Currently dominated worldwide by the Q50 sports sedan, Infiniti’s sales are beginning to see disruption by their American-focused mid-size crossover, the QX60. So, what makes this handsome seven-passenger utility so successful?
#1 It’s attractive.
When Infiniti introduced the JX35 crossover in 2012 as a larger option than the popular FX35, sales didn’t exactly rocket among well-heeled parents in need of replacing or upgrading their family hauler. Infiniti kept at it though, adjusted correctly (they even changed the name to QX60), and the rest is history.
To compound the QX60’s sales success, Infiniti isn’t resting on their laurels. The refreshed 2017 QX60 has seen its lines sharpened by Infiniti’s design director, Alfonso Albaisa. The new 20-inch wheel option adds better proportion and another element of beauty to this already stunning family vehicle.
#2 It drives in the quietest of ways.
When cruising comfortably down the highway at 60 mph you could almost hear a pin drop in the third row. OK, maybe it’s not Rolls-Royce quiet, but even on the optional 20-inch wheels, bumps and potholes are hushed away from your bottom due to the well-balanced suspension.
#3 The steering is respectable.
This year’s model also benefits from improved steering that doesn’t suffer from a numb and ultra-light feel as in previous model years. The result is some basic road feel for the driver, but not so much that you feel like you’re driving a frenetic Porsche Cayenne Turbo (which has three fewer seats and a much higher price).
#4 Power is up.
Under the hood, power is also improved. Up from 265 to 295 horsepower, the 2017 QX60 3.5 AWD benefits from a more fuel-efficient and muscle-gaining direct injection setup, which brings it in line with many of its competitors. Unlike its competitors, however, the seven-passenger family-mover suffers from a boringly experienced continuously variable transmission (CVT).
No automotive enthusiasts like CVT’s, yet in the opinion of yours truly, the QX60’s is acceptable, but still could be improved. It isn’t as obnoxious as the outgoing model’s howling disaster, but the preference for a 7- or 8-speed automatic to complement driving pleasure still leaves something to be desired. That said, gears are replicated with the advantage of no “thunks” between gear changes, which luxury vehicle buyers demand.
Overall, the QX60 reminds me of the first car that was all my own, a seventh-generation Nissan Maxima (2009-2015 model years). Using a similar engine and transmission in that mid-sized sedan meshed well with the longer wheelbase and added weight. Still, the QX60 feels a bit underpowered for my taste in a vehicle of its size (200-inches long) and weight (all-wheel drive models are 4,519 pounds). Ideally, Infiniti could add an extra 55 horses and about the same amount of torque to compete with faster models in the luxury mid-size utility segment. Then again, ditching the CVT for something sportier could help as well.
#5 It fits all your stuff.
As far as cargo capability is concerned, the QX60 is quite competent. For everyday grocery shopping, you can fit 15.8 cubic feet of milk and eggs behind the third row. Fold those thrones down with the integrated release mechanisms and your grocery trip becomes a discount warehouse adventure by swallowing 40.8 cubic feet of toilet paper. With both the second and third rows down, the QX60 becomes a pickup truck replacement and allows for foreman duties at your local big box hardware store by containing 76.5 cubic feet of building supplies.
No vehicle is perfect.
For all this mid-size utility’s upgrades and updates, there is still a sore spot in need of improvement: the infotainment system. It’s not that it’s hard to use (it isn’t), or that the Bose Audio surround sound system is poor (it sounds quite rich, actually). The real drawback is that the system is just long in the tooth. Old. Outdated-feeling. The competition has moved on with higher resolution screens, haptic touch and gesture motions. End rant.
Overall, the 2017 QX60 is a value luxury option for consumers wanting a lot of bang for their buck without compromising on utility or amenities. It starts at $43,100 for the FWD model and $44,900 for the AWD version. For those reasons, it’s a worthy adversary of any other vehicle in its segment and should be on every buyer’s radar.