Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
The SUV formerly known as FX.
The 2014 Infiniti QX70 was previously known as the Infiniti FX. For 2014, Nissan's luxury division has given all of its models a new nomenclature. Now, QX indicates a sport-utility and the 70 in QX70 denotes its relative size, smaller than the QX80 (previously QX56), larger than the QX50 (formerly EX) and QX60 (previously JX). Yes, we are confused, too.
The Infiniti QX70 is a relatively large luxury crossover SUV with sporty handling and a choice of responsive engines. Originally launched as a 2003 model, it was redesigned for 2009 and gained a fresh front-end appearance for 2012. Designed for performance and style, it deftly avoids the boxy proportions of traditional SUVs. The QX70 offer some usable cargo space, but not as much back-seat room and luggage space as the boxier SUVs, in spite of its large size.
Three versions are offered for 2014: The QX70 3.7 comes with a 325-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 and rear-wheel drive; QX70 3.7 AWD has all-wheel drive; QX70 5.0 AWD features a 390-horspower 5.0-liter V8. Fuel economy for the QX70 3.7 is an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg City/Highway; the QX70 3.7 AWD is rated 16/22 mpg, and the QX70 5.0 AWD is estimated at an even less thrifty 14/20 mpg City/Highway.
The QX70 uses some of the same basic architecture as the Nissan Z and Infiniti Q60 (formerly G) two-door sports cars. Its rear-wheel-drive platform translates to impressively sporty characteristics, whether ordered with all-wheel drive or not. (Note: the QX70 has nothing in common with the Nissan Murano, which is a front-wheel-drive vehicle built on an entirely different platform.)
Primary competition for the Infiniti QX70 line comes from the rear-wheel-drive BMW X6, which costs significantly more.
There are no visual changes for 2014, with the exception of the new model-name badge. We find the wild styling of the QX70 appealing. Certainly, it's not bland. Unlike most manufacturers of crossovers and SUVs, Infiniti found a way to make its creation stand well apart from the pack, serving as a treat for the eye instead of an eyesore.
Infiniti coined the term bionic cheetah for the original FX to denote its sleek, low, stretched-out stance, and its tenacious roadholding prowess. That succinct description remains apt today, for the 2014 Infiniti QX70, summarizing its distinctively lithe and slender visual aura, as well as the fact that it approaches the best of the competition in roadholding talents.
While the exterior styling of the QX70 tends to be polarizing, its interior appears to earn approval from most observers. Touring Package cars (and the QX70 5.0 AWD), in particular, feature fine details, nicely stitched quilted leather seat upholstery, expertly stained Maple wood, and matte-finish surfaces that provide a nice respite from the chrome-plated plastic found in many other vehicles.
Technology abounds, led by the available Around View Monitor, which displays images of everything around the QX70 on the navigation display. Smart cruise control, voice-recognition navigation with real-time weather and traffic, rear-seat entertainment systems, and a host of other electronic items are available.
The 2014 Infiniti QX70 is available in three models, differentiated by engine, driveline, and equipment content. The QX70 3.7 is powered by a 325-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 and comes with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD). The QX70 5.0 AWD contains a 390-horsepower V8 and comes only with AWD. All models use a 7-speed automatic transmission.
The Infiniti QX70 3.7 ($45,850) and QX70 3.7 AWD ($47,300) come with power leather-appointed seats, leather-trimmed shifter and leather-wrapped manual tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, dual-zone automatic climate control, split-folding and reclining rear seats, moonroof, power heated folding mirrors with puddle lights, power door locks and windows, power hatch closure, automatic bi-xenon headlamps, fog lamps, rear privacy glass, dark chrome grille, Intelligent key, visors with illuminated mirrors and extensions, HomeLink universal transceiver, rear-view monitor, variable intermittent front/rear wipers, trip computer, and P265/60VR18 all-season tires on 18-inch alloy wheels. Even the standard stereo is an 11-speaker Bose extravaganza.
The QX70 3.7 Premium Package ($4,300) adds a hard-drive navigation system with voice recognition, SiriusXM NavTraffic, SiriusXM NavWeather, Zagat restaurant guide, 8-inch touch-screen display, in-dash CD/DVD player, Bluetooth wireless technology with streaming audio, Around View Monitor with moving object detection and front/rear park-assist sonar system, dual-occupant memory system, reverse tilt-down mirrors, power tilt/telescopic steering column, and aluminum roof rails.
The QX70 3.7 Deluxe Touring Package ($3,300) upgrades with maple interior accents, aluminum pedals, a cargo tonneau cover, and P265/50VR20 all-season tires, and leather-appointed climate-controlled front seats. Premium Package is required, along with the Deluxe Touring Package.
