Is carlike handling and seating for seven too much to ask for in the luxury car market? Mainstream brands seem to have this formula pretty well nailed with the Toyota Highlander or Honda Pilot.
But name a three-row, car-based crossover from a luxury brand that really delivers easy access, kid-friendly tech and a price less than $75k!
Sure, there is the Mercedes-Benz GLS or the Audi Q7. But both of those big, heavy trucks drive like forklifts around town and in carpool lanes. Yes, you have the Lexus GX460 or Range Rover Sport to consider. But those third rows are punishment to enter/exit and punishment once seated, too. Same boat for the X5 with third row option, and even the Acura MDX without captains chairs in the second row.
Enter: the Infiniti QX60. Heavily revised for the 2016 model year with a new exterior design and fresh cabin technology… this is a front-drive/AWD/AWD hybrid SUV that delivers a luxury ownership experience for seven. At prices from the mid-40s to around $60k with every bell/whistle possible.
We enjoyed a week behind the wheel of the 2016 QX60, and have an HD drive video, 50 photos and full writeup as the proof! Standard headings of Exterior, Interior, Performance, Pricing and Summary are below.
Spoiler alert: the QX60 is smooth as honey and almost as sweet on the road.
First things first: the new QX60 is gorgeous! Subtle tweaks to the previous design have a huge impact on your eyes. Mystical, almost mythical curvatures for the grille and internal mesh are ethereal to behold.
Angellic HID lowbeam projectors and their LED wrap-around DRL are also deeply premium and classy. A flowing, balloon-like curvature to the upper grille and into the hood metal make the QX60 a bit like a rolling sculpture.
Too much praise for a design that gets much less fresh around the sides and rear aspect? Perhaps. But the QX60 is beautifully executed and its design shows real class.
Detail delights like the LED foglamps and nearly-invisible black box for its (many!) active safety tech sensors are also nice.
The profile of the QX60 is familiar because it was/is so unique in the marketplace since this car first arrived with the JX35 badge a few years ago. Even so, time has been kind to its swish of creases and reverse-flipped D-pillar accent.
With the upgraded 20-inch alloys of our test car, the silhouette is still pretty dashing and hides the scale of its cabin nicely. You might think the QX60 would have a low roof from inside, or a small third row. But you would be mistaken!
Around back, the QX60 is bang up to date with premium or mainstream rivals thanks to its LED brake lights, double swirl or red LED running light out back and overall modernity in its tailgate spoiler and bumper protector.
Is this the most macho, take-me-offroad SUV or crossover out there? No it is not. And the styling reflects that. The QX60 is designed for all-weather family duties – and its road-biased appearance is true to that.
The cabin of the QX60 is fairly gigantic. A great sense of roominess for the front seats is proven by the wide and plush center console, airy headroom tallies and overall flatness of the floor.
That flat floor is a huge asset in back, as we’ll touch on momentarily.
Sticking to the front cabin, the QX60 really wants for nothing in terms of tech, safety and equipment. Heated/cooled seats, giant glass sections for the roof, and a wide center stack of main controls. This whole pillar of buttons and knobs is finished in a glossy (and real) maple wood until you reach the big touchscreen.
Phenomenal parking tech on the QX60 might be the best in the segment. Proximity sensors, high-res backup camera and even the AroundView monitor with moving-object-detection. It all works and makes parking this car a snap.
The dark leather of our test truck has some nice contrast-color piping around the seat edges, looking classy if not feeling as soft as the similar look in many Range Rovers.
The driver and passenger seats let you get quite comfy, but we wished for more adjustment range and adjustment moves from the power seats. Just eight-way movements are pretty limited in how low you can be at the helm, but we have this gripe about almost all SUVs.
Other weaknesses for the QX60’s tech come from the boggle of buttons, large knob and sometimes-touchscreen elements. It is overall very simple to use as a result, but not quite top-of-industry in terms of graphics or depth of the control suite.
We could not really get the navigation system’s integrated traffic to show up on anything outside major highways, for example. The Infiniti connected services/concierge also seem nice in theory but are pretty clunky to use in practice.
Similar story for the active cruise and many, many active safety systems on this loaded example. The blindspot system is a peach for lighting up inside the car versus in the actual outside mirror when someone is lurking in your blindspot. But the active cruise and lane-departure/lane-keep systems are really not the best around.
Moving rearward, things improve dramatically. The second row captain’s chairs have a totally flat floor between them, and this extends all the way to the third row as well. So you can load people into the third row via the center walkway or via a crazy-good slide/fold mechanism for the second row. This really works in a one-handed way from outside the car or by having rear seaters grab their unique pull release.
And into the wayback we go! Real seats! Real headroom, kneeroom and shoulder-room!
What a delight to have an adult-friendly wayback seat. Seems simple, but many brands simply can’t compete on this one critical element.
The 2016 QX60 we tested runs a 260HP version of the trusty 3.5-liter V6, and also twists out 248 pound-feet of torque. Paired with the standard continuously-variable automatic, the QX60 AWD is not a rocket but does have admirable thrust on full throttle. It almost always feels intensely front-drive, for better or worse. It also has fairly weak simulated upshifts versus the latest version of the infinite-ratio gearbox.
But the flipside is huge, and is all positives. The engine barely idles at highway speed, the cruising comfort and silence are beyond reproach, and the overall demeanor of the car is deeply relaxed and chill.
Infiniti made some upgrades for the powertrains for 2017: the V6 adds 35 ponies to hit 295 in total, and a new jump in torque too. Fresh programming for the transmission will improve the QX60’s lackluster 8.5-second estimated sprint to 60-mph. This is an area where the QX60 is more like a mainstream family crossover than a real performance/premium (aka German) SUV. But still.
QX60 is more than fit for its family hauler purposes. The best compliment we can give the QX60 is that it is a dream on part throttle, and an angel with cruise control set. So unstressed and so easy to drive at all times!
Check out the drive video above to hear some happy praise, and some curious quirks, of the QX60 on the road. One you might note: when you are deep in the throttle of the QX60, far too much engine noise comes through the cabin. No harshness or vibration, but the noise on throttle is off-putting for a premium brand — and very out-of-character versus the QX60 at a steady speed.
The QX60 comes in front or AWD varieties for the 3.5-liter V6 engine, stickering from the mid 40s and climbing with options.
Loaded with nearly every package and option available, our test truck came in wearing a $59k sticker. Not too steep an upgrade, then, for the benefits of premium style, tech and amenities versus the loaded $55k of the rare Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum AWD…
And comfortably less than any true premium rival that can seat this many people.
Is the QX60 perfect? For 2016, it is perfectly admirable and fairly easy to love – if not perfect. We’d want more sportiness in its handling, seating support and overall performance to give the car an A-plus.
But what the QX60 does is be almost effortless to drive – either solo or with a packed house in the back seats.
For that, there are few vehicles as efficient, smooth and relaxed as the QX60.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.