sensors. The second packages a semi-autonomous suite of hardware Infiniti calls ProPilot Assist that includes active lane control, a head-up display, and automatic parking for more.

Infiniti’s ProPilot Assist system requires constant driver attention and works only with clearly visible lane markings on uninterrupted stretches of road. It’s not meant to pilot the car on its own but when used properly, it should make long hauls or traffic jams easier.

Standard safety equipment includes airbags for all passengers and traction and stability control programs.

There’s value to be found in optional extras for the 2019 Infiniti QX50, but we’d start with the mid-grade trim level.

The price for the 2019 Infiniti QX50 runs quickly into luxury-car territory, but for the first time in the mid-sized crossover, it feels worth it.

We give it a 7 out of 10 on our features scale with points for excellent base equipment and good infotainment, but there are blemishes on both worth discussing.

The QX50 is available in ascending Pure, Luxe, and Essential trim levels. Base are equipped with synthetic leather upholstery, 19-inch wheels, power adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, keyless ignition, forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, and a dual-screen, 8.0- and 7.0-inch infotainment display.

While that’s good equipment, we say skip it and start in the middle: The Luxe trim level is equipped with standard blind-spot monitors, a panoramic moonroof, and is available with heated seats.

Our value pick is the top trim level, which starts at $44,345, including destination. The Essential trim level includes leather seats, a motion-activated liftgate, navigation, a surround-view camera system, and remote start.

It’s easy to tip past $50,000 with the QX50; we drove a tester loaded with nearly $14,000 in options, including Bose premium audio, 20-inch wheels, upgraded interior materials with open pore wood, and Infiniti’s suite of active safety systems. Frustratingly, Infiniti requires seemingly unrelated options to select other options. For example, selecting Infiniti’s ProPilot Assist package requires heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.

Pick and choose among those options and the QX50 can stay reasonable. Go all-in, and the QX50 runs close to $60,000.

All-wheel drive is available on every trim level for $1,800.

Double vision
Infiniti’s infotainment relies on a dual-screen presentation that’s frustrating like sixth-grade word problems. The 8.0- and 7.0-inch stacked screens share duties for navigation, car settings, and radio, and don’t offer any respite by way of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility.

There are better infotainment systems on the market, but they’re not found in Infiniti cars.

Our advice? Take an hour to learn the system, set radio station favorites, pair a smartphone, set the clock, and enjoy the drive.

Fuel Economy
The 2019 Infiniti QX50 improves its fuel efficiency 30 percent above the outgoing model.

Numbers alone don’t tell the 2019 Infiniti QX50’s fuel-economy tale.

The EPA rates the all-wheel-drive QX50 at 24 mpg city, 30 highway 26 combined, which is good enough for a 5 out of 10 on our fuel economy scale, but not good enough to stop reading. 

That’s because the EPA figures represent a 30 percent improvement over the outgoing model, which was rated at 20 mpg combined.

The 2019 version is barely lighter, just as big, and nearly as quick.

So what gives? It’s what’s going on under the hood that makes all the difference. The new QX50 swaps in an innovative powertrain that transforms the engine based on driving conditions. It’s far more complicated than we have room to explain, but the results are impressive and evidenced by the numbers they return on the EPA’s tests.

Opt for front-wheel drive and the QX50 does marginally better: 24/31/27 mpg.



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