The QX70 3.7 Technology Package ($2,950) bundles advanced safety systems including Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning; Lane Departure Prevention; Lane Departure Warning; Front Pre-Crash Seat Belts; Intelligent Cruise Control; Distance Control Assist; rain-sensing front windshield wipers; Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS); and auto-leveling headlights.
The Infiniti QX70 5.0 AWD ($62,400) comes with all the features of the QX70 3.7 AWD with Premium package, plus the V8 engine and AWD, larger brakes, and 265/45R21 tires on 21-inch alloy wheels. The aluminum roof rails are polished. The QX70 5.0 AWD also adds an automatic entry-exit feature to the power steering column, and features Infiniti's Advanced Climate Control System (ACCS) with Plasmacluster air purifier, auto-recirculation, and a grape polyphenol filter.
The QX70 5.0 AWD Sport Technology Package ($6,250) features an adaptive Continuous Damping Control (CDC) suspension; active rear steering; intelligent cruise control; Lane Departure Warning and Prevention; Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning; Distance Control Assist; Adaptive Front Lighting; rain-sensing wipers; front pre-crash seatbelts; upgraded front sport seats; magnesium shift paddles; and dark tinted headlight housings, side air vents and lower side trim.
Port-installed options include DVD monitors in both rear headrests ($1,540), a tow package ($725) consisting of Class II hardware and a four-pin harness, roof rail crossbars ($340), and a cargo organizer/protector ($240). Also available: a tonneau cover ($400), illuminated kick plates ($440), splash guards ($175), rear bumper protector ($270), and cargo net with First Aid kit ($95).
Safety equipment includes dual-stage front airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, active front head restraints, stability control with traction control and antilock brakes, and tire pressure monitors. Available all-wheel drive can enhance safety in adverse conditions.
The Infiniti FX was called a bionic cheetah when it was launched (as a 2003 model), and the current QX70 generation hasn't strayed far from the initial concept. One could argue that the FX was the progenitor of the fashion-trumps-function style that spawned the BMW X6 and similar vehicles. Had such a term existed at the time, the FX/QX70 might well have been labeled a four-door coupe SUV.
In its second-generation form, the distance between front and rear axles increased by almost 1.5 inches, pushing the front tires farther forward and creating a hood not unlike a 1980s Corvette: long and horizontal, but not flat as it arches over wheels on the sides and engine in the middle. In profile, the hood looks practically as long as that on a muscle car or even a Rolls-Royce, while the roofline appears like a canopy pulled down taut over a framework, with no straight lines and a nearly semicircular rear window.
Relative to the stylish Infiniti G37 (now called G50) coupe from a similar background (and also endowed with a long hood), the QX70 has an inch and a half more wheelbase, and is three inches longer, four inches wider, and more than eight inches taller. It's significantly bigger, in other words. So it needs the 21-inch wheels of the QX70 5.0 AWD to make it appear like a sleek modern conveyance. A lot of SUVs that are this long have three rows of seats, whereas the QX70 is strictly two rows.
Where door meets window glass is a straight line, as is the bright strip below the doors; but everything else is curved. Projector headlamps lend some animal characteristic, a touch of the cheetah, to the front, while the dark chrome grille between has three-dimensional waves rather than two-dimensional slats. In some respects it resembles the old Hyundai Tiburon (aptly named after a shark); and looked at another way, the wide swooping grille and multiple layers suggest the lovable tenacity of a drooling bulldog. Whatever you think, you'll probably get lots of opinions because it doesn't go unnoticed: The fashion statement worked. Not many folks love a bland car, and the FX is emphatically not bland.
Behind the huge front wheels are chrome, arched vertical vents for ducting engine compartment air out and reducing front lift. Door handles also are chrome, while mirrors are paint-matched.
Like the front lights, the rear LED lamp housings curl around the body sides, and protrude somewhat to offer better visibility and some aerodynamic downforce at high speeds. Those housings and the front vents are more aimed at Infiniti's European customers than intended for American driving habits. If you're concerned about seeing the tail lights in the outside mirrors, forget it; the mirror side view ends around the rear door handles as the bodywork curves inward toward the rear.
The spoiler atop the rear glass is integral with the hatch, void of the seams more common tacked-on pieces have. Large swaths of chrome set off the license plate recess. When equipped with a Sport Technology Package, the QX70 50 AWD gets a QX70S badge at the rear. If you look carefully, you will find a camera above the license plate, on the bottom of each rear-view mirror, and one at the top of the grille.
