2015 INFINITI QX60 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

John Voelcker John Voelcker Senior Editor
August 21, 2014

The 2015 Infiniti QX60 has a rich look and excellent interior space, even if its powertrain and handling aren't so energizing.

It's taken a couple of years, but we're finally coming to grips with Infiniti's Q-based naming system. What once (for just one brief introductory model year) was known as the JX is now the QX60. That decodes to a mid-size, three-row crossover utility with available all-wheel drive. The QX60 shares its underpinnings with the Nissan Pathfinder, and like its less-luxurious counterpart offers a hybrid version.

The QX60 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 also stands out as the only front-wheel-drive-based offering in Infiniti's current lineup. 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). The 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.

While the name has been in some flux, the QX60's looks haven't changed. The seven-seat vehicle is 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 to give a softer look than more slab-sided models, such as the Acura MDX. Inside, the QX60 is spacious and stylish, cabin trims that are rich but restrained, with practical luxury trumping all-out opulence.

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The base QX50, called QX60 3.5 because of its engine's size, uses a 265-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 engine paired with a continuously variable transmission. Along with its name change last year, the QX60 gained a second powertrain option, a hybrid. Called, very simply, the QX60 Hybrid, it 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. Both models are 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--both it and the nonhybrid QX60 receive good marks for interior volume and flexibility. The QX60's third-row seat isn't an afterthought, and we like how the adaptable second-row 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 is offered on the QX60 3.5 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, and once it does will apply the brakes for the driver. 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, providing a stitched-together overhead view of what surrounds the vehicle.

The 2015 Infiniti QX60 comes with a healthy list of standard equipment--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.

Changes for 2015 include the addition of several new colors--Hermosa Blue, Majestic White, and Graphite Shadow--which displace three similar hues, a newly available high-contrast Wheat interior decor, and enhanced shift logic for when the continuously variable transmission is impersonating a conventional automatic.

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2015 INFINITI QX60

Styling

The QX60 has an interestingly jagged roofline, and a sophisticated interior.

The 2015 Infiniti QX60 represents a successful exercise in adapting sedan styling cues to a large crossover vehicle. The front leads with a large, puckered chrome grille, the fenders swell gently into the body side, and the rear pillar has Infiniti's signature crescent shape supporting a smoothly dropping roofline.

Against competitors like the slab-sided and shorter Acura MDX, the Infiniti QX60 comes off surprisingly well--and it's not until you get close to it, or see it next to another car, that you realize just how large this crossover is. And since many choose the three-row crossover as a minivan-avoidance measure, it's important to note that the QX60 avoids looking like that oft-dreaded people-carrier by incorporating a long hood.

Inside, even base QX60 models convey a luxurious air. The dashboard, door panels, and seats are all rich but restrained--though the vehicle is designed to accommodate family needs--this will be a working vehicle--rather than over-the-top opulence. Particularly appealing are the array of two-tone interior treatments that keep the large interior light and subtly underscore the luxury positioning. If we had one complaint about the interior, it's that it isn't sufficiently differentiated from what you find in the Nissan Pathfinder, the QX60's platform mate. This could be seen as a compliment to the Nissan instead of a slight to the Infiniti, but it turns out to be a little of both.

An all-black interior is available, but we suspect chocolate brown and beige will be more popular. Accent trim is wood or matte silver metal. Many parents will likely go for the two-tone as a more pleasant place to spend considerable time ferrying children. Our sole quibble with the interior styling is the analog clock, which verges on becoming as cliched as glossy piano-black trim.

For 2015, Infiniti has added several new colors--Hermosa Blue, Majestic White, and Graphite Shadow--which displace three similar hues, as well as an available high-contrast Wheat interior decor.

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2015 INFINITI QX60

Performance

The CVT saps the life out of the QX60's V-6, and the Hybrid's real-world benefits aren't so easy to pick out.

The 2015 Infiniti QX60 is meant to haul up to seven people and their stuff in comfort and, when equipped with all-wheel drive, through snowstorms. It's a much nicer vehicle to drive than Infiniti's huge, truck-based QX80, but like most crossovers of this size and no thanks to the standard continuously-variable transmission (CVT), it's just not a driver's car.

