Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
The 2014 Infiniti QX60 is largely unchanged from 2013 with the exception of its name: What was previously the 2013 Infiniti JX carried over to become the 2014 Infiniti QX60. The QX prefix signifies a sport-utility vehicle, while 60 denotes the relative size of the vehicle: between the QX50 (formerly EX) and the QX70 (previously FX).
Also new is the 2014 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid, which uses a single 15-kilowatt electric motor/two-clutch system, compact lithium battery pack, and supercharged 2.5-liter engine, yielding a net rating of 250 horsepower. The QX60 Hybrid promises an EPA Combined city and highway fuel economy rating of 26 mpg, or 26/28 mpg City/Highway), which is 24 percent higher than the gas-engine QX60.
Also for 2014, the previous Premium Package splits into Premium and Premium Plus groups. Power-folding third-row seats are added to the Deluxe Touring Package for 2014, and all models gain an auto-dimming inside mirror with HomeLink transceiver.
Introduced for 2013, Infiniti JX was a totally new mid-luxury crossover sport-utility with three-row seating. With a $42,000 base price, seating for seven, and a broad array of luxury features, the Infiniti QX60 strikes a nice balance between practicality and self-indulgence for families.
The standard Infiniti QX60 is powered by Nissan's familiar 3.5-liter V6, rated at 265 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, paired with a continuously variable transmission, or CVT. Like CVTs in Nissan passenger cars, the QX60 version has artificial steps programmed into its control chip, if the driver elects manual mode. Nissan was an early adopter of CVTs and is a leader in this technology.
Although a dozen crossovers with three-row seating fall into the mid-luxury category, the top player is the Acura MDX, which holds a 300-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6.
The Infiniti QX60 achieves an EPA-estimated 20/26 mpg City/Highway with front-wheel drive, 19/25 mpg with all-wheel drive. The Acura MDX rates 20/28 mpg (18/27 mpg with all-wheel drive). The EPA estimates the QX60 Hybrid at 26/28 mpg City/Highway (25/28 mpg with all-wheel drive).
Starting with a clean computer-design screen and the MDX as a reference point, the mid-level Infiniti crossover emerged with generally larger dimensions than its Acura rival. At 196.4 inches, the Infiniti is 4.8 inches longer than the MDX, on a distinctly longer wheelbase: 114.2 inches, versus 108.3.
The combination of long wheelbase and greater length allows Infiniti to claim slightly bigger cargo and/or passenger volume. And a long wheelbase is always a good starting point for creamy ride quality.
Styling may or may not be perceived as a strong suit. The recent trend in crossover SUV design has been to make a big-box vehicle look like something different: as minimally boxy as possible. To help achieve this goal, the Infiniti design team gave its mid-level SUV a laid-back windshield, curving roofline, and forward-canted rear hatch, set off by a nifty little zigzag in the rearmost roof pillar. The prominent nose, incorporating a chrome double-arc grille, is consistent with Infiniti's current design language.
Standard luxury features include a power glass moonroof, power rear liftgate, heated power front seats, leather upholstery, four 12-volt power outlets, a very good six-speaker audio system with USB connection for iPod and other devices, a power tilt/telescopic steering column, spiffy electroluminescent instruments, and three-zone automatic climate control.
Model LineupThe 2014 Infiniti QX60 comes with a choice of front-wheel drive ($42,100) or all-wheel drive ($43,500). (All prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include $995 destination charge and may change at any time without notice.) 2014 QX60 models come standard with the 3.5-liter V6 and continuously variable transmission (CVT). QX60 Hybrid ($45,100) and QX60 Hybrid AWD ($46,500) are similarly equipped, but include a 2.5-liter supercharged four-cylinder engine, along with the electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack.
Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, three-zone automatic climate control, heated power front and front passenger seats, six-speaker AM/FM audio with CD and USB connectivity, speed-sensitive volume and Radio Data System (RDS), power windows with automatic up/down, remote keyless entry, pushbutton start, leather-wrapped power tilt/telescopic steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, trip computer, outside temperature display, interior ambient lighting, four 12-volt outlets, four-mode CVT transmission presets, fog lights, power moonroof, power rear liftgate, 18-inch alloy wheels.
Options include the Premium Package ($1,550) with 13-speaker Bose premium audio, CD/DVD/MP3 playback, driver's seat occupant memory, entry/exit assist, enhanced intelligent key fob, heated steering wheel, driver's power lumbar support, remote engine start. The Hybrid Premium Package ($4,600) adds a hard-drive navigation system with 8-inch touch-screen, Lane Guidance, voice recognition, NavTraffic, NavWeather, Zagat restaurant survey, Infiniti Connection service, Around View monitor with moving object detection, rain-sensing wipers.