Each Infiniti QX70 cabin is very nicely finished. The QX70 3.7 interior in Graphite presents particularly well. The available diamond-quilted leather brings to mind fine British or Italian coachbuilding. Ordered with vertically-grained Maple wood trim, hand-stained for darker edges, augmented by matte-finish silver appointments, the QX70 is as stylish inside as out.
No wood appears on the dashboard, which is a good thing as it eliminates reflections; but all doors have big sweeps of wood and the center console has it on three sides, trimmed at the edges in chrome. Soft-touch surfaces are everywhere, with hard plastic only on the lower center pillars and the rear edge of the center console.
The driver works with a suitably small-diameter, thick-rim, three-spoke steering wheel that contains thumb-operated pushbuttons and toggles, benefiting from plenty of adjustment in two planes for driving comfort and gauge viewing. The optional shift paddles behind it are among the best around: big, solid magnesium pieces with leather along the back side for your fingers. Shifters are long enough to let you change gears mid-bend. downshifts are left-hand, while upshifts are on the right.
Ahead of the steering wheel are electroluminescent gauges lifted from the G37 coupe. Fuel and coolant temperature gauges are small, in lower corners. The average-size, white-on-black tachometer and speedometer frame a message center with trip data, scrolling information, and a decent-sized gear indicator you can read at a glance. After all, with seven ratios available, you might not always know which gear you're in. Odometer and gauge lighting work through silver-colored tabs at the upper sides of the pod (two on each side).
Controls are abundant, but more logical and better-identified than in many vehicles. Short-travel column stalks with chrome lips on the twist ends handle the usual chores: signals, lights, and wipers. To the left below the vent is a bank of switches for much of the available gadgetry. These include IBA Off (intelligent brake assist), VDC Off (electronic stability control), DCA (distance control alert), FCW/LDW (forward collision and lane departure warnings), AFS on/off (adaptive headlights that follow the road with steering input), and mirror adjustment and fold switches. Mirrors shouldn't need much adjustment in motion, but some of the other buttons will, and buried by your left knee all in white-on-black is not the easiest place to find them. The pushbutton start switch is on the dash to the right, in clear view.
Between the center vents is a sizable, well-shaded screen, whether you have navigation or not, which offers split-screen views and easy map reading. Below it on a near-horizontal surface is the multifunction control wheel with direct-access keys to the sides. The navigation system recognizes voice for climate, audio, phone, and, yes, navigation, this last run by a hard-disc drive and able to offer SiriusXM real-time traffic and weather) data on-screen. We were able to operate this without an owner's manual to consult, and got what we wanted with a minimum of missteps.
The vertical central control panel is finished in piano black. The upper set of audio controls flanks an analog clock lit like ice at night, while the lower set handles climate operations. In either case, the visual details appear on-screen. All of these operate in a straightforward manner, though the two round volume/audio knobs and left/right temperature knobs are identical and a quick reach could result in a radio change when you wanted more heat or cooling, or vice versa. At the bottom is a push-open felt-lined bin.
You won't see evidence of it, but the QX70 5.0 AWD climate control setup includes systems that sound derived from space travel. A Plasmacluster ionizer runs in two modes to trap particulate contaminants and make the air crisper and fresher, and a grape seed polyphenol filter neutralizes allergens that get past regular filters.
A small conventional shifter rides center on the console and offers manual mode, but the paddles do better at this and there's no chance you'll accidentally tap the shifter into neutral. Behind the shifter are the seat-temperature controls and suspension control switch, followed by a dual cupholder with wood cover, and dual-bin storage with iPod connection under the armrest.
Except for stretching past a wide floor sill, entry into the front compartment is quite easy. In the back, it's a bit more troublesome, due not only to the sill but to the relatively low roofline.
Front seats are comfortable and well-designed to match the cornering capability of the car, without feeling overly restrained. On the QX70 5.0 AWD, driver memory and seat heat and cooling are standard, though the coolers are a bit noisy at their max setting.
The optional sport seats on the QX70 5.0 AWD offer all the usual adjustments, plus thigh extensions and, for the driver, powered side bolsters for legs and torso. Snug, but not quite intrusive, side bolsters flank a gently curved seatback, to create an encompassing and inviting cocoon for the driver. An exceptionally long driver's seat bottom yields top-notch thigh support. Those sport seats are really impressive and, with that diamond-quilt pattern, come as close to a Bentley Continental or Italian exotic as you'll get in a crossover.
By SUV standards you sit fairly low in the QX70, and the front tunnel/hump around the running gear takes away a bit of foot wiggle room. But there is a lot of travel in the seat tracks, with 44 inches of legroom and a floor-hinged gas pedal so it won't be a deal-breaker.