The QX60 offers a choice of two powertrains. The standard engine, fitted to the QX60 3.5, is a 3.5-liter V-6 that produces 265 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with the latest iteration of Nissan's CVT. This engine provides adequate but not very enthusiastic performance. The 3.5 offers a choice of four different drive modes: Eco, Standard, Sport, and Snow. Eco is best avoided unless you're on long, flat stretches of road, as we find the pedal feel annoying--it pushes back if you try to accelerate too hard. The Sport mode remaps the CVT so its behavior mimics that of a conventional six-speed automatic--at the cost of slightly higher fuel consumption--with defined shift points and a linear relationship between engine speed and road speed. It's nice, but if used all the time would somewhat negate the benefits of a CVT, namely using less fuel. It's best to stick with Standard, unless you're in a slick situation and want to reduce throttle sensitivity and lower the initial torque multiplication of the transmission from a start, which Snow mode helps to do.

The step-up powertrain is a hybrid. The QX60 Hybrid, as it's called, uses a supercharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a single 15-kilowatt electric motor, with clutches on either side of the motor, driving through an adapted version of the same CVT. The engine and motor together produce a maximum of about 250 horsepower. Unlike hybrids from Toyota or Ford, the QX60 Hybrid can't move away from stops using only electric power. Instead, it's a mild hybrid system that adds supplemental torque when more power is needed, restarts the engine after stops, and recharges a small lithium-ion battery pack under regenerative braking. The hybrid system boosts gas mileage from either 20 or 21 mpg combined for the V-6 version to 26 mpg combined with either drive configuration.

Both powertrains can be ordered with the standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. In AWD QX60 models, the system prioritizes drive to the front wheels until it senses wheel slip or other traction problems--when it can shift up to half the torque to the rear wheels. In other words, the QX60 is not equipped for off-road rock climbing, but it will be a very practical vehicle for muddy horse paddocks and snowy weather.

Roadholding is adequate, though the electric power steering doesn't transmit much road feel, and the vehicle's length becomes most apparent when trying to place the QX60 in narrower streets or, if absolutely necessary, parallel parking it. But that really doesn't matter; it's a big, capacious crossover and that's why people buy it. In the end, the QX60 performs fine for its mission as family transport.

The Infiniti QX60 is mostly quiet inside, partly because the CVT keeps engine speeds low for fuel efficiency. When it's asked for full power, the engine gets somewhat louder, but Infiniti has added the expected swathes of luxury noise insulation, so it never gets particularly unpleasant. The QX60 V-6 is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds with the accessory trailer hitch fitted (for a fairly reasonable $370)--though Infiniti expects only a fifth of owners will ever tow anything.

For 2015, Infiniti says it has improved the D-step shift program, which is when the CVT does its best impression of a torque-converter automatic.

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2015 INFINITI QX60

Comfort & Quality

The QX60 has a clever second-row seat that adapts to child car seats particularly well; its adult seats could use more support.

As ostensibly a people-hauler, the QX60 is designed for easy entry and comfort inside. It achieves those goals, with some special features to try to make it stand apart from the competition.

The front seats are comfortable but not particularly heavy on bolstering. There is adequate room for real-world adults in the second row. The second-row bench can slide 5.5 inches forward or back, letting all three rows of occupants negotiate the best blend of legroom and comfort. With the second row fully to the rear, there's class-leading legroom for second-row passengers. We did note that if you choose the optional seat-cooling feature for the two front seats, the space underneath them is entirely filled with the attendant hardware--meaning there's no room left for the second-row passengers' feet.

Climbing into the third row is made easier by a 14-inch space between the door opening and the second-row seat back when it's folded forward. The second-row seat bottom cushion also tilts up when folded. Compared to the competition, it really is easier to clamber in and out--though like all third rows, it's best suited to kids and agile teenagers. Like many third rows, the cushion is low to the floor and older passengers may find the knees-up riding position uncomfortable for anything but the shortest of trips.

