2014 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid

Infiniti launched its seven-passenger JX crossover for the 2013 model year with the automaker's familiar 3.5-liter V6 as standard equipment. For 2014, the model was renamed the QX60, and a new variant packing a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain joined the lineup. (For those interested in the family lineage, the new arrival is a mechanical twin to the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid, which we took for a Quick Spin last year).

Hidden beneath the hood of the QX60 Hybrid is a supercharged, 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine, rated at 230 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. The combustion engine is supplemented by a 15-kilowatt electric motor, fed by a small lithium-ion battery back (hidden under the rear cargo floor), which adds 20 hp and 29 lb-ft of torque to the mix. Added up, Infiniti rates the total system power at 250 hp and 243 lb-ft – numbers that fall just short of its combustion sibling (the 3.5-liter V6 in the QX60 is rated at 265 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque). The only gearbox is a continuously variable transmission that drives either the front or all four wheels, depending on what the buyer specs.

The 2014 QX60 Hybrid AWD starts at $46,500 (the green model commands a $3,000 premium over the gas-only model). A long list of factory options such as Roof Rails ($495), Theater package ($1,700), Deluxe Technology package ($6,050), illuminated kick plates ($440) and a Hybrid Premium package ($4,600) bumped our as-tested price to a healthy $60,780, including $995 for destination.

Driving Notes
  • Infiniti lists the AWD Hybrid model's curb weight as 4,625 pounds, but it feels even more substantial from behind the wheel. Even with all-wheel drive, the QX60 drives like a front-wheel-drive crossover (nearly all of the power is routed forward unless slip is detected). The steering is light, with little communication to the driver, and the suspension is predictably soft. Gentle throttle applications from a stand-still deliver lethargic acceleration, with frustrating lag off the line. When pulling into traffic, a heavy foot is required to motivate both the engine and assist motor to work simultaneously. Once under power, the four-cylinder is buzzy with some supercharger whine, traits unbecoming of a luxury CUV. The smooth CVT doesn't help, as it holds the powertrain drone at a constant pitch as the crossover slowly picks up speed. Braking, with the hybrid's regenerative system, was not smooth and the brake pedal did not feel linear in operation.
  • Luxury is something Infiniti does consistently well, and the cabin of the QX60 doesn't disappoint. The interior is beautifully appointed, with quality upholstery and rich woods. Front-seat passengers will find their accommodations very inviting, with comfortable eight- and six-way power-operated heated/cooled chairs. Second-row occupants are also well pampered, with heated outboard cushions, power outlets, climate-control vents and sliding seats (5.5 inches of fore/aft travel). Unfortunately, tall riders in the middle seats will find their legs in an awkward position (knees raised, due to low bottom cushions) and no toe room under the driver and front passenger seats. The third row is easy to access, with a child-seat-friendly pass-through (no need to unbuckle it), but only small children will find that seating area comfortable – it is simply too tight for adults.
  • This particular test car was equipped with a lengthy suite of active safety equipment, including Intelligent Brake Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Backup Collision Intervention, Distance Control Assist and Lane Departure Prevention. Most are toggled on/off with a button on the steering wheel or on the dashboard. When enabled, the systems were extremely effective – yet almost too watchful as the proactive computers slowed the vehicle with an overabundance of caution. While we are indifferent on the hand-slapping safety nannies, kudos goes to the full-speed range Intelligent Cruise Control that worked very well in the Los Angeles traffic, despite the inconsistent way local Angelinos drive.
  • Fuel economy should be a hybrid strength, but the QX60 apparently didn't get the memo. The combustion engine seemed to be working very hard and run continuously – the small electric motor doesn't have enough power to move the heavy crossover on its own. Around town, our fuel economy averaged slightly less than 18 mpg, which is significantly less than the EPA's rating of 25 mpg. On the highway, we squeezed out slightly more than 27 mpg, which is slightly less than the EPA's rating of 28 mpg. Overall, we never broke into the 20s, which leaves us scratching our head at the EPA's combined rated of 26 mpg, considering we were not driving the crossover aggressively. (Your mileage may vary, of course.)
  • After a week with the QX60 Hybrid, we were left disenchanted. All of the blame falls squarely on the hybrid system, which costs more up front and handicaps the driving dynamics while doing effectively nothing to improve fuel economy. All of that expensive (and heavy) technology for no apparent benefit. The standard QX60 AWD with the 3.5-liter V6 (rated 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway) is a much wiser choice for those seeking a seven-passenger luxury crossover with an Infiniti logo on its nose.