by Roger Biermann
Premium manufacturers are getting into the full swing of the hybrid thing, electrifying every possible model they can get their hands on. Full size SUVs are no different and perhaps stand to benefit the most from electrification by reducing what would otherwise be very poor fuel economy. The Infiniti QX60 is just one of a few hybrid SUVs, rivaling the BMW X5 PHEV and the Volvo XC90 T8. But unlike those, the QX60 Hybrid isn’t a plug-in – featuring only a mild hybrid system. It’s important to note that for 2018, no hybrid model will be offered, so if you want one, 2017 is your last chance.
The QX60 hybrid doesn’t forego its third row of seats with the introduction of electric assistance – and like most in class, third row seating still remains cramped and second rate compared to the Buick Enclave. Cargo capacity remains unchanged from the standard combustion model at 16 cubic feet with all 7 seats in place, swelling to 40.8 cubes with the rear seats stowed away. The second row of seats features a 60/40 split and can fold nearly flat, as well as slide and recline.
Underpinned by the Nissan Pathfinder, much of the materials in the cabin are cheap and taken straight from the Nissan parts bin. The infotainment system is at least intuitive and easy to use, though there are far too many buttons cluttering the dash. Hard plastics with rough edges are nigh on everywhere and some trim comes straight from the Pathfinder – though the budget price justifies some of the cheapness.
Where some plug-in hybrids utilize their weight to settle the ride quality, the QX60’s relatively minimal weight penance as a hybrid doesn’t help things much. The suspension is soft and body roll is pronounced. The soft ride bounces over bumps in the road, and the damping fails to adequately filter out ripples in the road surface.
Though a suitably large SUV, the QX60 Hybrid is easy to wield and maneuver – due largely to the overly lightweight steering. Just one finger is all it takes to direct the QX60 Hybrid – great in a parking lot, but less so on the open road where feedback is minimal due to over-assistance from the electric power steering motor. Twisting roads also pose a problem as the light responses feel unnatural and the steering doesn’t load up adequately.
The mild hybrid system in the QX60 Hybrid utilizes a downsized engine with a supercharger, working in tandem with a low capacity battery and low output electric motor. The 2.5-liter supercharged Atkinson cycle engine develops 230 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque, supplemented by a 20hp, 29 lb-ft electric motor and a 0.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Combined outputs rest at 250hp and 243 lb-ft, and fuel economy gets a boost to an EPA rated 25/27mpg for the city and highway respectively. The QX60 Hybrid utilizes a continuously variable transmission, and can be paired with front- or all-wheel drive.
Interior quality may be lacking, but that doesn’t mean the QX60 Hybrid can’t be well equipped and extremely well optioned. 8-inch rear entertainment screens are available, while tri-zone climate, a rear-view camera, and a moonroof are standard. Navigation is an optional extra, but features the additional benefit of lane guidance. The IIHS awarded the QX60 as a Top Safety Pick for 2017, while the NHTSA awarded a best possible 5 stars. Safety features include optional forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, and standard ABS with EBD.
Cheap material qualities may dissuade potential buyers, but a cheap entrance to the 7 seat SUV segment and a nominal increase in fuel economy are traits that may sway potential buyers. However rivals are all moving to plug-in setups with an all-electric range – so it’s no wonder the QX60 Hybrid is being relegated to fossil status.