Versus the competiton:
The verdict: A powerful V-8 engine can’t make up for the awkward handling, strange ergonomics and dated electronics of the 2016 Infiniti Q70.
Versus the competition: There are plenty of better $70,000 cars that feature up-to-date multimedia systems and displays, top-notch handling, powerful engines and luxurious interiors.
Big, rear-wheel-drive luxury cars are the aspirational rides of choice for millions of people around the world. They’re the technology showcases for luxury brands, featuring dazzling electronics, remarkable powertrains and styling meant to epitomize their brand’s themes and execution. Infiniti’s top sedan is the Q70, a rear- or all-wheel-drive sedan featuring a V-6, V-8 or hybrid powertrain. It’s available as a long-wheelbase model, as well.
The Q70 had its last major redesign in 2010, back when it was still called the M. A minor refresh for the 2015 model year brought slightly updated styling but carried over the powertrain (see the changes from 2015 to 2016 here). Despite that refresh not two years ago, the Q70 has some challenges. Many competing vehicles have undergone major redos, including the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Lexus GS, and others are entirely new, like the Cadillac CT6. Can the Q70 keep Infiniti in the fight for premium buyers?
The styling of the Q70 has never been a problem. It’s sleek, muscular and employs the classic “Coke-bottle” shape that has adorned performance cars for decades. It’s a good look, lending the Q70 a swoopy shape that hides the car’s size. But it has one unusual issue: The gaps between the top of the tires and the bottom of the fender arches are comically wide. I could fit my entire fist between the big, optional 20-inch rear tires and the fender without touching either one, lending the car a strange, lifted look that may be an unfortunate side effect of its all-wheel-drive powertrain.
A longer version is also available in the Q70L, with an extended wheelbase that creates more rear seat room, but my test car was a normal-wheelbase Premium Select Edition featuring dark chrome exterior trim, dark bumpers, a deck-lid spoiler and special wheels. The look is svelte and appealing, and aside from the aforementioned odd wheel wells, it would stand up nicely against more modern designs like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series, Cadillac CT6 and Lexus GS.
Under the shapely hood of my test car was a beast of an engine: Infiniti’s 5.6-liter V-8. It’s the optional motor; a 3.7-liter V-6 comes standard. The big V-8 makes a naturally aspirated 420 horsepower, which translates into plenty of thrust and an impressive, throaty burble. It doesn’t sound as brash as some of the American V-8 sedans, or as mechanically sonorous as those from German luxury brands, but it provides plenty of smooth power, especially when combined with the seven-speed automatic transmission. The Q70 sits on a rear-wheel-drive platform, and my test model featured optional all-wheel drive.
That all-wheel drive is primarily for traction in inclement conditions; it’s not for improved handling, as the Q70’s ride and handling are a bit of a mess. The steering and suspension are frenetic and felt poorly matched to my test car’s massive 20-inch wheels. Broken pavement sends the steering wheel into jerky fits in the driver’s hands, and it can even cause the car to lose its tracking as the stiff sport suspension sends plenty of vibration and harsh reaction into the cabin. At 70 mph, the passenger seat vibrates and quivers if nobody is in it. Steering feel and feedback aren’t bad, but there’s no impetus to drive this car in an aggressive, sporty manner given the suspension’s unsettled nature.
That’s a shame, because there are several things about the Q70 that are, independently, quite good. The four-piston front and two-piston rear brakes included with the Premium Select Edition option package are strong, and the powertrain is impressive, but the rest of the platform feels as if it’s been wound too tight. The Cadillac CT6, by contrast, is a paragon of effortless motoring; it’s smooth and well-damped, with chassis sophistication that surpasses the Q70’s. The exact same thing can be said of BMW’s excellent 550i xDrive sedan. Even the new Genesis G80 feels better-executed than the Q70.
While the power from the 5.6-liter V-8 is nice, the fuel economy penalty you’ll pay for it is not. The Q70 V-8 is EPA-rated at 16/23/18 mpg city/highway/combined with all-wheel drive. My week of driving netted only about 16 mpg overall. The V-6 is more efficient, rated 18/24/20 mpg with all-wheel drive. Rear-drive versions are better in both cases: 18/26/21 mpg with the V-6 and 16/24/19 mpg with the V-8.
