Versus the competiton:
Infiniti has injected new life — and extra length — into its midsize Q70 sedan for 2015, but its electronics remain stuck in the past.
Though the car long known as the M37/M56 was renamed Q70 for 2014, only now has it gotten an updated exterior with minor enhancements inside. The big news for 2015, though, is the larger model Infiniti has added, the Q70L.
Thanks to the Q70L’s larger overall size, rear passengers now have ridiculously spacious accommodations, versus the just-spacious-enough environment in the regular Q70. Luxury buyers, however, may be more focused on technology, and that hasn’t been upgraded for 2015. These tech relics may prevent people from appreciating how great-looking the car is and how it compares to the best of its competition.
I drove a V-8-powered Q70L for this review. You can compare the 2014 and 2015 Q70 here.
All Q70s have a revised exterior that sharpens the previous model’s smooth yet somewhat bulbous lines. This helps bring the Q70 more in line with the recently redesigned Q50 compact sedan while still retaining the elegant feel it’s always had.
The new headlights feature light-pipe “eyebrow” daytime running lights. It’s a modern technique much of the competition uses, but I wasn’t fond of the chrome jewelry surrounding the fog lights. This is the standard look for all three trim levels: the Q70, Q70L and Q70 Hybrid. However, on the standard-wheelbase Q70 you can opt for a Sport Package that has a different treatment up front, dumping the fog-light jewelry, among other tweaks. Perhaps Infiniti should just make the change across the board.
The Q70 and Q70L come standard with a 3.7-liter V-6 that produces 330 horsepower and 270 pounds-feet of torque. A 5.6-liter V-8 and all-wheel drive are optional on both, and the model I tested for this review was equipped with both.
I would be perfectly happy driving that engine forever. Sure, other cars in this class sport more than 420 hp, but there aren’t many power plants out there that still emit such a mechanical grunt and visceral feel — and other editors agreed.
In place of the standard rear-wheel drive, the optional all-wheel drive means acceleration is almost instantaneous. You might think the Q70 is just a point-and-shoot muscle machine, but it handles well, too, with heavy yet accurate steering that reminds me of the heyday of the best handlers in this class — BMWs that are now gone.
The V-8, all-wheel-drive Q70L feels as heavy as you’d expect a 4,345-pound machine to be. I was a bit surprised when comparing specs that the V-8-powered BMW 550 is heavier, at 4,519 pounds, as it doesn’t feel quite as weighed down as the Infiniti. The regular-wheelbase Q70 with all-wheel drive and a V-8 weighs 4,224, while the V-6 Q70 comes in at 4,063 pounds with all-wheel drive. Japanese all-wheel-drive competitors like the Acura RLX and Lexus GS 350 both come in under 4,000 pounds. In short, the Q70 weighs more and feels like it, while the RLX and GS sport similar room inside and are lighter on their feet, delivering a significantly different driving feel.
You can compare the Q70, RLX, GS 350 and 5 Series here.
Mileage for the Q70 V-6 and V-8 — with or without all-wheel drive — is directly in line with the competition. My V-8 all-wheel-drive test car was rated 16/23/18 mpg city/highway/combined. I averaged only 14.8 mpg in my time with the car in mostly congested commuting traffic and on suburban surface roads. That number wasn’t helped by the V-8, which basically begged me to strap on my lead foot.
The Q70’s interior wowed me when it debuted in the 2011 M37 and M56. There have been minor improvements since then, including a few with this 2015 update, but what’s remarkable is how well the basics of the 4-year-old interior have held up when compared with the competition.
Neither the RLX nor GS feel as plush inside as the Q70’s generously padded leather seats or quilted door coverings. The wood that adorns nearly the entire center console, as well as various sections of the dash and doors, looks good, too; a pearlescent version I’ve previously tested is my favorite. The controls still look to be on par with the competition; the small, chromed dials for the heated and cooled seats are another personal favorite — and then there’s just how comfortable the seats are up front with their wide bottoms and backs.
Shoppers interested in the larger rear confines of the Q70L will be glad to know that it’s more than 5 inches of extra legroom versus the Q70; that’s an even more significant increase than a simple number can express. Adults will be able to cross their legs if they feel so inclined. My children are still in child-safety seats, but they can open this car’s doors and climb into the seats all on their own.
The footwells in the Q70L are so large that both my children could stand in them without touching either the rear or front seats, with the only obstacle being the large hump in the middle of the floor housing the driveshaft.
When you test cars for a living, it becomes very apparent when multimedia systems are truly easy to use. You often switch from a car with touch interfaces, buttons, control knobs and more, which are laid out in a specific way, to another car with all those things done in a completely different manner.
Sure, owners will get used to whatever setup they must live with over time, but that doesn’t change the inherent ease of use of a good system like that found in the Infiniti. The Q70 sports such a system, with a single large display screen, a control knob directly below it, and a small array of buttons that work as shortcuts for the most frequently used functions. This is what you want out of a good multimedia system.
Where the Q70 loses points is that this system is still an aging one, especially in terms of graphics clarity and the greater number of features competitors include (things like enhancements to navigation or apps for streaming radio and more).
The most glaringly dated aspect resides between the two rather elegant gauges: the poor trip computer. The small screen is stuck a few years in the past, with a white-on-black, pixelated readout that the Q70’s lowly sibling the Nissan Altima puts to shame with its own crisp display in that area.
It might seem like a small thing, but in an interior that otherwise stands the test of time, a potential shopper might not be able to look past it.
The Q70 and Q70L have identical trunk volume, measuring 14.9 cubic feet. It’s a space most shoppers will find plenty large enough for luggage, golf bags and other day-to-day cargo. The RLX has identical dimensions, and the 5 Series and Lexus GS come in slightly smaller.
Inside, the aging design doesn’t satisfy modern demand for places to shove mobile appliances, like large smartphones and numerous water bottles. The cubby in the center console is a decent size, however.
The Q70 has a five-star overall crash-test rating from the federal government, and it earned Top Safety Pick Plus status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. To earn IIHS’ top designation, cars must combine favorable test ratings with forward-collision prevention systems. Infiniti’s was one of the earliest on the market.
The Q70’s optional system has both collision warning and automated emergency braking. In IIHS testing, the braking system prevented a collision in the low-speed, 12-mph test and reduced impact at 22 mph in the higher-speed test.
The Q70 also has available lane departure warning and a 360-degree camera system that aids in parking, called Around View Monitor. It’s a favorite technology among Cars.com’s editors.
See all the Q70’s safety features here.
Starting at just more than $50,000 for a V-6, rear-wheel-drive Q70, the Infiniti sedan is priced competitively for the segment. Move up to the loaded, V-8-powered Q70L like the one we tested and you’re looking at a sticker just over $75,000 — hard to swallow no matter how well it measures up against similarly powered models on the market.