I was excited when the 2015 Infiniti QX70 appeared in my driveway. Its low, swoopy lines and mean-looking, black 21-inch wheels told me up front that this wasn't going to be just another boring family car.
While the QX70 looks great, feels sexy and elicits plenty of compliments, after the novelty wore off, I found myself wanting out because of its harsh ride.
For 2015, the five-seat QX70 comes in two trims, the QX70 and the QX70 AWD (which I drove), both equipped with a 3.7-liter V-6 engine. The 5.0-liter V-8 has been discontinued. Several packages are available to customize the QX70. My test car was kitted out with the Technology, Premium and Sport packages. A Deluxe Touring Package is also available. Compare the differences between the 2015 and 2014 versions here.
If the QX70 doesn't quite quench your thirst, you may want to look into other luxury-compact performance-oriented SUVs, like the BMW X3 or the Porsche Macan. If you're looking for something more family-oriented and less sport-focused, consider Infiniti's own QX60, a larger but more affordable model with seating for seven. Compare them side-by-side here.
Exterior & Styling
There's no mistaking the Infiniti QX70 out on the road — though you might mistake its name, given Infiniti bafflingly renamed its entire product lineup a year ago. The QX70 is the new incarnation of the old FX, and it's still just as recognizable.
My test car came with the optional Sport Package ($3,550), which instantly sets it apart from versions without, adding a dark-finish front grille and wheels. It looks pretty malicious driving down the road, as if it's getting ready to chew up and spit out your adorably functional little urban family-hauler.
While the QX70's low stance makes stepping in and out quite easy, the swooping roofline cuts off quite a bit of headroom for rear passengers, generally requiring a slight ducking motion to get in.
How It Drives
My test QX70 felt like it was trying too hard to assert its sportiness through both a tight suspension and its exhaust note. The end result comes off as slightly unrefined, harsh on the senses and fatigue-inducing after relatively short stints in the car. Acceleration felt oddly delayed and underpowered, and the brakes were grabby at low speeds.
In my experience, while many drivers may think they want something sporty (an ode to their preschool, Big Wheels racing days in the driveway), what many of them actually want is something that gives the appearance of being sporty — and with the option of feeling sporty from time to time in the driver's seat — yet with a Comfort mode to soothe stress after a long day's work. The QX70 lacks the latter. The standard 18-inch wheels may provide a softer ride than the Sport Package's 21s, but our experience with the QX70 (and the FX before it) suggests even that version would still be among the firmest-riding models on the road.
The QX70 AWD's 325-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 engine gets an EPA-estimated 16/22/18 mpg city/highway/combined. With rear-wheel drive, it's rated 17/24/19 mpg. Though larger, the QX60's mileage estimates are as high as 20/26/22 mpg with front-wheel drive.
The QX70's aggressive exterior design comes at the cost of backseat space — not a problem if you rarely transport additional passengers, but for those of us with a gaggle of kids, it's really not that functional. The sloping rear roofline makes for tight headroom and a claustrophobic feel for anyone over 5 feet tall. The 34.6 inches of backseat legroom was a tight squeeze for my three girls (ages 9, 11 and 14). As a comparison, the BMW X3 has 36.8 inches of legroom in the backseat.
Storage inside the QX70 is limited to the basics: narrow in-door pockets up front (none in the back), two cupholders between the driver and front passenger, two cupholders and a storage bin in the fold-down armrest in the backseat, a pocket on the back of each of the front seats, and your standard small center console and glove box.
The fold-down armrest in the backseat proved difficult for kids to fold down on their own. Rather than simply pulling it down singlehandedly, a release tab needed to be pulled and held out with one hand while the armrest was pulled down with the other hand, much like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time.
Combined with the black leather interior of my test car and its dark roof-liner, the contrast purple stitching was an absolute standout. My teenage daughter, whose bedroom is painted a shade of purple, pointed it out within her first few seconds inside the car, and everyone else in the family then admired it. It manages to be subtle, then pops and wows when the sun hits it just right.
Ergonomics & Electronics
The biggest ergonomic annoyance in the QX70 hits you right up front, as you go to adjust the side mirrors before even driving. To do so, you have to lean forward to reach the controls below and to the left of the steering wheel, make a few adjustments, then sit back in your seat and hope you got it right. Which, of course, you didn't. Then you lean forward again, guesstimate how much more it needs to be adjusted, then sit back and hope that this time you got it right. Then rinse and repeat with the other side. This clearly needs to be rethought.
