• Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Brandon Turkus / AOL
  •   Engine
    3.5L V6
  •   Power
    265 HP / 248 LB-FT
  •   Transmission
    CVT
  •   Drivetrain
    All-Wheel Drive
  •   Engine Placement
    Front
  •   Curb Weight
    4,515 LBS
  •   Seating
    2+3+2
  •   Cargo
    76.5 CU-FT (max)
  •   MPG
    19 City / 26 HWY
  •   Base Price
    $45,395
  •   As Tested Price
    $58,845
  •   Best Deal Price
    $40,953
  •  
UPDATE: The original version of this story called Mazda's range-topping CX-9 the Platinum. This is incorrect. The top-of-the-line model will be called the CX-9 Signature. The story has been edited accordingly.

When it comes to selling cars, getting customers into showrooms is half the battle. For Infiniti, one of its biggest draws is the QX60 – the three-row CUV originally known as the JX35, based on parent company Nissan's Pathfinder. QX60 buyers are young, female, and – most importantly – nine out of ten are new to the brand. The facelifted QX60, which was originally introduced in December, is here to maintain those stats.

That's important, especially now, as increasingly premium mainstream offerings are proliferating throughout the market. This isn't a new trend – GMC's Acadia Denali predates the JX35, for example – but now the QX60 has to contend with things like the Ford Explorer Platinum, Honda Pilot Elite, Dodge Durango Citadel, and the upcoming Mazda CX-9 Signature. These vehicles are similarly priced, and offer similar capabilities and accoutrements to the QX60.

Infiniti timed its QX60 update well, then, with a focus on aesthetics and maintaining the same driving dynamics. In the end, Infiniti offers a freshened CUV that should have no trouble keeping foot traffic flowing into the brand's showrooms.

Driving Notes

  • This might not be the popular opinion, but to our eyes, the QX60 is the best-looking product Infiniti currently makes (of course, the Q60 Coupe will trump that when it enters production). This thing has presence – we caught ourselves staring a number of times. But our lingering glances make sense when you look at the QX60 alongside the original JX35. The former lacked real hard edges or sharp details. Look at this comparison gallery to see the difference.
  • What's remarkable is that Infiniti made this big visual improvement as part of a mid-cycle refresh. Yes, the front and rear fascias, headlights, and taillights were swapped out, but the cumulative effect is a dramatically more premium and refined aesthetic. We dig the way the dark grille integrates more neatly with the lower intake, and the LED running lights give the sharper, more aggressive headlamps a piercing effect. Out back, a revised rear bumper and a wider chrome strip produce a more substantial, upright appearance. These are little changes, to be clear, but taken as a whole they feel far more sweeping.
  • The same can't be said of the cabin. The overall layout looks unchanged, though we sense that Infiniti updated the material quality for 2016. The new shift lever design is like the one shown on the Q60 Coupe in Detroit – Infiniti tells us this will eventually proliferate throughout the company's entire range.
  • Also unchanged is the powertrain. The 3.5-liter VQ-series V6 continues to produce 265 horsepower at 6,400 rpm, while torque stays at 248 pound-feet at 4,400 rpm. Paired with a continuously variable transmission and optional all-wheel drive, our test vehicle felt plenty snappy along San Antonio's highways and byways, but getting the most out of the engine meant keeping the tach needle in the upper reaches of the rev range. There's definitely some CVT quirkiness here, even with Nissan/Infiniti's D-Step Logic technology, which simulates the gears of a traditional automatic.
  • Importantly, Infiniti hasn't messed with the QX60's best feature – an incredibly comfortable ride. It's plush and relaxed, ironing out the rougher bits of Texas pavement without feeling bouncy. It's very quiet, too. Because of they way they're paved, some Texas roads produce a lot of road noise as you drive over them. The QX60 hushed these sections down to tolerable levels.
  • Not all the carryover mechanicals are great. The steering is still too light and vague, particularly at speed. It took us several miles on the freeway to figure out how much steering angle to dial in, causing the lane departure warning system to beep angrily as we misjudged each curve. We had this problem with our long-term 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, too.
  • Speaking of safety systems, the controls are all over the place. Why are there buttons for safety systems near the driver's left knee, on the steering wheel, and in the infotainment system? It's almost like the designers were being deliberately obtuse.

A relaxed, isolated, and comfortable driving experience has been the QX60's calling card since it was introduced. Now, the CUV finally has the looks that image-conscious consumers so crave. But with prices starting at $45,395, and rapidly climbing north of $58,000 for our fully loaded test vehicle, the real question is whether Infiniti has gone far enough with this update to allow the QX60 to stand out against similarly equipped, but much more reasonably priced competitors. The Honda Pilot Elite is the most obvious threat, but Infiniti should keep an eye on how customers receive the new GMC Acadia Denali and Mazda CX-9 Signature.

We like the new look, and appreciate the improvements. Here's hoping they're enough to keep customers flowing into showrooms.

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