2017 Infiniti QX60 AWD
For the second year in a row, Infiniti is making significant changes to its QX60 mid-size luxury crossover SUV. Following last year’s mid-cycle update that spruced up the QX60’s jelly-bean styling, lightly revised its interior, and improved the three-row crossover’s chassis dynamics, Infiniti’s massaged version of the Nissan Pathfinder enters the 2017 model year with a new 3.5-liter V-6 engine under its contoured hood.
Dubbed VQ35DD, the rejuvenated engine shares less than half of its parts with last year’s V-6. Horsepower is now rated at a stout 295, and torque rises to a healthy 270 lb-ft (gains of 30 and 22). A continuously variable automatic transmission again shuffles torque to the drive wheels, which are either the front two or, as in the example tested here, all four. Although we’d prefer a traditional planetary automatic, Infiniti’s CVT is a generally agreeable unit that imitates step shifts when heavy throttle is applied so as to avoid engine droning. Furthermore, a dedicated manual mode gives the driver seven preset ratios to swap among, while a dial on the center-console tunnel offers four driving modes: Standard, Sport, Snow, and Eco, the last of which engages Infiniti’s intrusive Eco Pedal on QX60s equipped with either the Driver Assistance package or—as installed on our test car—the Deluxe Technology package. The Eco Pedal works by adding resistance to the throttle, thus discouraging the driver from exercising a heavy foot. We generally left the QX60 in the Standard setting, although we occasionally switched to Sport for its slightly sprightlier throttle response. Sport mode also brings a tendency to rev the engine past 3500 rpm, where there is indeed more power accompanied by noticeable coarseness.
At the track, the QX60’s overhauled powertrain carried our 4654-pound test car to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, 100 mph in 18.0 seconds, and through the quarter-mile in 15.5 seconds at 93 mph—gains of 0.7, 2.4, and 0.5 seconds compared with a 102-pound-lighter, all-wheel-drive 2013 Infiniti JX35 we previously tested. (The QX60 was known as the JX35 before Infiniti changed the name for 2014 as part of a Q-based rebranding scheme for its entire lineup.) Passing power saw a similar improvement, with the QX60’s 30-to-50-mph and 50-to-70-mph runs requiring just 3.8 and 4.7 seconds to complete, besting the earlier model by 0.5 and 0.2 second.
In spite of the engine’s additional grunt, EPA fuel economy remains unchanged at 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway for QX60s equipped with all-wheel drive. Front-wheel-drive models, however, see city fuel economy fall from 21 mpg to 20 mpg, while the highway rating stays unchanged at 27 mpg. No matter the drive wheels, Infiniti asks that you feed the QX60 premium fuel. We averaged 20 mpg during our time with the crossover, or 2 mpg short of the QX60 AWD’s EPA combined rating.
Last year’s suspension tweaks marginally refine the crossover’s handling. Body roll is less pronounced and overall grip is improved, with the QX60 recording 0.79 g around our skidpad, 0.03 g better than the 2013 JX35. Even better, bringing the QX60 to a halt from 70 mph required just 177 feet, 4 feet less than the old JX35. For comparison, a 397-pound-lighter, all-wheel-drive Acura MDX circled our skidpad at 0.82 g but required 185 feet to stop from 70 mph.
Still, the QX60 continues to prioritize comfort over dynamic prowess, as the ride is marshmallow soft and steering effort is so light and overboosted that the wheel can be turned with a single finger—a boon for navigating crowded parking lots but a drag on driver confidence when navigating twisty two-lane roads or crowded freeways. Further adding to the QX60’s relaxed nature is a pair of soft and supportive seats for the driver and front passenger, and a spacious 60/40 split-folding second-row bench that slides, reclines, and can be tilted forward for third-row access even with a child seat in place, albeit only on the 40 side. Step-in height is low, as is lift-over height for the cargo area, accessed via a standard power rear liftgate that opens to reveal 16 cubic feet of luggage space with all seven seats in place. Meanwhile, the 50/50 split-folding third row can be quickly and easily folded flat to elongate the cargo area. With 30.8 inches of rear legroom, the QX60’s rearmost row is cramped but class competitive. Those seeking a roomier third-row option should check out the Buick Enclave, which provides its rearmost riders with an additional 2.4 inches of legroom.
Exterior Master Piece
The 2017 Infiniti QX60 earns gold stars for its seats – which are enjoyable and spacious – and its serene, smooth ride. It’s one of the few midsize SUVs where even adults will feel welcome in the third row. Tech features include a simple (but somewhat dated) infotainment system and a multitude of available safety features. Most describe the QX60’s interior as upscale and high-quality, but it doesn’t win over everyone, with hard plastics and numerous similarities with the nonluxury Nissan Pathfinder diminishing the appeal for some.