If fuel economy is important to you, the Q70 can be had as a hybrid, as well, which is rated a much more impressive 29/34/31 mpg. Competitors like the BMW 550i xDrive aren’t much more efficient, garnering a 16/25/19 mpg rating, but other competitors have eschewed big V-8 engines in exchange for smaller, turbocharged ones. The all-wheel-drive Cadillac CT6 is a good example of this: Its top engine is a twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter V-6 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It makes almost as much power as the Infiniti V-8 but is rated 18/26/21 mpg. The Genesis G80 has V-8 power but not with all-wheel drive. It’s rated slightly worse: 15/23/18 mpg.
The Infiniti Q70’s cabin presents new issues. The seating position is unusually high, making it easy to get into but requiring an unexpected step down when getting out. Visibility is good, and the sculpted hood is fun to peer over (it’s always fun when the exterior styling is viewable from the interior). But it can’t be denied that, overall, the interior feels old and less than competitive.
Seat comfort is decent, especially in the back, and leather quality is acceptable. But the Q70’s faux aluminum trim doesn’t match up well from the dash to the doors, and the quality of the plastic feels no better than the best Nissans; it’s certainly not worth a premium price.
A big part of the problem with the interior involves its out-of-date electronic displays — from the central gauge cluster’s monochrome LCD to a menu-based multimedia system that looks nearly a decade out of date, lacking the resolution of today’s best systems. It all just makes the Q70 feel old. The resolution issue with the central screen is a big one because it makes the backup camera’s clarity terrible. It looks as if someone has smeared Vaseline over the camera lens.
The Q70’s button layout is also confusing, with seemingly little logic to the scattering of functions. It requires more attention while driving than it should. There was even a panel of switches located low on the dash, by my left knee, which were hard to operate while in motion. Simply put, the Q70’s interior ergonomics need a complete rethinking.
Luggage space in the trunk is average, rated at 14.9 cubic feet of space — plenty of room for a few large suitcases. The Cadillac CT6 and Genesis G80 are a little bit larger, at 15.3 cubic feet, and the BMW 550i (which at least has a 60/40-split folding backseat) is a bit smaller, at 14.0 cubic feet. The Q70’s backseat is a bench that doesn’t fold down but does offer an opening through the center armrest for longer items, like skis or things from the hardware store.
The 2016 Infiniti Q70 received top scores in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests and a five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You can see how the V-6 model scored in all the various crash tests here.
Despite the Q70’s out-of-date interior electronics, there is a full complement of modern safety equipment available: blind spot warning with steering intervention, forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking, backup collision intervention with automatic braking, lane departure warning and prevention, parking sensors, 360-degree cameras with moving object detection, and more. See a full list of the Q70’s safety equipment here.
The Infiniti Q70 starts at $50,775 (including destination fee) for a base, rear-wheel-drive Q70 3.7. The all-wheel-drive version runs $52,905. Upgrade to a rear-wheel-drive Q70 5.6 and it’ll cost you $63,755, while the all-wheel-drive Q70 5.6 I tested starts at $66,255.
My car included a Premium Select Edition Package for $3,300, bringing my as-tested total to $69,555. You can certainly go higher. Add the Technology Package, which includes all those electronic safety goodies, and you’re also required to add either the Sport Package or Deluxe Touring Package, as well — but you can’t have it with the Premium Select Edition Package. Tick all the boxes, and you can max out a standard-wheelbase Q70 at just under $75,000. The longer-wheelbase Q70L model isn’t much more expensive, maxing out at just a little more than $76,000.
Competitors have passed the Infiniti Q70 in styling, efficiency, onboard technological sophistication and more. The Cadillac CT6 offers big interior space, stylish surroundings, cutting-edge technology and a choice of powertrains. Its fully loaded price comes in nearly $10,000 more than a top Q70L, but lesser versions — that still have plenty of equipment and the powerful twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V-6 engine — can be had for a comparable price.
The 2017 Genesis G80 is perhaps best known by the name it was called last year: the Hyundai Genesis. Part of a new luxury brand from Hyundai, it’s got a smooth, comfortable, rear-wheel-drive chassis and a choice of V-6 or V-8 power, as well. Like Infiniti, though, it’s not generally considered a top-tier luxury brand.
The BMW 550i xDrive is more bona fide, and its twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V-8 beats out even the Infiniti’s engine for horsepower and refinement. Combined with all-wheel drive it’s more expensive than the Q70 when comparable options are added, but its sophistication, chassis dynamics and superior multimedia technology give it an edge. Compare all four competitors here.