by Roger Biermann
This familiar luxury sedan has been around for almost a decade (albeit under another name to start), and despite offering a spacious interior, comfortable drive and various options to choose from in terms of engine configuration, this five-seater is up against some rather stiff competition. Compared to the likes of German enigmas like the BMW 5 Series and the suave Jaguar XF, the Q70 is due for a serious update on almost all levels. An aging infotainment system is not the only disadvantage on the 2018 range, although most of the areas where rivals fare better could be remedied by a full, modernized redesign since much of the vehicle has remained the same over the course of the last seven years. An enthusiastic V8 engine is one positive for the 2018 year, and the option of either a more fuel-efficient hybrid model or longer-wheelbase variant for a more luxurious feel exists within the current range.
While no feature changes have been made to the 2018 range, a revised list of model names and packages have been implemented, with all base models now called either 3.6 Luxe or 5.6 Luxe depending on powertrain.
This five-seater sedan has the same sweeping curves it has become known for, culminating in a distinctive front-end with LED headlights and fog lamps beside a chrome-outlined grille. The power-folding exterior mirrors also feature integrated turn signals, and the vehicle rides on 18-inch double five-spoke alloy wheels in the base trim. The rear of the vehicle features dual-tipped exhausts with polished finishers and a contemporary design that arguably, is the only feature on this vehicle that has aged well. A sunroof is standard on this range, and with no difference between the basic trim models, all other exterior features are added by means of purchasing packages to enhance the appearance of the vehicle through spoilers, fascias and bigger wheels (sport package).
The standard wheelbase model Q70 has a total length of 196.1 inches and a width of 72.6 inches across the range. Height varies from 59.1 inches on the rear-wheel drive configuration to 59.6 inches on the all-wheel drive, which is relatively average for this segment. A wheelbase of 114.2 inches offers a roomy cabin as a result, and with curb weights between 3,876 lbs and 4,239 lbs depending on the engine and drivetrain equipped, this sedan isn't remarkably different to rivals as a heavyweight.
No particularly exciting colors are available on the seven-shade palette for the Q70, although the options that do exist speak of class and elegance; for a vehicle with a sporty, V8 engine, a hearty, robust red would have fared well in comparison to the thrilling options on the likes of the BMW 5 Series. The exterior color range for 2018 includes Liquid Platinum, Graphite Shadow, Hagane Blue, Hermosa Blue, Chestnut Bronze, and Black Obsidian as standard options, while Majestic White is the only premium paint option and costs $500 extra.
Despite being equipped with two strong engine configurations, the Q70 remains, unfortunately, rather average when it comes to performance. The base model 3.7-liter V6 engine makes 330 horsepower, whilst the top-end 5.6-liter V8 produces 420 hp, which is only slightly less than biggest rival BMW 550i. During road tests, the Q70 proved to be fast off the line, reaching 0-60 mph in only five seconds in 5.6 Luxe guise with all-wheel drive. Whilst this is admittedly not bad when comparing to true performance vehicles like the BMW, it is really nothing to write home about. In truth, the Q70 presents itself as more of a luxury sedan than anything pertaining to sports-car performance. Engines are paired to a seven-speed automatic transmission, and can be had in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, configurations which are standard for this segment.
At the entry point of the range is the 3.7-liter V6 engine that produces 330 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. The more powerful engine option is the 5.6-liter V8, making 420 hp and 417 lb-ft. All powertrains are paired to a seven-speed automatic transmission which offers a seamless and effortless day-to-day drive experience. Acceleration from start is rapid and impressive - so long as you floor the accelerator. At lower revs, upshifts are a little slower and can make overtaking a little frustrating, a fault of a gearbox not as sharp and efficient as the ZF eight-speed used by German competition. Despite these niggling concerns, the general punch of the bigger engine is satisfying, and it presents a lovely rumble to accompany the surge forward. In the V6 configuration, quite a bit of engine noise seeps into the cabin, although active noise cancellation strives to dampen it.
