Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
All 2015 Infiniti QX70 models come with a 3.7-liter V6 engine. (The 5.0-liter V8 option is no longer available.) Last redesigned for 2009, the large crossover SUV based on the Nissan Z architecture is not significantly changed for 2015.
Nissan's luxury division gave all of its models new nomenclature phased across the 2014 and 2015 model years. The QX prefix indicates a sport-utility vehicle, and the 70 in QX70 denotes its relative size: Formerly known as FX, the QX70 is smaller than QX80 (previously QX56), larger than QX60 (previously JX) and QX50 (formerly EX). All 2015 QX70 models are QX70 3.7 models.
An optional Sport Package, new for 2015 QX70 models, includes dark-finish exterior accents and 21-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, holding 265/45VR21 tires. Also in the 2015 Infiniti QX70 Sport Package are climate-controlled sport seats with manual thigh extenders and contrast stitching, four-way power bolster adjustment, aluminum pedals, adaptive front lighting, and magnesium paddle shifters. Otherwise, QX70 is unchanged from the 2014 models.
The QX70 uses rear-wheel drive, the QX70 AWD has all-wheel drive. Vehicles based on rear-wheel drive generally have sportier handling than those based on a front-wheel drive layout, and that holds true for the QX70. QX70 uses some of the same basic architecture as the Nissan Z and Infiniti Q60 two-door sports cars and Infiniti Q40 sedan. Its rear-wheel-drive platform translates to impressively sporty characteristics, whether ordered with all-wheel drive or not.
The Infiniti QX70 is a relatively large luxury crossover SUV that delivers sporty handling and a responsive engine. Designed for performance and style, the Infiniti QX70 avoids the boxy proportions of traditional SUVs. The QX70 offers some usable cargo space, but not as much back-seat room and luggage space as the boxier SUVs, in spite of its large size.
Fuel economy for the 2015 Infiniti QX70 is an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg City/Highway; the 2015 QX70 AWD is rated 16/22 mpg.
Primary competition for the Infiniti QX70 comes from the rear-wheel-drive BMW X6, which costs significantly more.
We find the wild styling of the QX70 appealing, though not everyone agrees; it's something of a love/hate question. Unlike most manufacturers of crossovers and SUVs, Infiniti found a way to make its creation stand apart from the pack. This vehicle is not bland.
Infiniti coined the term bionic cheetah for the original FX to denote its sleek, low, stretched-out stance, as well as its tenacious roadholding prowess. That succinct description remains for the current Infiniti QX70, summarizing its distinctively lithe and slender visual aura, coupled with 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, 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 2015 Infiniti QX70 is available in two models, differentiated by driveline. The QX70 3.7 is powered by a 325-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 and comes with rear-wheel drive; the QX70 3.7 AWD has all-wheel drive. Both 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 front seats (10-way for driver, 8-way for passenger), leather-wrapped shifter and 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 courtesy lights, power door locks and windows, power rear liftgate, automatic bi-xenon headlamps, fog lamps, rear privacy glass, chrome grille, Intelligent key, visors with illuminated mirrors and extensions, compass, analog clock, 7-inch information display, 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, 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 wood interior accents, aluminum pedals, a cargo tonneau cover, quilted leather-appointed climate-controlled front seats, and P265/50VR20 all-season tires. The 2015 QX70 3.7 Sport Package ($3,550) includes dark-finish exterior accents and 21-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, adaptive front lighting, climate-controlled sport front seats with manual thigh extenders and contrast stitching, four-way power bolster, aluminum pedals, and magnesium paddle shifters. 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.
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), black roof rail crossbars ($400), 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 dubbed bionic cheetah when it was launched (as a 2003 model), and the current QX70 generation, designed for the 2009 model year, 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, pushing the front tires farther forward and creating a hood not unlike that of 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 Q60 Coupe, the QX70 has an inch and a half more wheelbase. The QX70 also is three inches longer, four inches wider, and more than eight inches taller. It's significantly bigger, in other words. So it almost requires the available 21-inch wheels 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.
Particularly with a pure white body, the dark 21-inch wheels that come with the Sport Package convey a sinister, dramatic appearance, while making the QX70 look even larger than its measurements suggest.
Where door meets window glass is a straight line. So 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). Considered 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 QX70 is not dull.
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.
The spoiler atop the rear glass is integral with the hatch, void of the seams that more common tacked-on pieces display. Large swaths of chrome set off the license plate recess. When equipped with a Sport Package, the QX70 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 excellent electroluminescent gauges, fully calibrated and brightly lit at all times, for easy reading at a glance. Fuel and coolant temperature gauges are tiny, pushed into lower corners, yet quite easily readable. 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 may 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 foldaway switches. Mirrors shouldn't need much adjustment in motion, but some of the other buttons will, and buried by your left knee is not the easiest place to find them. The pushbutton start switch is on the dash to the right, in clear view, but it's not so easy to tell when headlights are switched on.
Between the center vents is a sizable, well-shaded screen, positioned relatively high, whether you have navigation or not. With navigation, offers split-screen views and easy map reading. Street names are especially easy to read.
Below the screen, 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, not too far apart, 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.
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, above a somewhat narrow door opening.