The Premium Plus Package ($3,000) includes the hard-drive navigation system with 8-inch touch-screen, voice recognition, NavTraffic, NavWeather, Zagat restaurant survey, Infiniti Connection service, Around View camera monitor system with moving object detection, rain-sensing wipers, reverse tilt-down mirrors. The Deluxe Touring Package ($3,450) includes 15-speaker Bose Surround Sound audio, 20-inch wheels, second- and third-row moonroof, power rear sunshade, advanced climate control system, climate-controlled front seats, heated outboard second-row seats, maple interior accents, third-row seatback power return.
The Technology Package ($2,800) includes Lane Departure Warning and intervention, Blind Spot Intervention, automatic pre-crash front seatbelt tensioners. The Deluxe Technology Package for Hybrid ($6,050) also includes 15-speaker Bose Surround Sound, 20-inch wheels, second- and third-row moonroof, power rear sunshade, advanced climate control with automatic circulation and air purifier, climate-controlled front seats, heated outboard second-row seats, maple interior accents. The Driver Assistance Package ($1,900) includes active trace control, Blind Spot Warning, Eco pedal, Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent cruise control, Distance Control Assist, Backup Collision Intervention, Intelligent Brake Assist. Purchase of Premium and Premium Plus Packages is required.
The Theater Package ($1,700) comes with dual seven-inch color front seatback monitors, two wireless headphones, wireless remote control, auxiliary audio and video input jacks, a 120-volt power outlet, and two headphone jacks with individual volume control. Other options include roof rails ($495), a Tow Package ($510), polished 20-inch forged wheels ($1,605), illuminated kick plates ($440), dual DVD entertainment ($1,870), and a maple accents package ($400). Port-installed accessories include a cargo package ($230), rear bumper protector ($210), splash guards ($205), and crossbars for the roof rails ($300).
Safety features include a comprehensive array of airbags, including roof-mounted side curtain airbags activated by a rollover sensor. Optional safety features include blind spot warning, blind spot intervention, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention, brake assist with frontal collision warning, and, perhaps the most compelling, back up collision intervention.
In addition to preserving an Infiniti family look, the design team managed to imbue the Infiniti JX/QX60 with respectable aerodynamic properties. Its coefficient of drag is 0.34, which is excellent by SUV standards and a plus in terms of fuel economy.
A slippery exterior is also a plus in the area of noise reduction, and here too, the QX60 acquits itself very well. The interior is exceptionally quiet at freeway speeds, permitting conversation at living-room decibel levels.
Designers also managed to introduce enough curvy shapes to overpower the boxy profile that continues to plague so many SUVs. In addition to a laid-back windshield and a pleasantly curving roofline, the QX60 features a double-wave hood, forward-canted rear hatch, topped by an eye-catching crescent-cut zigzag in the rear roof pillar. LED taillights are installed, along with solar glass and rear privacy glass.
Up front, the large grille is flanked by manual-leveling High Intensity Discharge bi-xenon headlights, with foglights below. While it may be a little difficult to perceive that big bull nose as pretty, it's hard to ignore, and hard to mistake for anything else.
Inside, the Infiniti QX60 is distinguished by high-quality materials, soft-touch surfaces, touch-screen secondary controls mitigated by some conventional buttons, and electroluminescent instruments that are simultaneously easy to read and a treat to the eye.
Its spacious interior and accessibility to second- and third-row seating are strong suits. The middle bench adjusts fore and aft as much as 5.5 inches, and its seatbacks flop forward to make access to the rearmost row easy, rather than the graceless struggle that's required in so many seven- and eight-seaters.
The front seatbacks can house a pair of DVD screens, which come with the Theater Package. The package includes wireless headphones, wireless remote control, auxiliary audio and video input jacks, a 120-volt power outlet, and two headphone jacks with individual volume control. This sort of package, ideal for peace-keeping on long trips, has become fairly common in family haulers, but an Infiniti distinction is that the two DVD screens can run two different movies.
Cargo volume is another strong point. The Infiniti QX60 has a cargo volume edge versus the Acura MDX, with almost 16 cubic feet behind the third row, as much as 47 cubic feet with the third row folded down and the second row adjusted all the way forward, and just over 76 cubic feet total. Minivans offer more, but of course they're minivans, hopelessly low on today's cool ride meter.
Infiniti has been a leader in so-called driver assist features, aimed at compensating for inattention on the part of the driver and unexpected antics on the part of other drivers. Backup Collision Intervention is the latest, and possibly the most welcome of these innovations. The system uses radar in the rear quarters, plus rear bumper sonar parking sensors, to detect objects behind the vehicle that may be out of the driver's sightlines; and, just as important, cross traffic that may not yet be in view. If either of these situations exists when the driver begins backing up, the system first flashes a warning on the info screen, then an audible warning; and if the driver still fails to react, it applies the brakes.
