2016 Infiniti QX60 Review
Christian Wardlaw | Jun 16, 2016
IntroductionTraditionally, Infiniti has branded itself as a luxury sport alternative to German brands like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. However, when consumers began adopting 7-passenger, 3-row crossover SUVs in significant numbers, the company needed a quick fix to deliver what people wanted.
Enter the 2013 Infiniti JX35, which became the QX60 for the 2014 model year when Infiniti rebadged all of its models. Based on the same platform and using the same powertrain as the Nissan Pathfinder, the QX60 quickly became one of the best-selling Infiniti models. However, unlike other Infiniti models, it also came with front-wheel drive rather than rear-wheel drive, a relatively modest V-6 engine, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). In other words, it was anything but sporty.
For 2016, Infiniti has given the QX60 a mild update, revising the styling, refining the interior, installing new driver-assistance technologies, enhancing the infotainment system, and retuning the steering and suspension.
For this review, our expert evaluated a QX60 3.5 with all-wheel drive (AWD) and every option package. The price came to $58,845, including the $995 destination charge.
What Owners SayBefore we discuss the results of our evaluation of the new 2016 QX60, it is helpful to understand who bought the previous version of this SUV and what they liked most and least about it.
In the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study,SM the QX60 ranked 11th among 15 midsize premium SUVs. Compared with the segment average, more QX60 buyers are women (48% vs. 40%), they are younger (51 years vs. 57), and they enjoy greater median household incomes ($194,853 vs. $174,109). Nearly half identify themselves as members of Gen X (born 1965-1976) or Gen Y (1977-1994) (48% vs. 33%).
J.D. Power research also shows that Infiniti QX60 buyers are less concerned about performance and are more concerned about fuel economy. According to J.D. Power psychographic data, 35% identify themselves as a performance buyer, compared with 41% for the segment. Also, those citing fuel economy as a first consideration when choosing a vehicle amounted to 52% of QX60 buyers, compared with 46% for the midsize premium SUV segment.
Buyers of the QX60 also indicate that their favorite things about Infiniti's midsize SUV are (in descending order) driving dynamics, exterior styling, interior design, seats, and visibility and safety. Their least favorite things (in descending order, lowest-rated first) include fuel economy, infotainment system, climate control system, engine/transmission, and storage and space.
What Our Expert SaysIn the sections that follow, our expert provides his own assessment of how the new 2016 QX60 performs in each of the 10 categories that comprise the 2015 U.S. APEAL Study.
ExteriorThough it is essentially a Nissan Pathfinder beneath the surface, the Infiniti QX60 has a distinctive look all its own, conveying a greater degree of style and sophistication.
For 2016, the QX60's appearance is sharpened, trading visual bloat for toned aggressiveness. The test vehicle had the optional 20-in. aluminum wheels, which help to fill the QX60's flared fenders, and it wore a new shade of paint called Hagane Blue.
InteriorYou'll need to conduct a thorough investigation of the QX60's cabin to find evidence of inexpensive materials. While some parts are shared with the Pathfinder, they exhibit a high degree of quality.
Infiniti has upgraded the QX60's interior with new detailing intended to give the SUV a more upscale look and feel. With the top option package, which adds maple wood trim and special leather seat quilting, the QX60 is undeniably luxurious. The company has also added acoustic side glass to ensure a quieter ride.
SeatsThe farther back in the QX60 to which a passenger is relegated, the less comfortable they will be. The front seats are excellent, wrapped in soft leather and, in the test vehicle, equipped with heating and ventilation.
Second-row occupants enjoy a sliding seat that helps make more room for everyone, but the bottom cushion is rather flat and foot space underneath the front seats is tight.
Adults will be unhappy in the QX60's third-row seat, even if people sitting in the second-row are willing to slide forward to increase legroom. The cushion is flat and lacks support, and while Infiniti supplies small carve-outs for feet to tuck under the second-row seat, this area is best used for transporting children. Just keep in mind that the safest place for kids to ride is in the second-row seat.
Climate Control SystemInfiniti divides the QX60's center control panel into three zones, capped by the infotainment screen. The upper zone includes the hazard flashers and a row of buttons exclusively dedicated to the climate control system.
Commonly accessed temperature adjustments are made on either side of the middle zone collection of infotainment system controls. At first, this is a confusing arrangement, but owners acclimate over time. Temperature control knobs would, however, be an improvement over the buttons that Infiniti supplies.
Seat heating and ventilation controls reside on the center console, just forward of the storage bin and armrest. Twist the knobs to activate heating or cooling for the driver and front passenger seats. Chrome trim and weak indicator lights can make it difficult to determine whether or not the functions have been activated.
Infotainment SystemRefreshingly, the QX60's climate and stereo controls are effectively divorced from the infotainment system's main screen, and they use numerous knobs and well-marked buttons to make adjustments to temperature, volume, and radio station tuning.
The driver can alter the environment, adjust audio levels, and find something new to listen to without looking away from the road. The QX60 even supplies radio station preset buttons, precluding the necessity to use the screen for this function.
