Infiniti gave its most popular QX60 a comprehensive refresh last year, so it’s only reasonable to think this 2017 model would carry over completely unchanged. Not so fast. Rather than sit back and relax, Nissan’s luxury brand has updated this seven-passenger mid-size luxury SUV’s powertrain while also adding new features inside and out.
The large three-row crossover utility has boasted a 3.5-liter V6 engine since it debuted as the JX35 back in 2012, and very few customers or critics have complained about its strong performance, reasonable fuel economy, and silky smooth operation. In fact, Infiniti’s VQ series engine (also used in Nissan products) is one of the most celebrated of its type, having made the Wards 10 Best Engines list eight years in a row; an award it garnered once again last year, with highlights being performance, refinement, quietness, and fuel-efficiency thanks to features like continuously variable valve timing and microfinished camshafts, and this even before adding direct injection and new friction reducing cylinder liners for 2017. If this new 3.5-liter V6 doesn’t make the Wards 10 Best list again I’ll be surprised, especially when factoring in its performance gains. Output is now up 30 horsepower from 265 to 295, while torque jumps 22 lb-ft from 248 to 270.
That’s a noticeable difference off the line, the new QX60 really feeling energetic when pushed, while its continuously variable transmission is very responsive compared to most CVTs, with more positive engagement and crisper shifts. Infiniti provides seven pseudo gears that respond similarly to a conventional automatic gearbox, and while manual mode is provided via the shift lever I only used it for testing purposes, the transmission performing flawlessly all on its own. Like the QX60’s engine the key word for its CVT is smooth, and in a seven-passenger family hauler that’s what most want.
Of course, CVTs are chosen for their efficiency first and foremost, and to this end the updated QX60 does very well considering its added power. In fact, the 2017 model is equal to the outgoing version at 20 mpg in the city, 27 on the highway and 22 combined with FWD, or 19 mpg city, 26 highway and 22 combined with AWD. While these numbers are impressive, Infiniti goes a number of steps better with its QX60 Hybrid that achieves a claimed 25 mpg city, 27 highway and 26 combined via a 2.5-liter supercharged four-cylinder, 15-kW electric motor, and compact lithium-ion battery combination, resulting in 250 net horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque, albeit not without a significant price bump to $52,100 plus freight and dealer fees. While intriguing, that’s a different review for another time.
As part of last year’s update, Infiniti retuned the QX60’s suspension for enhanced performance, and the result was much better road-holding and more confidence-inspiring feel through the corners, while its ride quality remained thoroughly comfortable. Highway driving improved too, with a tauter, more planted presence, the revised SUV delivering a new level of composure at high speed. To optimize the drivetrain Infiniti includes a standard Drive Mode Selector with Sport and Eco modes that ups performance or alternatively gets more from a tank of regular unleaded (pricier premium is not required), while Snow mode makes for safer takeoff in slippery conditions.
My tester’s 235/55R20 H-rated all-seasons didn’t hamper adhesion to the road either, these and their gorgeous machine-finished 15-spoke alloys with gray painted pockets available separately for $1,000 or as part of the as-tested $7,300 Deluxe Technology Package upgrade that also includes a new motion-sensing hands-free liftgate, auto high beams, auto-dimming side mirrors, maple hardwood inlays on the dash, console and doors, special Advanced Climate Control with auto-recirculation, a plasmacluster air purifier and grape polyphenol filter, a fabulous sounding 15-speaker Bose surround sound audio system with digital 5.1-channel decoding, unique hourglass-quilted perforated leather upholstery, three-way climate-controlled front seats, two-way heatable second-row outboard seats, an ultra-large panoramic second- and third-row moonroof with a powered rear sunshade, a power-folding third row, front and rear parking sensors, dynamic cruise control with full-speed range (including stop and go assist), automated Distance Control Assist that uses the Eco Pedal to push back on your right foot when closing in on a vehicle ahead, Predictive Forward Collision Warning with emergency autonomous braking and pedestrian detection, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Blind Spot Warning, Blind Spot Intervention, Backup Collision Intervention that provides emergency autonomous braking when reversing, front seat pre-crash seatbelts, the just noted Eco Pedal that’s normally used for reminding overzealous drivers to save fuel by applying the throttle gently (unfortunately it can only be turned off when also deactivating Eco mode), and Active Trace Control that improves cornering feel by constantly modulating vehicle braking and engine torque, and more.
Now that we’re talking features, Infiniti doesn’t hold back when it comes to comfort, convenience or safety, with even the very well priced $43,100 base QX60 getting auto on/off HID headlights, LED DRLs, LED taillights, pushbutton ignition, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, bright and clear Fine Vision electroluminescent primary gauges with Infiniti’s big new color TFT Intelligent-View multi-information display at center, power-folding heatable side mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, leather upholstery, an eight-way powered driver’s seat and a six-way powered front-passenger’s seat, three-way heatable front seats, tri-zone auto HVAC with second-row passenger controls, a large full-color Infiniti InTouch infotainment display with colorful iPhone-style buttons, a rearview camera, SMS and email functionality, Bluetooth phone connectivity with streaming audio, three USB charging ports, a front powered moonroof, a powered liftgate, and more.