Front seats are comfortable and well-designed to match the cornering capability of the car, without feeling overly restrained. The optional Sport Package seats 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, coming as close to a Bentley Continental or Italian exotic as you'll ever 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. That center perch is actually less uncomfortable than in many vehicles, but head space for a fifth occupant is marginal at best. Here, the stylish proportions of the QX70 become noticeable because shoulder room matches the front but headroom's less, and legroom loses 10 inches from the front. It isn't exactly tight, but not roomy, either.
The cargo area is small, 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 (if one is installed). Lift-over height is a relatively high 31 inches, meaning you'll have to lift your cargo waist-high to load it in back.
Rear seats are easily folded from the door or hatch; the narrower seat is behind the driver. There are four light-duty tie-down points, a 12-volt power point and light, and the available cargo 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.
The Infiniti QX70 is a serious driver's machine, an impression immediately evident from the driver's 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.
Spinning freely, the V6 engine makes more horsepower than torque (and demands premium unleaded fuel). With the 7-speed automatic, one is never at a loss for propulsion. Following a brief delay for downshifts when pushing the pedal to the floor, the QX70 gains speed readily, if a bit short on all-out vigor. The competing BMW X6's 3-liter twin-turbo inline-6 is quicker, more flexible and smoother than the QX70's 3.7-liter; but you will rarely get to use the full performance of any of them on most roads.
While smooth and assured, the V6 feels as if it's pulling substantial weight, though doing so with assertive energy. The V6 also sounds a tad more trucklike than the engines in most crossover-type SUVs.
The 7-speed automatic transmission does everything it should, capably and efficiently. 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, typically arriving at just the right time. 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, the transmission will not downshift automatically, even if you floor the throttle in top gear.
Paddle shifters let the driver control the 7-speed transmission, but the automatic functions so well on its own that, apart from descending steep grades, the need for manual gearchanges seldom emerges.
The available all-wheel drive 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 7.3 inches of ground clearance, these machines are not designed for off-road travel, and anything more than a damp beach is asking a lot.
Towing is not the forte of the QX70. The QX70 3.7 AWD is rated for just 2000 pounds, meaning a very lightweight trailer. If you need to tow, look elsewhere.
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 consist of coil springs, large stabilizer bars, relatively neutral weight distribution, and 265mm-wide tires regardless of model.
With its comparatively taut suspension, the QX70 rides firmly, more like a sports 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, and anything with an Mercedes-Benz AMG or BMW M badge. 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. 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. Despite low-profile 21-inch tires with the Sport Package, ride comfort on that version is surprisingly good, as the suspension manages to absorb quite a lot of harshness. Uneven pavement could make things a bit jiggly for a while, but that's likely to happen only occasionally.
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. Handling is where this SUV shines brightest, and a QX70 could hardly feel more securely planted to the pavement. Not many SUVs of any stripe provide such a sensation of full authority.
Despite a full-size sedan's wheelbase, the low, stiff tire 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, essentially a hefty box.
Fuel economy, though comparable to similar vehicles, deserves no praise, whether you're considering EPA estimates or measuring real-world driving. In ordinary suburban driving, our test QX70S 3.7 AWD fell short of 15 mpg.
Except for a touch of unexpected engine/driveline sound, not quite as refined as in some crossover models, a QX70 is exceptionally quiet. You hear just enough to remain aware that you're the master or mistress of a serious highway car.
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 shouldn't be an issue unless you're short and need to squeeze through a narrow opening. That's because the front body edges are undefined, just lurking out there somewhere. Unfortunately, though, the oversize outside mirror and door-post/windshield-pillar combination block vision to the front corners. Toward the rear, the canopy pillars, minimal glass and rear headrests conspire against you, crimping the view somewhat. So does the driver's headrest, when looking over your left shoulder, but the big outside mirrors are a bonus. Views over the driver's right shoulder are more obstruction-free.
Infiniti offers a helpful, partial solution to visibility issues: the Around View Monitor: With the rear camera view display on the left side of the dashboard screen, the right side presents a virtual aerial image of the car and its surroundings on the right screen, digitized from the side, front and rear camera inputs. It's a more useful setup than the self-parking Lexus.
The Infiniti QX70 is stylish and sporty and comes loaded with luxury features. Offered at a decent price, it's 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 2015 QX70S 3.7 AWD from Chicago.
Infiniti QX70 3.7 ($45,850); QX70 3.7 AWD ($47,300).
Options As Tested
Technology Package ($2,950) 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. Premium Package ($4,300) includes hard-drive navigation system with voice recognition, SiriusXM NavTraffic and NavWeather, 8-inch touch-screen display, in-dash CD/DVD player, Bluetooth with streaming audio, Around View Monitor with moving object detection and front/rear park-assist, dual-occupant memory system, reverse tilt-down mirrors, power tilt/telescopic steering column, aluminum roof rails. Sport Package ($3,550) includes dark-finish exterior accents and 21-inch alloy wheels, adaptive front lighting, climate-controlled sport front seats with contrast stitching and 4-way power bolster adjustment, aluminum pedals, magnesium paddle shifters. Illuminated kick plates ($440).
Infiniti QX70 3.7 AWD ($47,300).
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