Backup Collision Intervention is included in the Driver Assistance Package that also includes adaptive cruise control, Forward Collision Warning, blind spot warning, Distance Control Assist, Backup Collision Intervention, active trace control, and the Nissan/Infiniti Eco Pedal that many of us find irritating. Other guardian features, including Lane Departure Warning and intervention, Blind Spot Intervention, and automatic pre-crash front seatbelt tensioners, are part of the more comprehensive Technology Package, which includes all the Driver Assistance Package features.
Many owners have been irritated at one time or another by some, or even most, of these safety features. Infiniti has responded by making them selectively defeatable, rather than an off-on setup for the entire system.
One available extra that won't try to help with your own driving is the Infiniti Connection (part of the Premium bag of telematics). This group includes Google Calendar integration and a program that monitors where the QX60 goes when the kids are using it, and notifies parental units via smart phone or PC when the vehicle exceeds pre-set speed limits or ventures beyond a pre-set distance from home.
On the road, the Infiniti QX60 is quiet, mannerly, competent, and, for some of us, exactly as exciting to drive as your living room sofa. The 3.5-liter V6 provides fairly lively acceleration in the Nissan Murano, but in this heavier vehicle (by some 350 pounds) forward progress is more deliberate. Expect 60 mph to come up in about 7.5 seconds, and passing acceleration to be unhurried. This may not be particularly important to someone in the market for an upscale family wagon. The QX60 delivers adequate acceleration, and adequate will probably fill the bill.
Fuel economy is good by the standards of a two-ton SUV designed to carry a small tribe. EPA ratings are 20/26 mpg City/Highway for the front-wheel drive version.
Ride quality is nice and cushy. Quick handling maneuvers won't be particularly brisk, however. Hard cornering will provoke resolute understeer, and body roll (lean) will be abundant.
Steering feel could also be better. The electro-hydraulic power steering is as devoid of feel as a missing limb. There's zero tactile information when the steering wheel is near center; and aside from a little more effort when vehicle speed increases, there's none when the driver turns the wheel, either.
The continuously variable transmission is another soft point. As noted, Infiniti has programmed in some artificial shift points, to simulate a 6-speed automatic for drivers who usually prefer the feeling of a conventional self-shifter. This is accessible by clicking the shift lever into sport mode. The resultant shifts are a little soft, but tangible enough to satisfy traditionalists. In standard drive mode, the CVT keeps up with the engine in unhurried situations, but sudden power demands still produce the slipping-clutch sensation that's been a drawback for this type of transmission since its invention. Nissan has done a better job with CVTs than other carmakers, and there are definite fuel economy advantages. But it's still not a device that scores well on the fun-to-drive scale.
While the Infiniti QX60 measures up well versus its Acura MDX target in many areas, in terms of being fun to drive, Infiniti's model trails the MDX by three car lengths and a lap of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But for typical buyers, that's probably close enough.
The Infiniti QX60 rolls into the marketplace as one of the more attractive offerings in its class. While its dynamic persona is pure vanilla, it's handsomely appointed, smooth, quiet, and roomy, with versatile interior adjustability to accommodate passengers and/or cargo in comfort. Standard equipment is comprehensive, optional goodies tempting, and optional safety features innovative, particularly the backup intervention system. Pricing is competitive by the standards of this class.
Tony Swan filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report after his test drives of Infiniti JX models in South Carolina and Michigan.
Infiniti QX60 ($42,000); QX60 AWD ($43,400). QX60 Hybrid ($45,000); QX60 Hybrid AWD ($46,400).
Options As Tested
Premium Package with navigation system, Infiniti Connection service, Around View camera monitor system with moving object detection, 13-speaker Bose premium audio, driver's seat occupant memory, enhanced intelligent key fob, maple wood interior trim; Technology Package includes Driver Assistance Package, backup collision intervention, adaptive cruise control, brake assist with forward collision warning, blind spot warning, distance control assist, active trace control, eco pedal, heated steering wheel, remote engine start, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention, blind spot intervention, frontal crash pre-tensioning front seatbelts; Deluxe Touring Package includes 15-speaker Bose Surround Sound audio, 20-inch wheels, second and third-row moonroof, power rear sunshade, advanced climate control system, climate controlled front seats, heated second-row seats; Theater Package includes dual seven-inch color front seatback monitors, two wireless headphones, wireless remote control, auxiliary audio/video input jacks, 120-volt power outlet, two rear headphone jacks with individual volume controls; polished forged 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels; roof rails.
Infiniti JX35 AWD.
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