By the way, adding the aforementioned Deluxe Technology Package meant the prerequisite $1,800 Premium Package was also included, which added roof rails, a stainless steel bumper protector, remote start, an enhanced Intelligent Key system, a powered tilt and telescopic steering column, memory for both front seats as well as the steering wheel and side mirrors, reverse tilt-down for the side mirrors, a heatable steering wheel, two-way powered lumbar for the driver’s seat, driver’s entry and exit assist for the seat and steering wheel, and a 13-speaker Bose audio system to improve sound quality, while those not upgrading to the fancier $2,900 Premium Plus Package get accurate navigation with mapping, lane guidance, and 3D building graphics, a particularly good Around-View parking camera featuring a split screen with both rearward and bird’s-eye views, voice recognition, satellite radio with real-time traffic and travel info, rain-sensing wipers, and aluminum treadplates.
Of note, the move up to the Deluxe Technology Package means the $1,850 Drivers Assistance Package isn’t available, but everything offered is included so it’s a moot point, while additional options groups include the $2,150 Theater Package that adds a new larger rear entertainment system with dual 8.0-inch monitors, a remote, two wireless headphone sets, HDMI and USB ports, plus a 120-volt household style power outlet, and lastly a $450 Wi-Fi upgrade that turns the QX60 into a rolling hotspot.
Many of the advanced active safety features mentioned earlier help the 2017 QX60 achieve a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS thanks to best possible “Good” scores for small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, plus head restraints and seats tests, while all QX60 trims get a best possible five-star crash test rating from the NHTSA.
What’s more, the front crash prevention features noted a moment ago earn the QX60 a “Superior” rating for crash avoidance and mitigation, with the only negatives holding it back from receiving best possible Top Safety Pick Plus recognition being a “Moderate” rating for the ease of use of its child seat anchors (LATCH), and a surprising “Poor” score for its headlights. On this last note, others in the class now come with standard or optional full LED headlights featuring active cornering, which help to achieve the highest IIHS recommendation.
I’m not sure whether the IIHS was referring to second- or third-row child seat anchors in its other critique, but to be fair to Infiniti the QX60’s multi-functional second-row seats are ridiculously easy to operate and let you keep a child seat in place while providing easy access to the third row. Additionally, they slide back and forth in order to make more third-row leg and foot space.
To sample what life would be like in the rearmost seats, I pulled the second row forward enough to leave ample room for my five-foot-eight frame after the driver’s seat was positioned likewise, which left about three inches ahead of my knees and enough space for feet in the third row, although my knees were pushed fairly high to accommodate, while I had about an inch and a half remaining above my head. In other words the third row should be fine for kids, growing teens, and smaller to mid-size adults when needed. Also positive, the panoramic sunroof stretches right into the rear portion of the SUV, allowing third row passengers more of an open, airy experience than the claustrophobic surroundings found in the very back of some rivals. Infiniti also provides third-row reading lights, cupholders, side armrests, and even a powered USB, while the rearmost seats were quite comfortable too, as was the case in all the QX60’s seating positions.
The powered liftgate opens up to a sizable 15.8 cubic-foot luggage hold behind the final row, which was made even more functional due to a hidden compartment under the load floor that also houses the removable Bose subwoofer. Up to 40.8 cubic feet of cargo space can be created by lowering the 50/50-split third row via powered switches located on each cargo wall, whereas the second-row seatbacks fold completely flat via manual levers on their sides, allowing an expansive 76.5 cubic feet of volume.
The only cargo limitation is a smaller rear opening than some competitors, its corners rounded and large powered door mechanism robbing loading space and therefore limiting what you may want to carry. Something large like a love seat might not fit in without being dismantled, but for most peoples’ active lifestyles the QX60’s load carrying capability should be more than adequate. Of note, the QX60 Hybrid’s battery is mounted under the floor of the third row so it loses nothing in cargo capacity, and while we’re on the subject of hauling, the conventionally powered QX60 can manage up to 5,000 lbs of trailering weight.
While the QX60 is mostly good I have one more beef, a powered steering column that doesn’t give me quite enough reach for optimal comfort and control. This is an issue I’ve only had with a few Japanese luxury models, and even so it shouldn’t be a problem for the majority of people. I happen to have long legs and a shorter torso, so I need to push my seat farther back than most five-foot-eight drivers, and then extend the steering column as far rearward as possible so as to rest my wrist over the top of the wheel (the way I was taught for maximizing control), but only my fingertips reach when doing so with the QX60. A few more inches of telescoping extension would be ideal, but so far this SUV comes up short. It’s certainly something to try out before you buy.
Rather than leave on a sour note, I’ve saved the best to the last. Since last year’s update the QX60’s interior has become a real feast for luxury-starved eyes, with highlights including the premium SUV segment’s usual cloth-covered roof pillars and soft-touch surface treatments, the latter including much of instrument panel and even the glove box lid. These details are enhanced by a premium contrast-stitched leather dash top, lower console sides, and armrests, complemented by rich looking quilted, perforated leather upholstery with the same contrast stitching as well as cream-colored piping around the edges of each seat. The high-gloss dark maple hardwood noted earlier is beautifully finished and therefore absolutely stunning next to the QX60’s tastefully applied satin aluminum trim, the entire cabin a breathtaking array of upscale materials in a classic, traditional style.
In other words, for a very reasonable price you can enjoy a superbly finished, impressively equipped, enjoyable driving, highly efficient, and unquestionably fashionable seven-passenger luxury SUV, all of which has made it a very popular option in its mid-size premium category. I can’t help but recommend the new 2017 Infiniti QX60.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, American Auto Press Copyright: American Auto Press