The Bluetooth system made it quick and easy to pair phones, and my husband and I both commented on how easy it was to turn off the entire navigation screen to preserve our night vision by pressing and holding the day/night button, rather than fiddling through menu screens like on other vehicles.
I also appreciated that the seat heat and optional ventilation have a dedicated dial. In high-altitude Colorado temperature swings, I find I use either the seat heat or ventilation on almost every drive. Rather than having to press through multiple touch-screen menus just to find the seat climate controls, I could quickly adjust the setting to booty bliss. When switched to full-speed cooling, the fans were intrusively loud, however, and need to be tamed down a bit.
Cargo & Storage
With backseat legroom at a premium in the QX70 — and its sloping rear lines looking as if they would limit cargo capacity — I was expecting a much smaller cargo space. However, there was 24.8 cubic feet of storage space behind the backseat, enough to easily fit four overstuffed kitchen trash bags full of clothes from my three daughters' annual before-school closet clean-out, along with a large plastic contractor bag full of books. Impressive. I'm not sure this would have been possible in the BMW X3's 19.4 cubic feet of cargo space, and it definitely wouldn't have been in the Porsche Macan, which has only 17.7 cubic feet of cargo space.
If even more space is needed, levers in the cargo area easily release the rear seats to fold them flat, increasing cargo capacity to 62 cubic feet. A power liftgate makes access to the cargo area easy. For comparison, because of its third row of seats, the QX60 has only 15.8 cubic feet to start out with, but a full 76.5 with both rear rows folded.
Crash tests have not been conducted on the 2015 QX70, although according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2014 results will apply to the 2015. The 2014 Infiniti QX70 received the Institute's highest rating of good (on a scale of good, acceptable, marginal and poor) in both the moderate-overlap front crash test as well as the head restraint and rear-impact seat-protection test.
The lane departure warning system in the QX70's Technology Package has an audible beep to let you know when you appear to be crossing a lane marker unintentionally. The abundance of beeps in the QX70, from the lane departure warning as well as the front and rear parking sensors, quickly renders all of them ineffective. It's like me constantly barking at my daughter to stop hoarding Izze soda bottles in her bedroom (apparently she plans to paint them and make a wind chime?). I'm sure she'd like to simply switch me off the way I often ended up shutting down the QX70's lane departure warning system.
If you don't respond to the beep, the QX70 will gently nudge you back into your lane. Much of the high-end automotive world has evolved to a more effective, tactile lane departure alert via either a vibrating seat or auto steering correct, finding that drivers often don't like the audible tone alerting everyone in the car every time they veer over a lane. Infiniti could do without the beep.
Early on, Infiniti was on the cutting edge of external cameras in its cars, in particular with its innovative Around View Monitor. However, compared with others out there today that have very large, clear images, the camera display in the QX70 can be split between a default backup fish-eye view and the optional Around View, making each image too small and grainy to see and register clearly. You can use the touch-screen to toggle to a single image or other views, but who wants to fuss with that when you're just trying to avoid a rogue toddler escaping his parents' grasp in the grocery store parking lot?
My biggest surprise in my $59K-plus test car was a lack of blind spot monitors. There's quite a drastic blind spot in the QX70 due to its small, sloping side rear windows. If Dodge can offer them in an under-$20K Dart, they should most definitely be standard in a luxury SUV at this price.
For families installing child-safety seats in the QX70, there are two sets of Latch connectors in the backseat's outboard seating positions. The Latch anchors are concealed behind slits in the seat bight. A third top-tether anchor is behind the middle seat, so a forward-facing child seat can be installed in the middle using the seat belt and top tether. The seat belt buckles are on flimsy nylon bases, making them difficult for younger, booster-seat-sized children to buckle independently with their limited fine motor skills.
See all the standard safety features listed here.
Value in Its Class
Since the Infiniti QX70's predecessor, the FX, was introduced in the 2003 model year, it's definitely kept up its end of the style bargain by nipping and tucking here and there, enhancing its most standout and unique design features. It's also stayed true to its performance-oriented driving feel. However, since then, other compact luxury SUVs have started to encroach upon its territory and it may no longer be top dog.
With similar vehicles offering the option to toggle between Comfort and Sport modes, more up-to-date technologies — such as blind spot monitoring — and niceties like panoramic roofs, the QX70's value proposition is starting to slip.
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