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Saturday, March 24, 2018

2018 INFINITI QX60 Review

2018 INFINITI QX60 Review
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The 2018 Infiniti QX60 is an elegant, and simple, solution for families looking for a luxury crossover.

The 2018 Infiniti QX60 is a mid-size three-row crossover that hits right at the heart of a growing market. It's somewhat overshadowed by its smaller brother, the QX50, but both are relatively handsome ways to transport a small or big family.


From the outside, the three-row crossover doesn’t hide its elegant interior with a plunging roofline or bulging fenders. Its big doors are designed for easy entry/exit, especially in the third row, and its big hatch is excellent in swallowing gear. Call it truth in advertising.

This year the 2018 QX60 is pared down to a single model—the slow-selling QX60 Hybrid was axed —available in front- or all-wheel drive.

It earns a 6.5 on our overall scale thanks to its surprising comfort and high-quality materials. Performance and fuel efficiency aren’t necessarily its strong suit, an indication of its relative age.

A 3.5-liter V-6 mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is the only powerplant offered this year. Infiniti prefers to sell the QX60 in a single trim level, with multiple options that can transform it into a luxurious—and expensive—crossover.

Frustratingly, some of those good features like advanced safety systems and upgraded stereos are buried in multiple levels of nesting option packages that we can’t get behind.

Even base versions of the QX60 are fitted with leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment. Top-trim QX60s get a 15-speaker sound system by Bose, a surround-view camera system, and rear-seat entertainment.

Styling
The Infiniti QX60 doesn’t rely on gimmicks or trends, it just looks good—inside and out.

A few tweaks and pinches have kept the Infiniti QX60 relatively handsome compared to its class.

From the front and sides, Infiniti designers have managed to hide the crossover’s prodigious weight well. It’s only when parked next to a smaller sedan or crossover that the QX60 reveals how big it is.

The QX60 starts with a puckered grille up front, punctuated by headlights and chrome accents that help frame the floating badge. The QX60 thankfully (for now) skips the philtrum that now adorns the Q60’s nose.

Along the sides, the QX60 gracefully wears a crescent-shaped kickback also found on the Q60. Its fenders aren’t creased or butch, and the roofline isn’t hopelessly aggressive; the QX60 succeeds mostly in adapting a sedan’s shape to a crossover.

Inside, the QX60 blends high-quality materials with available technology in ways that we appreciate. There are many similarities between the QX60 and Nissan Pathfinder on which it’s based, but the Infiniti is shod with better leather and matte silver or wood accents that class up the confines.

One quibble: The dashboard analog clock is a little cliche at this point, right?

Performance
Good manners keep the Infiniti QX60 at the table for many luxury crossover shoppers.

Performance takes on a new meaning for three-row crossovers. Strong performers in the class keep chocolate milks upright, kids asleep in the back, or stop confidently. Big engines need not apply.

Middle of the road is a good thing here. We like the ride in the QX60 enough to give it a point above average, but take it back for steering that could be better. The QX60 gets a 5 out of 10 for performance.

Infiniti dropped the slow-selling QX60 Hybrid this year, which just leaves us one engine to talk about. All models are now powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 295 horsepower shuffled through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Infiniti gains from corporate-parent Nissan’s experience with CVTs in its smooth operation. It’s not as grating as versions from other automakers, but Infiniti’s coarse-sounding V-6 isn’t exactly helping either.

Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available on the QX60 for cold-weather states.

The QX60 is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped, which should be enough for small weekend toys.

Steering and handling isn’t as sharp as we’d expect from Infiniti, who normally has those things dialed in. We’re not looking for a sports-car experience, but the lighter-than-normal steering in the QX60 feels as if it lacks consequence.

Two years ago, Infiniti stiffened the suspension in the QX60 for better roadholding at the expense of ride quality. We’re not sure that it handles much better, but we’re confident that the ride is just as good as we remember.

Comfort & Quality
The Infiniti QX60 largely succeeds in materials and comfort—exactly what you’d expect for a luxury crossover.

The confines of the Infiniti QX60 are astonishingly on-trend for families looking for space, comforts, conveniences. Or briefly, “Infiniti QX60: We got you, fam.”

We give the QX60 points above average for front seats and second row seats. The third row is easily accessible, but best reserved for children and adults who act like children. One more for interior finish, and we arrive at an 8 out of 10 for comfort.

