Versus the competiton:
The verdict: The seven-seat 2016 Infiniti QX60 looks like a member of the premium SUV class with its runway-ready styling and posh, classy cabin, but its rough ride and unrefined transmission reveal it as a luxury imposter.
Versus the competition: While the Infiniti QX60 out-styles most of its rivals, its competitors are quieter and have more polished road manners.
For 2016, the QX60 crossover gets a minor exterior styling update and some newly available safety features. Click here to compare it with the 2015 model. Click here to compare it with key competitors: the Acura MDX, Audi Q7 and Buick Enclave.
It’s not easy for an automaker’s SUV to resemble its sexy coupes and sedans, but the QX60 does so. For 2016, designers tweaked its curves in all the right places. Though the styling update is subtle, it makes for a more fluid, dynamic look overall. Sleeker, sharper headlights, a plumper grille and a more chiseled face combine to give it an assertive stance. That attitude is matched in back with more angular taillights and a crisp bumper. Overall, it equals the Q7’s premium styling, and it’s trim and athletic compared with the plump Buick Enclave and generic Acura MDX.
Around town, the carryover 265-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine provides strong, no-nonsense power from a stop even when the SUV is loaded with people and gear. Pop it into Sport mode via a center console dial when you need more oomph; doing so grants quicker acceleration response and sprightlier takeoffs. Skip the tortoise-like Eco mode, however, which blunts acceleration to the point of annoyance.
The sole transmission is a continuously variable automatic and it delivers plenty of nonsense — loudly and frequently. Although the CVT does a convincing impression of stepped gears if you get hard on the gas, its near-constant drone is loud and awkward-sounding; it’s at odds with the car’s luxury intentions. Wind and road noise, however, are minimal.
The QX60’s road manners are also out of step. The Enclave and Q7 are quieter and have more refined-sounding engines, and others in the class deliver a smoother, cushier ride. The QX60’s ride is firm and rough, and larger bumps ripple through the cabin unsettlingly. Maneuverability could be tightened, as well; the SUV leans in corners and is a chore to park, though the available around-view camera system reduces the stress of parking maneuvers.
Fuel economy is competitive. With all-wheel drive, the Infiniti QX60 AWD is rated 19/26/22 mpg city/highway/combined, besting the Buick Enclave (15/22/17) and roughly matching both the Acura MDX (19/26/22) and Audi Q7 (19/25/21).
Unlike those competitors, the Infiniti QX60 offers a hybrid model. It uses a supercharged, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a lithium-ion battery and an electric motor to generate a combined 250 hp. Fuel economy ratings are impressive for a vehicle this large, at 25/28/26 mpg, but the hybrid price premium is steep.
Every time one of my three monster kids spills something on our crusty old couch, I’m reminded of every parent’s favorite mantra: “This is why we can’t have nice things.” An exception should be made for the Infiniti QX60’s cabin. Not only do its upscale appointments add a touch of luxury to life’s messy, everyday grind, it’s also roomy and loaded with features that make parenting a bit easier.
The cabin nails the premium vibe with its classy wood trim, tufted leather seats and thoughtful details, like contrast stitching and piping on the seats and surfaces. It all feels good, too; elbow touch-points are amply padded and the seats are comfortably bolstered. Standard heated front seats and optional creature comforts like a heated steering wheel, cooled front seats, heated second-row seats and a two-panel moonroof that covers all three rows are big wins. The second row also features an optional dual-screen DVD entertainment system, though I question its usefulness — and longevity. It’s not Blu-ray compatible, and in the age of streaming videos and tablets, I doubt my kids know what a DVD is; I haven’t purchased one in years. I’ll take a pair of tablet holders instead.
With 41.7 inches of maximum legroom — several inches more than competitors — the second-row bench seat has ample room for two child-safety seats (see our Car Seat Check) and its flexibility is impressive. Both sides of the 60/40-split bench fold and slide forward, creating a large walkway to the third row. Also, the section behind the front passenger seat can tip and slide forward with a forward-facing car seat installed. You’re out of luck if you have a rear-facing car seat or, in my case, a pair of them. The seat won’t tip or slide with one of those installed, making access to the third row tricky. I installed my first-grader’s booster in the third row and she had to awkwardly climb through the cargo area to reach it. Unfortunately, second-row captain’s chairs are not an option.
Legroom in the two-position third row is also generous; with 30.8 inches it bests the Q7 (29.2) and MDX (28.1) but isn’t quite as roomy as the Enclave (33.2). It also features a couple thoughtful amenities, like two USB ports and four cupholders. More important, it’s also safe to install a forward-facing car seat back there thanks to the Infiniti QX60’s single third-row top-tether anchor; automakers are not required to include lower Latch or top-tether anchors in the third row.
Although some editors called the Infiniti QX60’s multimedia system graphics dated (they are), looks aren’t everything. The bottom line is that the system is easy to use. The standard 7-inch screen (an 8-inch unit with navigation is optional) can be operated via touch or a combination of physical buttons and a rotary knob below the screen. I prefer to use the touch-screen; it’s responsive, and the system’s straightforward menu structure and visible “back” button make it easy to use. I especially appreciated the “status” button that brings you back to a summary screen displaying music and climate control settings.
That’s not to say the system couldn’t use an update, however. The tuning and volume knobs are set awkwardly low, and the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration systems are not available. One other electronic miss: There’s only one USB port for the first two rows. That’s especially stingy given there are two in the third row. There is, however, a 120-volt outlet in the second row.
There are plenty of small cubbies throughout the cabin, including a roomy center console and two-tier map pockets in the second row — great for stashing books or tablets … or, yes, even DVDs.
Behind the third row, there’s 15.8 cubic feet of space, matching the MDX and besting the Q7. It’s enough for a grocery run’s worth of bags or a bulky double stroller, but the Enclave offers much more with 23.3 cubic feet.
Folding the seats down for more room is easy, however, and getting them back up is even simpler if you add an optional power return feature that motors the third row upright with the push of a button, eliminating the awkward climb to grab a tether and yank the seat back up. With the third row down, the QX60 has 40.8 cubic feet of cargo space, again well shy of the Enclave’s 68.9.
The 2016 Infiniti QX60 earned the highest possible score in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crashworthiness and crash-avoidance testing, and five stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A backup camera is standard; optional features include blind spot warning, lane departure warning and prevention, and an around-view camera system. Infiniti also said it’s updated its optional pre-crash collision warning system with automatic emergency braking; it works in forward and reverse and also detects pedestrians. These systems are bundled into pricey option packages, but as a mom who routinely parks near playing children, the assistance of the auto-brake features brings priceless peace of mind.
Also available is the Infiniti Connection emergency communication system. It includes safety features like roadside assistance, automatic crash notification, an emergency call button, stolen vehicle reporting, alarm notification, and remote door lock and unlock. The system also allows you to set geo-fences, curfew limits for driving time and speed limit alerts to help parents keep tabs on new teen drivers.
Click here for a full list of safety features.
The Infiniti QX60 starts at $43,595 for a base, front-wheel-drive model; add about $2,000 for AWD (all prices include destination). That’s a few hundred dollars cheaper than AWD versions of the similar body-type Enclave and MDX and considerably less expensive than the AWD-only Q7 ($55,750).
Price isn’t always a factor for luxury car shoppers, but if it is, you’ll find that the Infiniti QX60 delivers portions of the luxury SUV experience for a competitive price.