Infiniti is also very proud of a special ability of the QX60's second row, which is shared only by its platform mate, the Nissan Pathfinder. The second-row seat can be folded forward to give access to the third row even if a child-safety seat remains strapped into it via Isofix anchors. Parents and grandparents who have struggled to fit a child safety seat will understand just how valuable that feature is.

The back of the second seat is split 60/40, and even the third row is split 50/50. The QX60 provides competitive total cargo room with both rows folded down, at 76.5 cubic feet. There's 15.8 cubic feet of space behind the third row, as much as a decent-sized compact sedan's trunk. The space is the same in both the V-6 and hybrid versions, since the hybrid is designed in such a way that none of the extra equipment, like batteries, encroaches on the passenger compartment. It's a nice touch, and one that is becoming more commonplace on hybrids, but still worth noting.

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2015 INFINITI QX60

Safety

The QX60 hasn't been subject to all crash tests, but it does have some of the latest safety technology.

The QX60 has fared very well in those that it has been subjected to. Several advanced safety features also help make its case for preferred family transport.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2015 Infiniti QX60 an overall rating of five stars, its highest level. It received five stars for side-crash safety, and four stars each in frontal-crash and rollover tests.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) run the QX60 through all of its crash tests, and it's earned the top 'good' rating in every single one of them.

For a vehicle this large, the rear-quarter vision in an Infiniti QX60 is pretty good--provided you're not using the third row. Its headrests are thankfully designed to fold down, which opens up vision through the rear window, but when they're raised, there's not a lot of daylight left in the rear. Unfortunately, folding down those headrests means pulling a pair of tabs after you've walked around to open the rear liftgate--but at least they do fold down.

The seven-seat crossover also comes with six airbags, including side-curtain bags that protect passenger heads in all three rows, and the usual suite of standard equipment: traction control, anti-lock brakes, and other electronic safety systems. Among them is an Around-View Monitor, which uses some of the sensors above to detect moving objects.

The QX60 pioneered a world-first safety feature, known as Backup Collision Intervention, that Infiniti expects to be very popular with parents. When the car is put into reverse, sonar sensors in the rear bumper scan the surroundings for  objects, and radar in the rear quarter panels looks for objects and over longer distances. The system is looking for motion that might be a child or a pet moving into the vehicle's path. If it finds anything that qualifies, it automatically applies the QX60's brakes after alerting the driver with both audible and visual warning signals. It works at speeds up to 5 mph for objects directly behind the car, and up to 15 mph for cross-traffic coming from the sides. It can be switched off too.

Better-known safety systems in the QX60 include Distance Control--otherwise known as adaptive cruise control--Blind-Spot Warning and Intervention, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Forward Collision Warning, and Intelligent Brake Assist. Over half a day's test drive, they all worked as expected, though we found the Lane Departure Warning system more sensitive than those in other vehicles. After a while, it started to become annoying, warning us every time we changed lanes--deliberately or not--unless we used the car's turn signals every time. The forward collision system only complies with IIHS 'basic' front crash prevention standards, which means that despite the top-notch crash ratings this model misses the Top Safety Pick+ list (it's a Top Safety Pick instead).

The telematics service will contact the nearest emergency responder if an airbag triggers or it senses a crash. It can also locates stolen vehicles, and unlock the vehicle remotely at the owner's request. Parents with teens who are just getting their drivers' licenses can set up Drive Zone and Speed Zone alerts that will notify them via text or e-mail when the vehicle exceeds a predefined speed or crosses the boundaries of a designated geographic area. The system allows both "stay within" or "keep out" zones.

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2015 INFINITI QX60

Features

The QX60 has some fine features, but its infotainment system needs a rework.

The 2015 Infiniti QX60 falls starts just above $40,000 for base models, with prices passing $50,000 if you choose liberally from the list of optional equipment. All-wheel-drive--available in all trim levels--adds $1,100 more on top of the prices of identically equipped front-wheel-drive versions.

