Infiniti QX60 — Family friendly luxury crossover

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The window sticker on the 2016 Infiniti QX60 proclaims it is "built for families, designed for drivers." Infiniti has definitely got the family part down. The QX60 is a very attractive three-row crossover with a useable third-row seat and with numerous available kid-friendly features. The "drivers" part not so much. If you are looking for a performance and handling machine in the image of BMW or Audi, best to check out the X5 or the Q7.

Infiniti has a real "driver's" crossover in its inventory called the QX70, once dubbed the Bionic Cheetah" in its early days. But it has just two rows of seating and limited cargo space.

Granted, Infiniti tightened up the suspension and sharpened the handling of the QX60 for this year's mid-cycle refresh, but it remains the only crossover in the luxury carmaker's lineup with front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive is available) and a continuously variable transmission. It does come with Nissan's excellent 3.5-liter V-6 making 265 horsepower, but it faces the task of pulling 4,515 pounds of curb weight.

Forget the "designed for drivers" part of the new slogan, and we find one of the most engaging luxury vehicles in the segment capable of hauling up to seven people in relative comfort. The most notable improvement over the outgoing model is the quiet, peaceful interior. The new QX60 is as hushed as any comparable Lexus or Mercedes. It's impressive.

Secondly, Infiniti has gone to some effort in upgrading the interior materials and the cabin's overall look and feel. It has a luxurious combination of leather, wood and metal accents. Door and dash materials are now padded and stitched. Infiniti has created a classy living space in every respect able to do battle with such competitors as the Lexus RX 350, and Acura MDX.

The QX60 is based on the last-generation Nissan Murano platform, but stretched longer (196 inches) and wider to accommodate three rows of passengers. The second row tilts and slides 5.5 inches fore and aft allowing passengers to enter and exit the third row with ease. And the third row offers enough headroom for average-sized adults, not always the case for so-called six-and-seven passenger crossovers.

When hauling cargo is the order of the day, the QX can satisfy most needs with 15.8 cubic feet behind the third-row seats. Cargo capacity is an average-for-the-segment 76 cubic feet with all seatbacks folded. For those who tow, the QX60 has a useable tow rating of 5,000 pounds. It can also be ordered as a hybrid for 2016, but the tow rating drops to 3,500 pounds.

While a number of three-row luxury crossovers have quicker 0-to-60 times and can merge and pass with a bit more confidence, performance from the 265-horsepower engine is adequate. It's measured at just a tick or two under 8 seconds to 60 mph. Here's the thing — once up to speed all performance complaints will evaporate because the QX60 offers a true luxury ride. At the same time, Infiniti's efforts to sharpen the steering and suspension components have paid off. Plus the artificial shift points created to simulate the shifting of a conventional transmission eliminate the unwelcome feel of the no-gear CVT.

We applaud Infiniti for keeping things simple for the driver. While the touchscreen interface may be a bit dated with a rather smallish screen, the combination of physical buttons and knobs make controlling the audio and climate functions a pleasure. For instance, the QX60 has actual standard pre-set buttons for the radio, a rarity in this age of controls ensconced in the touchscreen. Also, we found the adaptive cruise control easy to operate. And the optional $1,800 Premium package Bose sound system is delightful.

Unfortunately, Infiniti has not gone out of its way to make anything more than the normal safety features standard — airbags, traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes and a backup camera. Many other goodies are available including a 360-degree-view parking camera, automatic emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, back-up collision mitigation system and blind-spot monitoring — but all for a price in packages.

The QX60 starts at $43,595 for front-wheel drive and $45,395 for all-wheel including destination charge. There are no trim levels, just packages. Our two-wheel drive test vehicle came with the Premium Plus Package ($2,900), the Drive Assistance Package ($1,700), and the Premium Package ($1,800) bringing the bottom line to $51,795.

The QX60 is not a "driver's car" in the mold of BMW, but a comfortable family vehicle that we think adequately checks all the boxes with one of the most passenger-friendly and attractive interiors in the segment.

Base price: $43,595; as driven, $51,795
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6
Horsepower: 265 @ 6,400 rpm
Torque: 248 foot-pounds @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission: continuously variable
Drive: all wheel
Seating: 2/2/3
Wheelbase: 114.2 inches
Length: 196.4 inches
Curb weight: 4,515 pounds
Turning circle: 38.7 feet
Towing capacity: 5,000 pounds
Luggage capacity: 15.8 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 76.5 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 19.5 gallons (Premium recommended)
EPA rating: 19 city, 26 highway, 22 combined
0-60: 7.8 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Acura MDX, Lincoln MKX, Volvo XC90

The Good
• User-friendly third-row seat
• Quiet interior
• Luxury feel and look inside

The Bad
• Most safety features are optional

The Ugly
• Performance below segment average