Marketed as a luxury sedan, the Q70 offers in-drive comfort from a soft suspension and composed sense of handling, paired with an engine that should be serving up a sporty drive. This marriage isn't well-matched in all respects though, and the vehicle can seem shaky on rough surfaces, particularly when riding on the available 20-inch wheels. In terms of handling, however, the Q70 does actually impress: nimble and athletic around corners and bends despite its heft, this vehicle handles like a smaller sports sedan. Some bounce does feedback to the cabin, but this can be remedied through the purchasing of the Sport package for upgraded suspension and sport-tuned springs.
The steering on this sedan is really light and accurate, making for effortless maneuvering in smaller spaces, and a nice, weighty feel on the open road. Together with reassuring and well-calibrated brakes, this is really where the Q70 excels. Although some of the more performance oriented competitors in this segment may offer better handling, the Q70 compares really well and is a relaxed, competent and eager vehicle to drive.
Fuel economy is understandably low with the two large displacement engine options: the 3.7 Luxe in rear-wheel drive achieves 18/25/21 mpg on city/highway/combined cycles, whilst the all-wheel-drive variant fares slightly worse, with gas mileage of 18/24/20 mpg. On the more powerful 5.6-liter V8 engine, fuel consumption is worse - 16/24/19 mpg in the rear-wheel-drive configuration, with a further point dropped when equipped as all-wheel drive (16/23/18 mpg). Using premium unleaded fuel, the non-hybrid models will require some budgeting for, and with a 20-gallon gas tank capacity, the V6 and V8 variants have a range of approximately 420 miles and 380 miles respectively.
The interior is the source of both major drawbacks and strong points for the Q70. With a roomy and well-appointed cabin, even the base model feels high-end and luxurious - to a point. The Jaguar XF, in particular, outshines the Infiniti in terms of overall quality and comfort, but that doesn't mean the beautiful leather-appointed seats and attractive trims aren't satisfactory in the Q70. The top-end models are particularly impressive with semi-aniline leather with detailed stitching. Seating is soft and comfortable, yet offers good support. With ample space in the cabin for the likes of even four six-foot passengers, the generous legroom in the back is a strong suit for the Q70. The dashboard is also well designed to provide easy access to all controls and lends itself to an excellent driving position. Two full sets of LATCH restraints on the rear outboard seats are available, as well as an additional upper tether for the rear middle seat. An outdated infotainment system is the main complaint about the Q70's interior against more contemporary rivals.
As a luxury sedan, the Q70 offers seating for five, although, in reality, a fifth passenger with a larger build would be hard pressed to sit comfortably in the middle rear seat. Three children in the rear would fit without a hassle, and although installing car seats may be a little challenging due to the LATCH restraints being buried deep inside the seating, there is ample room for two child safety seats facing rearward. With a comfortable raised seating height, all passengers can slip in and out with ease and the seats themselves offer additional support under the thigh. For the front passenger and driver, ample head and shoulder room make for a sense of space and openness in the front, and with the dashboard ergonomically designed, provides an excellent driving position. Visibility is good on the standard-wheelbase range.
Graphite and Wheat-colored leather are standard interior options for seating and upholstery on the center armrest and are matched with Japanese Ash wood interior trim on the base models around the main console. Two additional leather options are available through purchasing of extra packages, namely Stone and Java leather. Furthermore, two trims can be equipped by means of packages, including White Ash silver-powdered wood, or the more modern aluminum to highlight the infotainment area.
In comparison to rivals in this segment, the Q70 offers average cargo space at 14.9 cubic feet. Without the option to extend this cargo space by folding the rear seats down, available trunk space is slightly smaller than that which the Jaguar XF offers. Loading into the rear is easy, however, with a wide and low trunk opening that auto-releases (no power close option is equipped). Inside the trunk, the wheel-wells do cause a narrowing deeper in, limiting the utility of available space. Two medium-sized suitcases will fit, however.
Interior small-item storage is rather poor, with only the center console storage under the armrest, a small ashtray, and two cupholders (which are, in the very least, cleverly positioned to not obstruct access to any equipment). Compared to other vehicles in this segment, it lacks the useful slim pockets and smaller areas for keys and phones.