The standard audio is a six-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system that plays MP3 files and comes with three free months of Sirius XM satellite radio, a USB port, and speed-sensitive volume adjustment. Other standard features include third-row seating, leather upholstery, pushbutton ignition, a rearview camera, and even a glass moonroof with an electrically retractable sunshade. Drivers control the audio, navigation, and other infotainment features using a fixed mouse-like controller below the seven-inch color touchscreen display.

For $400, Maple wood accents are added to the interior.

The Deluxe Touring Package (for $2,550) adds 20-inch alloy wheels, a Bose WaveGuide audio system with a specially designed amplifier to occupy minimal room under the load deck to maximize underfloor storage space, a fixed-glass roof above the third row, cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, and rain-sensing wipers.

Then there's a Driver Assistance Package that adds Rear Collision Intervention, along with a smart Eco Pedal that resists hard acceleration under certain driving circumstances. Infiniti has made this a standalone option that can be ordered for $2,200 separate from any other packages, reasoning that it will appeal to all families, wherever they fall in the model range.

The $4,950 Premium package includes a 13-speaker Bose audio system, driver's seat and steering wheel memory, power-folding mirrors, driver's lumbar, a heated steering wheel, and remote start. It can be ordered with or without a $1,700 Theater option that adds two small displays in the backs of the front-seat headrests for second-row video viewing.

Finally, the $3,100 Technology Package includes all the features of the Driver Assistance Package plus Lane Departure Warning and Correction, Blind-Spot Warning and Intervention, and seat belts that automatically pre-tension in anticipation of an accident. It requires that the Deluxe Touring Package be specified as well.

Although its display is crisp and clear, the infotainment system isn't without its flaws, though. The menus are convoluted, and the mix of dials, knobs, touchscreen commands, and controller use is among the least intuitive in any vehicle we've tried to figure out on the fly. We strongly recommend that shoppers considering the QX60 take the time to find a handful of commands they're likely to use, and make sure they're comfortable with this interface before signing on the line.

One unusual option is the Infiniti Personal Assistant service. For a monthly fee, drivers can be connected by phone to a concierge--an actual live human being--who will attempt to answer any queries the driver can come up with. Separately, the QX60's telematics package provides a year's worth of free destination assistance, along with access in the vehicle to Google Calendars, plus alerts that can be set (presumably by parents) to notify someone if the vehicle travels outside a specified geographic area or exceeds a pre-set speed.

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2015 INFINITI QX60

Fuel Economy

The QX60 Hybrid's EPA ratings are good; we've had difficulty replicating them in the real world.

Infiniti has done its best to give this seven-seat crossover good gas mileage, fitting a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) to all models as well as offering a hybrid model.

The standard QX60 3.5 with the gasoline V-6 engine returns 20 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway with front-wheel drive and takes just a 1-mpg demerit when all-wheel drive is added, for EPA ratings of 19/25 mpg. Over a 100-mile South Carolina test drive that included highway travel, suburban errands, and two-lane back country roads, we saw exactly 20 mpg on our top-of-the-line test vehicle.

The QX60 Hybrid's powertrain isn't a Toyota-style system, meaning it can't move away from stops using only electric power. Instead, it's a mild hybrid system like that used in small Hondas, that restarts the engine after stops, adds supplemental torque when more is needed, and recharges a small lithium-ion battery pack under regenerative braking.

Nonetheless, the system boosts gas mileage to 26/28 mpg in front-drive models and 25/28 in all-wheel-drive versions. Not bad for a system that only costs a couple of thousand dollars more. Those numbers are just a bit lower than those for the all-wheel-drive-only Toyota Highlander Hybrid (27/28 mpg). The Lexus RX 450h hybrid crossover, which isn't offered with seven seats, returns 32/28 mpg with front-wheel drive in EPA testing and 30/28 mpg for all-wheel-drive models.

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September 15, 2015
2015 INFINITI QX60 FWD 4-Door

Good bye MDX, Hello Luxury

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I previously owned a 2007 Acura MDX. During my car search, I initially test drove the 2016 Acura MDX. The MDX is a good vehicle, but is second tier luxury compared to the Infiniti. If you have kids, you will... + More »
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