The rear cabin matches the front for woodwork and finish, and the reclining seats are comfortable enough for two occupants; but a third, forced into the center, is likely to grumble. Better to pull down the center armrest than to seat a third person on that stiff, perchlike middle cushion, worsened by a fixed headrest as well as limited foot room around the prominent floor hump. Here, the stylish proportions of the QX70 become noticeable because shoulder room matches the front but headroom's a bit less, and legroom loses 10 inches from the front. It isn't exactly tight, but it isn't roomy either.
Nor is the cargo area particularly generous, offering 24.8 cubic feet behind the back seat and 62 cubic feet with it folded. A pair of big roller suitcases wouldn't fit under the cover. Lift-over height is a relatively high 31 inches, meaning you'll have to lift your cargo waist-high to load it in back.
The rear seats are easily folded from the door or hatch; the narrow seat is behind the driver. There are four light-duty tie-down points, a 12-volt power point and light, and the cover that rides on chrome rails folds in three sections. A metal threshold plate includes a spring-loaded cover around the latch, and the space-saver spare tire rides underfloor with a subwoofer resting within it.
A Infiniti QX70 is a serious driver's machine, evident from one's first entry into the driver seat. With a high-revving V6 that can pull well past 7000 rpm (no redline on the gauge), the Infiniti QX70 3.7 will reach 60 mph in a shade more than 6 seconds, even with all-wheel drive. The romping V8 QX70 5.0 AWD will complete that task in a bit more than 5 seconds.
Both engines spin freely and make more horsepower than torque (and run on premium unleaded), but the V8 is the smoother of the two. With the 7-speed automatics, one is never at a loss for propulsion. The competing BMW X6's 3-liter twin-turbo inline-6 is quicker, more flexible and smoother than the QX70 3.7; but you will rarely get to use the full performance of any of them on most roads.
With the V8, expect stirring response to the gas pedal from a standstill, and at low speeds. Acceleration isn't quite as vigorous on the highway, though engine reaction varies noticeably according to road speed: sometimes more energetic, sometimes less. Following a momentary delay for a couple of quick downshifts, the V8 feels assertive but not quite dramatic. Some of the difference lies in the fact that response is so smooth, you suddenly find that the QX70 is traveling faster than you'd assumed.
The 7-speed automatics do everything they should. Quick gear changes up or down have a reassuring firmness when you're in a hurry, but more muted silkiness at slower speeds. Most of the time, shifts are barely discernible as well as prompt. They offer downshift rev-matching for smoothness and reduced wear on car and occupants, a Snow mode, and two overdrive ratios for relaxed highway cruising, When run in Manual mode, neither transmission will downshift automatically, even if you floor the throttle in top gear. Big paddle shifters in the QX70 5.0 AWD let you control the 7-speed transmission yourself, but it functions so well on its own that the need for manual gearchanges should not emerge often.
The available all-wheel-drive system works without any driver input or feedback; it puts power to the ground in the most efficient manner, and if that isn't enough, the traction control helps out. Though they have 7 inches of ground clearance, these machines are not designed for off-road travel, and anything more than a damp beach is asking a lot.
Gas-pedal tip-in is an issue with the V8 engine. You'll get used to it quickly enough, but a bit of jumpiness is sometimes noticeable at the moment of takeoff. At times, too, when coming to a stop, the seatback seemed to momentarily lose contact with the driver's back, even when only mild braking pressure was being applied. An odd twitch occasionally occurred in the driver's seat, too, when the engine was first started.
Towing is not the forte of the QX70. The QX70 5.0 AWD is rated to tow up to 3500 pounds, while the QX70 3.7 AWD is rated for just 2000 pounds, meaning a very lightweight trailer.
If most of your driving is commuting, we'd suggest the V6 for its better mileage, less aggressive throttle tip-in and softer riding tires.
Brakes are four-wheel discs, and on the QX70 5.0 AWD they're stout 14-inch rotors with silver-painted multi-piston calipers at both ends. Combine these with the performance summer tires, and the QX70 5.0 AWD can stop in a hurry and has no issues with fade in repeated applications. Infiniti has claimed that the 21-inch wheels mounted on the QX70 5.0 AWD were as light as competitors' 18-inch wheels, which helps explain why the far heavier QX70 5.0 AWD stops almost as well as a Q50 coupe, which has essentially the same brakes but narrower tires.