Although the Essential Package is equipped at no additional cost (and as standard, which begs the question as to why it isn't simply included in the basic specs and requires separate allocation), the available features are somewhat limited in comparison to what rivals have to offer. Smart key access and push-button start, together with drive-mode selector are present, as is the Active Noise Control system to attempt mitigating road noise. On board, the Q70 offers dual-zone climate control, a rearview monitor, climate-controlled front seats with ten-way power adjustment and lumbar support. The steering wheel is also heated and front and rear sonar systems are in place. A surround view monitor complements the standard reverse camera on the 5.6 Luxe, while lane guidance is also featured as standard.
As the biggest complaint on the Q70, the infotainment system is sorely lacking in modern technology and user-friendly menus. Despite this, it is still a better option than the Infiniti dual-screen system on some of the other vehicles, which received extremely negative reviews. On this vehicle, an eight-inch touchscreen is equipped with voice recognition, Bluetooth and hands-free capabilities, as well as Satellite Radio and navigation. A single CD point is available in the dash, and a Bose ten-speaker sound system offers impressive sound on the base model. Overall the infotainment system proves to be frustrating to navigate and the voice recognition software is arduous to program, with specific nuances being missed when spoken. In this regard, almost all rivals offer a better infotainment experience - at the very least, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is needed, neither of which are available on this vehicle.
While no official recalls were made on any of the Q70 models for this year, some communication was provided from the manufacturer regarding leaks in the engine and cooling systems, as well as offering updates to the infotainment software. A range of warranties is available, which include a 48-month/60,000 full warranty, a 72-month/70,000 mile powertrain warranty, an 84-month/unlimited mile corrosion warranty as well as a 48-month/unlimited mile roadside assistance. Scoring four out of five (which translates to "better than most") on the JD Power reliability scale, the Q70 presents as a reliable vehicle in general.
Good scores are achieved overall from the entire range in terms of safety. The NHTSA scored the Q70 an overall score of five out of five stars, and the IIHS awarded the vehicle best available scores of Good for most metrics tested. Front crash prevention systems were noted as Superior.
Equipped as standard, the Q70 range offers auto-dimming LED headlights and front and rear active head restraints. An advanced airbag system is in place comprising six airbags (dual front, front side, and side curtain), and a rearview monitor is included across the range. Thanks to the Essential Package which is automatically installed, front and rear sonar and around view monitor (with moving object detection) is also included on the 5.6 Luxe. The Q70 also has vehicle dynamic control and traction control equipped. A full set of LATCH child seat restraints is also available in the rear.
The Q70 is a good car when it comes to safety and value-for-money as a comfortable luxury sedan. It is well-equipped as a base model and offers a spacious and well-designed cabin for passengers. Both engine options feed sufficient power through to the wheels, although the V8 engine undoubtedly proves to be the stronger and more sonorous choice. Ride and handling are impressive too, striking a balance between sportiness and luxury and feeling nimbler than many a heavyweight in this segment, while good braking performance inspires driver confidence.
Below-average cargo space isn't as big a problem in this segment, but the lack of split folding rear seats is a concern for the odd occasion the large trunk isn't big enough. The biggest issues arise from the outdated and awkward infotainment system that brings the Q70 down, as well as the sub-par gas mileage estimates from the large displacement, non-turbocharged engine offerings. Whilst not being a bad vehicle, buyers may benefit from waiting for an updated model next year, if one arrives, or shopping around for a better-equipped rival such as the Audi A6.
Priced between $50,300 and $67,600 the range offers many choices in terms of drivetrain and engine options. At the entry point is the 3.7 Luxe RWD which has an MSRP of $50,300, excluding a destination charge of $995, whilst the V8 engine trim, 5.6 Luxe is priced at $63,350, with the same destination fee needing to be added. Both gas-engine options can be configured with all-wheel-drive for an additional $2,550.
The Q70 range is available in two standard trims.
The base model is the 3.7 Luxe and is characterized by a 3.7-liter engine that produces 330 hp. This base trim features dual-zone climate control, rearview monitors, active noise control, 18-inch wheels, and leatherette seating.
