by Roger Biermann
7 seats and a raised ride height don’t mean you have to compromise and get a ladder-frame truck-based behemoth. There are plenty crossover based 7-seaters just ripe for the picking, and the Infiniti QX60 is one of them. Renamed in 2014; maiden name JX35; the Infiniti QX60 is based on the same platform as the Nissan Murano, with this platform also underpinning the new Pathfinder. Against competent rivals like the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 though, the premium arm of Nissan doesn’t have it easy in this segment.
The interior of the QX60 is very spacious for both front and 2nd row passengers. But like almost everyone in class, 3rd row passengers find accommodation a bit cramped compared to the Buick Enclave which leads in this regard. The 2nd row features a 60/40 split, as well as reclining, sliding, and nearly flat folding functionality. Cargo volume is decent, at 16 cubic feet with 7 seats in place. The 3rd row can be folded flat to increase cargo volume to 40.8 cubic feet.
Interior material quality is lacking – pinching more from the Nissan parts bin than just a platform. Hard plastics adorn the dash and door panels don’t seem correctly cut. Trim pieces are often straight from the Pathfinder. But it is one of the cheapest options in segment – justifying that you get what you pay for ultimately. It redeems itself somewhat with an easy to use entertainment system, even though it seems to have far too many buttons.
Last year, Infiniti made minor updates to the QX60’s suspension. Ride quality has improved with the tweaks, as have available levels of grip. But the QX60 is definitely a case of comfort taking priority over prowess, with a super-soft ride that soaks everything up into itself with little reaching the cabin. Body roll is incredibly pronounced, with yacht-like cornering ability not doing much to support the ‘sport’ in Sports Utility Vehicle. Over rougher, more chopped up roads, the dampers can become a little overwhelmed, at times becoming a little shaky. The steering is incredibly light – one finger operation light – which while great for navigating tight parking lots, makes it less inspiring on a curvy road or a crowded freeway. It also doesn’t give much feedback and in slippery conditions it’s tough to feel when the front wheels are losing grip. Less electronic assistance and more feel and weight wouldn’t go amiss.
The standard engine option is a new 3.5-liter V6 with 295 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque – up 30hp and 22 lb-ft from the pre-2017 engine. Power goes to the front wheels as standard, though AWD can be optioned, through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Though smooth and relatively efficient, the CVT tends to drone and doesn’t offer anything more than a conventional auto ‘box. Infiniti also offer a hybrid drivetrain, with a 2.5-liter supercharged 4-cylinder offering 230hp and 243 lb-ft supported by a 20hp electric motor. Economy ratings are 20/27 and 25/27 city/highway respectively for FWD V6 and hybrid variants.
While the interior may be cheap, there’s plenty to option. 8-inch rear screens can be optioned for 2nd row passengers, while tri-zone climate and a moonroof are standard, as is a rear-view camera. The powered tailgate offers hands-free access and a low load sill. Navigation is optional, but comes with lane guidance. The QX60 scored 5 stars from the NHTSA and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2017, with safety gear including optional forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, standard ABS with EBD, and blind spot and lane departure warning.
A budget price gets you budget interior quality, but the options and features rival vastly more expensive competitors. It’s worth the compromise if you care little for badge-snobbery and prioritize comfort overall. Unless you live in a snow-prone area, avoid the extra cost of AWD and stick with a FWD V6 model.