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When you hear someone mention the 2014 Infiniti QX60, you may not be sure where it fits into the Japanese luxury maker's lineup--or even whether it's a sedan or a utility vehicle. Truthfully, the QX60 is simply the new nameplate applied to what we knew last year as the Infiniti JX. Both cars, regardless of nomenclature, are the same new three-row crossover utility vehicle that basically adds more luxury, additional features, and a fresh set of sheetmetal to the underpinings of the more mass-market Nissan Pathfinder.
The QX60 (nee JX) has already blazed a new trail for Infiniti, as it's the first three-row vehicle sold by the brand that's not based on truck underpinnings. It's squarely in the center of the luxury crossover market, compared to the QX70 (nee FX), which is sportier and less capacious, and the larger, thirstier, truck-based QX80 (which, believe it or not, was previously the QX56). And this year's Infiniti QX60 goes head-to-head not only with the Lexus RX--which doesn't offer a third row--but also the Acura MDX and perhaps the Lincoln MKT.
Regardless of Infiniti's German-inspired scheme to name its sedans and coupes 'Q' and its utility vehicles 'QX', the looks of the QX60 (nee JX) haven't changed. The seven-seat vehicle is still relatively sleek, nicely detailed, and modern for what could have been a tall and blocky-looking box of a utility vehicle. But the long hood of the QX60 eliminates any hints of the dreaded minivan, and its roofline falls slightly and to give a softer look than more slab-sided models, such as the Acura MDX. Inside, the QX60 is clearly spacious and stylish, cabin trims that are rich but restrained, and practical luxury trumping all-out opulence.
What is new for 2014 is a second powertrain option. The QX60 Hybrid features Nissan's Direct Response Hybrid technology, which combines a 2.5-liter supercharged four-cylinder engine with a single 15-kilowatt electric motor, using clutches on either end of the electric motor to drive through Nissan's familiar continuously variable automatic transmission. Together, the two torque sources produce a total of 250 horsepower, and return an EPA Combined rating of 26 mpg. As for the rest of the lineup, it will continue with a 265-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 engine, also paired with a continuously variable transmission. Both models will be offered with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
With its compact lithium-ion battery pack tucked under the third-row seat, the hybrid gear in the QX60 doesn't interfere with either cargo space or the fold-flat seats--and the former JX received good marks for interior volume and flexibility. The QX60's third-row seat isn't an afterthought, and we like how the adaptable rear seat folds, tilts, and collapses in several combinations, giving good access to the third row even if there's a child safety seat latched into it—as no other three-row vehicle can, Infiniti says (except for the related Nissan Pathfinder). The first and second rows are comfortable for real-world adults, though the third row (no matter how easy it is to reach) is better used for children than more adults.
A full suite of safety systems will be offered on the QX60 and QX60 Hybrid, including a Backup Collision Intervention system that watches for approaching objects from the sides and rear when the vehicle is in reverse. It can detect objects in the vehicle's path up to about 5 mph, and will identify cross-traffic approaching from the rear at up to 15 mph. Lane Departure Warning is useful though a bit too sensitive, we think, while the Around View Monitor is an essential safety aid for busy parents.
The 2014 Infiniti QX60 measures up well with the previous JX in terms of pricing and features. It comes with essentially the same standard equipment--a glass moonroof and rearview monitor included. Several large packages bring those active-safety features or infotainment upgrades as options. The QX60 Hybrid, by the way, sells for about $3,000 more than the standard QX60.