The second model is the 5.6 Luxe which has a 420-hp V8 engine as its key differentiating factor. Included in this trim is the single eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, lane guidance and front and rear sonar. Upholstery is upgraded to full leather, and front seats are climate controlled as standard. An around-view monitor and ten-speaker sound system are equipped as part of the Essential Package which is standard equipment on the 5.6 Luxe.
The Essential Package is available on the base model 3.7 Luxe, and equipped as standard on the 5.6 Luxe at no additional cost comprising of an eight-inch touchscreen with voice-recognition and navigation. A Bose ten-speaker sound system and in-dash CD player are included, and seating is upgraded to full leather which is climate-controlled in the front. The steering wheel also becomes heated, and around-view monitor is added together with a front and rear sonar system.
A noteworthy package is the ProACTIVE bundle. It adds intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning and prevention, distance control, predictive forward collision warning, and forward emergency braking. Further driver aids that are included in this package are backup collision intervention, blind spot warning, and adaptive front lighting. This package can be equipped at a cost of $3,300, which is worth the money spent to flesh out the limited safety features on board.
An available Sport Package is priced at $4,900 and is centered on the aesthetics and handling experience of the vehicle. It changes the standard wheels to 20-inch five-spoke alloys and adds sport-tuned suspension with upgraded springs and shocks. Better braking is incorporated and paddle-shifters on the steering wheel are added. In the cabin, the front seats offer enhanced bolstering, and the exterior is adapted by means of a front fascia, tinted front grille and unique headlight housing. The audio system on board is also upgraded to feature 16 Bose Surround Sound speakers.
A Sensory package, which costs $3,900 to install, adds the same premium sound system from the Sport package, a power rear sunshade and semi-aniline leather seating with a quilted pattern. Interior trim can also be changed to white ash silver-powdered wood trim. A suede-like headliner and soft-touch upholstery on armrests, door inserts, and knee pads add to the luxurious upgrades in this bundle.
Finally, the Premium Select package incorporates dark chrome exterior trim and a darkened lower rear bumper. Further aesthetic changes include a rear decklid spoiler and 20-inch, 15-spoke dark finish wheels. An exclusive semi-aniline leather seating option is available, and contrast piping is integrated into the floor mats. This package adds $3,300 to the total cost.
This vehicle almost begs for the buyer to choose the 5.6 Luxe with the powerful V8 engine. To make the most of what is on offer, the top-of-the-range model is the best choice from this range as it is relatively well equipped in terms of comfort and luxury. Unless the buyer has a specific need for all-wheel drive, the rear-wheel drive is more than sufficient, offering a good, comfortable ride with adequate handling. The one package that is a necessity is the PRoACTIVE package, for the variety of driver aids and advanced safety features it adds to the vehicle. Buyers can forego the expensive Sport package, but the Sensory Package is a worthwhile addition.
A comparison with the powerhouse German sedan is almost inevitable as it can be seen as the quintessential sport and luxury sedan. Although priced much higher than Q70, the full house of safety features and onboard conveniences justify the price, especially when a smooth, supple and athletic drive is also on the table. The BMW is an all-rounder and scores higher in almost every regard. The BMW has a heavier body, a smaller engine and despite this has very similar gas mileage to the Q70. The Infiniti only has the upper hand in terms of a more spacious cabin and a more palatable total cost. We would still shell out more money for the performance-oriented BMW, however.
At the outset, the Jaguar boasts a much more appealing, contemporary design and offers an ultra-premium cabin. In contrast to the Q70, the Jaguar has the option to fold down the rear seats and expand the trunk volume, and with similar interior dimensions to the Q70, is equally as pleasant to be in. The Jaguar offers a far more composed drive, although the XF range is only available in four-cylinder and six-cylinder engine configurations that are overwhelmed by the V8 powertrain available in the Q70. Suffering from the same problematic infotainment system, the Jaguar is also lacking proper smartphone integration, and as both are in the same price range, it makes for a difficult choice between the two. Based on better build quality and improved driveability, the Jaguar comes out the winner, although the Q70 is close behind.