Underneath, the QX70 is essentially a car with more ground clearance; the front axle shafts actually go up from the gearbox to the wheels. The majority of the suspension pieces and subframes are aluminum, and the lightness thereby imparted makes it easier to tune a good ride/handling compromise. The basics are coil springs, large stabilizer bars, relatively neutral weight distribution, and 265mm-wide tires regardless of model. It's just the sidewall height that changes, or the tread/compound in the case of the performance tires available on the V8.
With its comparatively taut suspension, the QX70 rides firmly, more like a sport sedan than a crossover; the only other SUVs or crossovers that have the same bias to performance over softness are the Acura RDX, BMW X3, X5 and X6 sports, and anything with an AMG badge on it. Fortunately, the QX70 has a very stiff structure to build from, so the ride isn't jarring or stiff unless it's on a really bad road. Though smooth and trouble-free on relatively glassy surfaces, the QX70 5.0 AWD's ride does turn a tad stiff as the pavement becomes less perfect. Most of the time, its tautness transmits little, if any, unpleasantness to occupants. You're likely to hear more pavement imperfections than are felt, and even those are nicely muted.
Markedly more steering effort is needed at low speeds than expected, or is typical in this vehicle class, enhancing the sporty, confident nature of the QX70. A Sport-equipped, V8-powered QX70 5.0 AWD could hardly feel more securely planted to the pavement.
Despite a full-size sedan's wheelbase, the low, stiff sidewalls and performance suspension still allow some fore-and-aft pitching, and putting this much weight over a speed bump on such a setup is not done gracefully. But get to a winding road and the impressive grip of the tires, nicely weighted steering, firm roll stiffness and near-neutral balance make for a fun ride with lots of ability for what is, after all, a hefty box.
Among other extras, the QX70 5.0 AWD's Sport Technology Package adds a continuous damping control (CDC) suspension and active rear steering. Unless you're on a race track, the CDC is best left on Automatic, where it blends comfort and precise response so well that the Sport mode rarely lets you go much quicker. The active rear steering is an electronically-controlled rack mounted low and behind the rear differential, which changes rear wheel angle up to one degree to aid stability in very brisk maneuvers and transitions. The BMW X6 with its sport package puts up better maximum numbers in outright grip and braking, but we've found the X6 doesn't feel as smooth or happy while doing it.
Besides a ride not suited to some Midwest urban infrastructure, the other drawback is potential tire and road noise. On some highway surfaces, the rear tires sing lightly, though it can be easily drowned out by the audio system at low listening levels. A QX70 5.0 AWD is exceptionally quiet otherwise. You hear just enough to remain aware that you're the master or mistress of a serious highway car. What you do detect is a refined, well-muted sound, with very light exhaust rumble evident at idle.
The Technology Package brings the occasional bell, ping or other warning sound, signal and sensation. With a cruise control system that can follow a vehicle and use brakes automatically to maintain distance, it can also warn you of impending collision. The Lane Departure Warning system isn't mistake-proof, once seeming to mistake splashed water for leaving an unmarked lane. Because it's on every time you start the car; you must press the button to stop false alarms.
Forward visibility isn't an issue unless you're short and the oversize mirror and door post/pillar combination block forward side vision, or you need to squeeze through a narrow opening. That's because the front body edges are undefined, just lurking out there somewhere. Toward the rear, the canopy pillars, minimal glass and rear headrests conspire against you. So does the driver's headrest, when looking over your left shoulder, but the big outside mirrors are a bonus.
Infiniti offers a helpful, partial solution to visibility issues: the Around View Monitor: With the rear camera view display on the l
eft side of the dashboard screen, the right side presents an aerial image of the car and its surroundings on the right screen digitized from the side, front and rear camera input. It's a better setup than the self-parking Lexus.
The newly renamed Infiniti QX70 delivers a stylish crossover sport-utility with a healthy dose of luxury amenities and solid performance, at a decent price, broadened by a palette of options to please almost anyone. If you prefer looking sharp and traveling fast to practicality, five-passenger comfort and fuel economy, it's worth putting on your list.
G.R. Whale filed a report to New Car Test Drive after his test drive of FX models in California. James M. Flammang reported on the 2014 QX70 from the Detroit area.
Infiniti QX70 3.7 ($45,850); QX70 3.7 AWD ($47,300); QX70 5.0 AWD ($62,400).
Options As Tested
Sport Technology Package ($6,250) includes Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Intelligent Brake Assist, Forward Collision Warning, intelligent cruise control, Distance Control Assist, pre-crash belts, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive and self-leveling headlamps, dark-tint headlamp housings and exterior trim, active rear steering, sport seats with driver's power bolster, magnesium shift paddles, Continuous Damping Control suspension.
Infiniti QX70 5.0 AWD (QX70S) ($62,400).
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