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Review of: 2016 INFINITI QX60 AWD 4dr
2016 Infiniti QX60: Unassuming luxury
By Mark Richardson
Dec. 2, 2016
Infiniti’s three-row crossover was all-new when it was introduced as the JX in 2013. Comfortable and refined, it was roundly criticized as bland and dull to drive. It had its name changed to QX60 the next year when Infiniti changed all the names of its vehicles to bring some consistency to the nomenclature, but it was otherwise unchanged.
The QX60 was overhauled for 2016 to make it more rewarding to drive, but not take away any of the convenience and technology that made it the brand’s best-selling model. It’s not as large as the full-size QX80, but still packs a lot into its premium crossover design.
Pros & Cons
- + Comfortable, spacious interior
- + Refined drive
- + Rear seat access
- - Forgettable styling
- - Fuel economy
- - Small third-row seat
Stand in front of the QX60 and take in its new, double-arch grille and bi-Xenon headlights, and it looks pretty sharp. Stand beside it and run a hand lightly along its sideswipe crease and it feels good. Take a moment to appreciate the kink of the rear pillar – an Infiniti exclusive, patterned on BMW’s own Hofmeister Kink. You’ll need all this time to appreciate the looks of the QX60 because it’s tough to describe or even remember after the fact. In pictures, it looks great, but in memory, it quickly blurs into every other crossover.
It’s not bad and it’s not bland. It’s just – unremarkable, to these eyes at least. On the plus side, it’s not offensive in any way, but it helped to push the unlock button on the key fob to find the vehicle in a parking lot. Maybe it was the unexciting dark Hermosa Blue of the paint. This year, there are two new colours available, Jade Green and the lighter, more metallic Hagane Blue, for a total of seven different paints. Nothing too exciting, but easy to sell.
There’s nothing wrong with the interior, and that’s very much a compliment. Once you’re in the QX60, settle back and appreciate all the attention to detail that separates the premium crossover from the lesser Nissan Pathfinder. Lovely leather, pliable plastic, alluring aluminum and seductive stitching – the alliteration goes on and on.
The best thing about the interior is not how it looks and how nicely everything is integrated, but the practicality of the seating. This is a holdover from the JX, in which the second row slides both forward and back and then tips up to allow for easy access into the third row. Most three-row crossovers and SUVs treat the back row as an afterthought, but not the QX60.
Space becomes an issue, however, if all three rows are occupied. This is a large vehicle but it’s not as big as the full-size QX80, so leg-room is a challenge. If the second row passengers have comfortable leg-room – which they certainly can if they slide back their seats – then there’s not much left for the third row. Likewise, if there’s adequate leg-room in the very back, the second-row passengers will be cramped. Like most three-row vehicles, the very back is best suited for small children. If you want to routinely carry six or seven people, you’re still best off to get a minivan.
There’s even more fancy technology in this latest edition of the QX60; in fact, it’s one of the most advanced vehicles on the road for keeping you safe. You’ll have to pay extra for most of the extra sensors and software though – they’re options on the higher trim levels.
They include lane departure prevention (which actually steers the vehicle within the lane, not just applies the brakes on one side or the other) and perhaps the cleverest of them all, predictive forward collision warning, which shoots a sensor beam underneath the vehicle ahead to get a read on the vehicle in front of it. If that unseen vehicle hits the brakes, it will warn the driver and back off on the throttle. If the driver lifts off the throttle pedal, it will partially apply the brakes. If it believes a collision is inevitable, it’ll brake harder.
Of course, the sensor will do this for any object in the road ahead. If that object has four legs, it’ll warn the driver. If that object has two legs, it’ll do all it can to avoid hitting it. Other premium makers have similar technology, but this is as smart as it gets.
This is the big question: is the new QX60 any more satisfying to drive than the old one? To be honest, I can’t remember the drive in the old one, it was that forgettable, but I have notes that say it had “light steering” and “vague handling.” It was not a vehicle that made me want to switch to sport mode and set off in search of curving roads.
The new crossover has four settings to its Drive Modes: standard, sport, eco and snow, which adjust the throttle response and the shift points of the continuously variable transmission (CVT), which effectively mimics a seven-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel consumption is officially rated as 12.2 L/100 km in the city and 8.9 on the highway, for an average of 10.7. My own average was a much more thirsty 13.5 L/100 km, and premium fuel is recommended. I don’t know why my consumption was so high, especially when at least half of the driven distance was on the highway, but then I wasn’t driving for frugality.
The QX60 has the same 3.5L V6 engine as last year, but the suspension is reworked considerably: new shock absorbers and springs, a firmer feel to the steering, plenty of tweaks to the chassis and even new tires all make for an engaging drive. I may not remember what the crossover looked like, but I remember it was a pleasure to take it off the main highway and seek out different country routes. That surely didn’t help the fuel consumption.
Such changes usually come with increased NVH, or noise, vibration and harshness. The ride was just the opposite, however: smooth and exceptionally quiet. Retuning the chassis accounts for the lack of vibration and harshness, while acoustic glass is responsible for removing much of the outside noise. Three layers of glass in the front side windows muffles the sound of the tires on the road.
The QX60 has plenty of competition, and premium SUVs and crossovers are a hot commodity right now. Mercedes does not make a comparably-sized and priced seven-seater, though, and both the BMW X5 and Audi Q7 are a fair bit more expensive – their base prices are equivalent to the fully-loaded tester.
There’s competition outside of Germany, of course: the Acura MDX, Buick Enclave and Volvo XC90 are all similarly priced and have selling attributes of their own, also prioritizing passenger safety over off-road capability. That said, the Infiniti is right on the money and now that it offers a rewarding drive too, it’s the most satisfying of all of them to snick into Sport and let out some of your inner Vettel.
There’s nothing wrong with the newest QX60, and plenty that is right. You may not be so concerned about the bland looks – you might not even agree – and once you’re sitting inside the crossover, it’s comfortable and quiet and welcoming.
The third row of seats is the big selling point for the QX60; it’s not even available as a two-row vehicle. There’s a reasonable amount of cargo space behind the third row – 447 litres – though this increases substantially if you lower that third row and use it as a luggage area. Which you should. If you want a vehicle that will always be set up for three rows of seats because you regularly carry six or seven people, you’ll do better to go to a full-size SUV, like the QX80, or just be like everyone else and get a minivan. This way, everyone will have adequate legroom and there’ll be less arguing in the back.
Whatever you decide, however, make sure to look at the Acura, Buick and Volvo too. They’re all excellent vehicles and you owe it to yourself to consider them and compare their lists of options and prices. Just don’t be surprised if you come back to the Infiniti at the end of it all – providing you can find it in the lot.