Fast but Not Fun
The Infiniti QX60 gets a little more power for its engine, a 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 making 295 horsepower, up from the 284 the Pathfinder makes. Torque is up to 270 lb-ft, a slight bump from the Pathfinder’s 259. The has a continuously variable transmission, with a manual shift mode and programming that makes it behave like a traditional geared transmission in most driving situations. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive optional.
Keep the mode selector in Normal mode and you’ll be greeted with a responsive, peppy engine that moves the QX60 with surprising alacrity. The transmission is inoffensive, behaving mostly like you’d expect a CVT to behave — delivering power linearly, never feeling like it’s hunting for a gear. Switch the rotary selector into Eco mode, however, and the engine is emasculated in favor of fuel economy, creating such an awful driving experience that you’ll likely decide the fuel savings aren’t worth it. Sport mode is similarly unpleasant, but in the opposite direction: The changes to its shifting and engine response make it jumpy and skittish. Leave it in Normal and the QX60 is a happier beast.
The steering won’t make you all that happy, however. It’s ridiculously heavy at lower speeds, requiring more effort, presumably in an attempt to make it feel more substantial and responsive than the Pathfinder. Yet on the highway it’s darty and oversensitive, making it difficult to maintain a line in your lane without keeping two hands on the wheel at all times and paying very close attention.
Two bright points: Ride quality is an excellent mix of good control and supple bump-soaking ability, and the brakes are strong and confidence-inspiring. That well-tuned ride, combined with a quiet, well-insulated cabin, make the QX60 more pleasant for passengers than for the driver. The Audi Q7 is far better to drive, with a responsive powertrain and sophisticated chassis control that shames the QX60’s driving experience.
At least the CVT does well for fuel economy, delivering an estimated 19/26/22 mpg city/highway/combined with all-wheel drive — a competitive number for a big SUV with a large V-6 engine. It’s better than the Audi Q7’s much smaller and less-powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is rated 19/25/21 mpg, but is rated exactly the same as the 3.5-liter-V-6-equipped Acura MDX.
Improved Safety Tech
The 2017 model year QX60 did quite well in crash tests, with top scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety across the board (with the exception of headlight performance, judged to be poor). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the QX60 five stars overall.
The QX60 has an impressive array of optional safety features, much of it electronic-based collision prevention. There’s forward automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection; a 360-degree Around View Monitor with moving-object detection; rear parking sensors with brake intervention should an object be detected; blind spot warning and intervention; and even predictive forward collision warning that can detect if the car in front of the car in front of you is slowing.
Carries Plenty of Stuff
In terms of size, the QX60 matches up well with the Audi Q7. The Infiniti has 15.8 cubic feet of room behind the third row and 40.8 cubic feet with the third row folded. There’s a maximum of 76.5 cubic feet with the second and third rows down. The Q7 is similar: 14.8, 37.5 and 71.6 cubic feet, respectively. If you need more room, upgrade to the Buick Enclave, which features a minivan-like 23.6 cubic feet behind the third row, and 58.0 and 97.6 cubic feet with the third and second rows stowed, respectively.
Starts Cheap, Ends Pricey
The Infiniti QX60 is reasonably priced if you plan on going for a base model; that’s just $44,095 with FWD and $45,895 with AWD, including destination fee. Once you start adding option packages, however, you’ll see that price climb. My test vehicle included the Premium Package (Bose audio upgrade, memory seats, heated steering wheel, remote engine start, roof rails), the Premium Plus Package (navigation, 360-degree cameras, parking sonar, rain-sensing wipers), the Theater Package (rear entertainment system) and the Deluxe Technology Package (20-inch wheels, a further upgraded Bose audio system, heated and cooled front seats, a motion-activated liftgate, intelligent cruise control and more). The total: $60,045.
Competing vehicles that seat seven in luxurious accommodations can be had from a few other brands. The closest may be the Buick Enclave, which was redesigned for 2018 and base price is similar to the QX60. We haven’t driven one yet, but its amenities, luxurious appointments and space certainly make it comparable. You’ll spend more to get an Audi Q7 and likely end up with less car in terms of amenities, but it provides a superior luxury-driving experience — its materials quality, design and sophistication all put the QX60 to shame. The Acura MDX has nearly as much room as the Enclave, but it suffers from some similar issues as the QX60 in terms of luxury sophistication, with a lot of lesser Honda parts shining through the Acura veneer. You can compare all four competitors here.
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