The QX60 is related to the Nissan Pathfinder in terms of space, but not in terms of finish. Even base versions of the QX60 are finished with leather, and top trims add lashings of maple wood that look well done.
Front-seat passengers will get the best seats in the house, but the second row isn’t far behind. The Infiniti QX60’s second row slides fore and aft 5.5 inches for NBA-sized leg room with the seats all the way back.

That may cramp the third row, however, but we say that the wayback is best for kids anyway.

Access to the third row is a breeze, made better by a second row that doesn’t require removal of child seats to get into the way back. Ask your nearest parent how useful that could be.

The third row of seats have a flatter bottom and less padding, so we don’t advise long hauls back there.

With all three rows of seats up, the QX60 holds 15.8 cubic feet of cargo, which is fairly capacious. Tumble the second- and third-row seats down for 76.5 cubic feet of cargo room.

Safety
Crash scores are good, but advanced safety features for the 2018 Infiniti QX60 carry a hefty price tag.

Federal and independent testers agree: The 2018 Infiniti QX60 is mostly safe when thrown into a wall.

Regulators give the QX60 a five-star overall score, despite four-star scores in frontal and rollover crash safety. The IIHS gave the QX60 top “Good” scores on all its tests and a “Superior” rating for its front crash prevention.

Getting advanced safety on the QX60 is no easy feat, however. Infiniti walls advanced safety features behind thousands of dollars of optional extras. Getting that Top Safety Pick crossover requires nearly $10,000 in optional extras. Other automakers, including Toyota, make some of those features standard on cars that cost much less than the QX60.

Thankfully, the Infiniti QX60 comes standard with a full complement of airbags, traction and stability control systems, and a rearview camera. A surround-view camera system is optional.

Features
Already luxurious out of the box, the 2018 Infiniti QX60 can be nearly opulent with deeper pockets.

The 2018 Infiniti QX60 doesn’t have time for confusing trims and feature details. The three-row crossover is offered with front- or all-wheel drive and a healthy set of base features. Asking for more requires opting for a Premium or Premium Plus package, the latter requires the former.

At the very least, the QX60 comes equipped with 18-inch wheels, a moonroof, power liftgate, power-adjustable heated front seats, leather upholstery, keyless ignition, rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment.

That’s good base equipment, especially the touchscreen, and nets two points above average for features. We take one back because Infiniti’s operating system is comparatively confusing and not as slick as others.

We’re guessing that few base QX60s will be spotted at dealers’ lots, but instead will be fitted with one or more optional packages.

The Premium package adds a 13-speaker Bose stereo, heated steering wheel, remote start, and memory seats.

Stepping up to Premium Plus adds navigation, a surround-view camera system, and is a prerequisite for other features that help transform the QX60 into a family-friendly and luxurious hauler.

An optional rear-seat entertainment package adds dual 8.0-inch screens for second-row riders. A driver assistance package adds adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, front and rear parking sensors, and rear automatic emergency braking.

A deluxe package goes the distance with all of the above, 20-inch wheels, an uprated 15-speaker Bose stereo, active lane control, a motion-sensing power liftgate, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, power-adjustable third row, and maple wood accents.

That’s a healthy list of options, but they’re frustratingly siloed in a single trim that requires opting for several entry luxury features that buyers may upgrade after all.

Fuel Economy
The 2018 Infiniti QX60 manages 22 mpg combined in all forms. Others can do better, but not without batteries and thousands added to the bottom line.

Market forces—or common sense—led Infiniti to shelve the slow-selling QX60 Hybrid model for this year. It was an order-only affair last year, and we suspect few buyers were swayed by its marginal fuel-economy gains.

This year, the 2018 Infiniti QX60 is powered only by a 3.5-liter V-6, in front- or all-wheel drive configuration.

Both models are rated nearly identically by the EPA at 20 mpg city, 27 highway, 22 combined for the front-drive version, 19/26/22 mpg for all-wheel drive. 

Among three-row crossovers those figures are relatively competitive. Only the Volvo XC90 and Acura MDX do much better, but only when equipped with batteries.

The plug-in hybrid XC90 and MDX Sport Hybrid are both rated at 27 mpg combined, but cost thousands more than the QX60.

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