In turn, this setup allows the driver to keep the frequently referenced navigation map on the display screen for the majority of driving time. Though the QX60 employs a touch screen, it does not support swipe, scroll, or pinch-to-zoom capacitive-touch functionality. Instead, the driver uses the main menu buttons on the dashboard, and then uses the center control knob to navigate menu selections on the screen. This knob is also used for zooming in and out on the navigation map.
Dated map graphics and limited voice-recognition capability hint at the QX60's lack of competitiveness in terms of its infotainment technology. While it does offer Infiniti Connection subscription services, which provides access to several important safety-related features, it does not supply increasingly common attributes such as smartphone-projection technology or Wi-Fi connectivity.
Storage and SpaceNooks and crannies are hard to come by in the Infiniti QX60. While the glove box is enormous and the center console storage bin supplies adequate size, there are few places within the cabin for stashing smaller items or securing smartphones.
Behind the third-row seat, a large covered bin provides storage beneath the cargo floor. This area, combined with the cramped space behind the seat, measures 15.8 cu. ft. when measured to the ceiling.
Fold the third-row seat to create a generous cargo area measuring 40.8 cu. ft. In terms of size and shape, the QX60 accommodates strollers loaded wheels first, easily handles a full-size suitcase for every member of a family of five, and leaves extra room for duffel bags and smaller items.
When maximum cargo capacity is necessary, the second-row seat folds down to supply 76.5 cu. ft. of room.
Visibility and SafetyThanks to large side mirrors and expansive glass, it is easy to see out of the Infiniti QX60. Plus, this crossover SUV is available with the automaker's Around View 360-degree monitoring system with moving-object detection and front and rear park- assist sensors. Reversing camera and Around View camera displays are shown on the infotainment screen, but the latter distorts reality to the point that usefulness is questionable.
Additional driving-assistance and collision-avoidance technologies are in plentiful supply in the QX60, offered in the Driver Assistance and Deluxe Technology option packages. Owners can program their sensitivity levels; at "normal" settings they are not shy about intervening when they determine that a driver is inattentive. During testing, the Backup Collision Intervention system stopped the QX60 for no discernable reason while reversing from a suburban driveway.
Should a collision occur, the Infiniti QX60 earns top crash-test ratings from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) federal government and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Engine/TransmissionDelivering 265 horsepower, the QX60's 3.5-liter V-6 engine provides smooth and refined power. A CVT makes best use of engine output and is programmed with stepped ratios that mimic the sound and feel of a traditional automatic transmission.
Drivers can choose between eco, standard, and sport driving modes. A Snow mode is also available, and an optional AWD system can transfer up to half of the engine's power to the rear wheels as driving conditions warrant.
Engage the Sport driving mode and powertrain response quickens, making the QX60 feel more energetic. Choose the Eco mode and the SUV's Eco Pedal feature engages, resisting pressure on the accelerator pedal in order to encourage a more efficient driving style. It can be easily overridden when necessary by simply pushing harder on the accelerator.
Fuel EconomyBased on this evaluation, it is not surprising that QX60 owners are dissatisfied with their vehicle's fuel economy. The EPA estimates that the QX60 3.5 AWD will return 22 mpg in combined driving. The test vehicle got 19.8 mpg on the official test loop.
After a week and 500 miles covered at an average rate of 34 mph, the fuel economy number had dropped to 19.3 mpg, a figure just higher than the EPA's city rating of 19 mpg. Official estimates claim the SUV will get 26 mpg on the highway.
Driving DynamicsInfiniti revised the QX60's suspension and steering for 2016, and if the result doesn't necessarily make the SUV more engaging to drive, it certainly is more enjoyable than before.
With the changes, Infiniti wanted the QX60 to deliver smoother ride quality, reduced body motion, improved handling, enhanced steering response and feedback, and a quieter interior. While the net effect of the improvements is subtle, the company has succeeded in its quest. Buyers choosing an upscale SUV primarily to obtain a luxurious driving character will find the new QX60 more satisfying than the previous model.
At the same time, however, buyers seeking a more engaging vehicle to drive are unlikely to find what they're looking for in this Infiniti.
Final ImpressionsWith the refreshed 2016 QX60, Infiniti spent time and money refining the things people already liked about the QX60, but did not address the things people disliked.
Restating fuel economy estimates to reset customer expectations would be a good way to improve the QX60's overall appeal rating, as would the introduction of a more modern and capable infotainment system.
At the same time, Infiniti has doubled-down on those aspects of the QX60 that are most appealing to this SUV's buyers. On the list of their five favorite characteristics, only the QX60's seats remain the same for 2016, and they were pretty good to start with.
While the QX60 might not square with the rest of Infiniti's performance-oriented lineup, it is nevertheless one of the few 7-passenger luxury crossovers on the market, and has proven its appeal in several of the areas that are typically important to buyers of upscale vehicles.
Nissan North America supplied the vehicle used for this 2016 Infiniti QX60 review.
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