2015 Infiniti QX60 Review: Weighing Its Potential Against Its Payoff

Source: Infiniti

Source: Infiniti

Introduction

I am not entirely sure where to start with this one. The 2015 Infiniti QX60 3.5 with AWD itself doesn’t entirely know where it is going either. This three-rowed, handsomely-styled luxury SUV is a people-mover of even proportions, being neither too small nor too cumbersome. By starting off at $43,800 for the all-wheel drive model, the QX60 offers the luxury auto shopper a family hauler that is not nearly as pricey as most of its competition. But that price represents what you get on the most basic version, and since the QX60 is basically a fanciful Pathfinder, it becomes tough to think of the Infiniti as an upgrade once you compare the two side-by-side.

It isn’t that this is a bad car. But it seems to be a little befuddled over the notion of what modern luxury is and how to go about offering said opulence to the increasingly discerning consumer. The typical automotive buyer is a fickle shopper, meaning that the luxury side of the segment is more maddening to appease — and the stakes are that much higher because of it. Small oversights here and there are one thing. Once enough of them appear, they can easily overpower even the strongest selling points on a car, regardless of year, make, or model. Unfortunately for the QX60, this issue runs rampant.

But before I go right into what is off with this machine, let’s cover what works well on the QX60. Head back to the last Infiniti I got to drive around for a week: As an automotive enthusiast, the Infiniti Q50 I reviewed this summer was pretty ideal for both my driving style and personal taste. The version I explored for a week this past July was a rear-wheel drive, double-touchscreen stacked, big brake-shod, sporty slice of sex appeal, with enough of everything in just the right place to make it stand out from the crowd without being obnoxious. In short, the Q50 was a very good luxury sport sedan with few issues, and a ton of well-placed slivers of customer consideration sprinkled throughout. You can tell that the QX60 is trying to mimic these strengths — but with far more varied results. So let’s jump in.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Exterior

Like the Q50 S, the QX60 is a silky, well-proportioned car, with brand-specific similarities emulating in virtually every corner of the vehicle. It’s a 2.25-ton, seven-passenger SUV, that remains proportionally balanced no matter which way you glance at it. While the wind-swept look may not be for everyone, the lines of the vehicle along with all of Infiniti’s smart uses of simplicity makes for a classy presentation. Granted, there are some slight issues with the exterior, but for the most part the QX60 remains an attractive automobile for its segment.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Exterior pros and cons

+ Sweeping lines, fluid arches, LED lighting, and well-integrated angles on all four sides give this SUV a body that is both shapely and sophisticated.

+ The integrated roof rack in matching chrome gives just enough flare to the equation up top, and since the QX60 is not overly chromed-out to begin with, this is a welcome addition when balancing out the sparkling grille and rocker panels.

+ Nice-looking wheels with well-balanced, proportional rubber wrapped around them give a stance that is neither overbearing nor meek-minded.

– There are courtesy lights integrated into the front two door handles, but not the back two. Passengers need to find door handles at night too.

– No keyless entry buttons for the backseat means either pulling out your keys to unlock the car, or pressing a front door handle switch and then walking back to open the door that needs accessing. (Not a deal-breaker, but this quickly becomes annoying when you are holding a baby, a diaper bag, and groceries all at once.)

– Small stuff, such as Infiniti’s choice to use an antenna that has a very visible, spiraling receiver wire wrapped around it distracts the eye from the otherwise well-sculpted lines of this SUV.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Powertrain

The 2015 Infiniti QX60 comes from the factory either with a 2.5-liter, supercharged hybridized engine, or a middle-of-the-mall 3.5-liter V6. I received the latter. While 265 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque may not sound like a whole lot, I was pleasantly surprised with how alive the car felt under throttle, as the V6 delivered consistently smooth acceleration, well beyond what its mid-range powerband looks like on paper.

Source: Infiniti

Source: Infiniti

Powertrain pros and cons

+ Solid acceleration, smooth operation, and seamless shift points are all thanks to the CVT transmission.

+ Setting this SUV into “Eco Mode” on the interstate still permits overtaking capabilities.

+ Drive Mode Selector allows Standard, Sport, Snow, and Eco modes. This way both throttle and transmission maps can get a shot in the arm.

– CVT transmissions are a double-sided sword. Smoothness and soullessness can easily be mistaken for one another here.

– This car can be put into manual shift mode, which is weird, because this SUV comes equipped with a CVT transmission, and the last time we checked, soccer moms were opting for cars like this so that they wouldn’t have to fool around with things like shifting.

– The 3.5-liter V6 is supposed to get an EPA estimated 19/26 miles per gallon, which is damn near impossible unless you like coasting a lot and are always driving downhill.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Interior

The QX60 I received had this super spacious, ornately appointed, library-level quiet, “wheat-colored” cabin inside it, where you could tell that the stylishly simplistic approach to the exterior had found its way to the interior. Even the leather seats had patterns carved into them to match the flow of the SUV’s body panels. All around visibility was exceptional, once the third row headrests were folded down, and the use of different colors and materials broke up the cabin quite nicely.

Every single seat received solid scores for adjustability and comfort, and the rear sunroof was a nice addition for anyone riding in the third row. Speaking of which, I found that accessing it is fairly easy in this car — while you may have to sit relatively low to the ground once you get back there, most adults will appreciate the amount of space offered. Even the third-row seat backs will recline in the QX60.

Downsides were both aesthetic and functional in nature. An undersized center console storage bin, subpar headliner materials, and an overabundance of hard plastics and easy-to-scratch surfaces dinged the overall feel of the interior. It may be well-laid-out and sharp looking, but this cabin is a somewhat uninspiring place as well; the QX60 feels just a little bit too minimalistic when compared to what we found in the Q50 S.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Interior pros and cons

+ The roomy third-row seat is easy to access and reclines comfortably so that it can support a six-foot adult.

+ The second row gets comfy heated seats that slide and can fold completely flat. It features climate-control adjustability and gets an over-sized moonroof that stretches all the way to the back of the cabin.

+ Many of the interior materials such as buttons, knobs, door handles, and seat switches all feel relatively sturdy, and while their layout may be simplistic, everything is easy to locate and remember for when one’s eyes must remain on the road.

– Hard plastics and rougher fabrics abound where soft materials should be, making the interior a tad unwelcoming in certain ways.

– Faux wood thrives throughout, and while it may not be a deal-breaker for some, a brushed aluminum or piano black option would be nice to see.

– Smaller setbacks include minimal mood lighting, no LED interior lights, and a navi screen that catches glare easily due to not having a substantial overhang above it.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Tech and safety

While it may not be the tech-savvy car of tomorrow, the QX60 does offer a lot of nice electronic amenities once you toss the $2,800 Tech Package, $3,450 Deluxe Touring Package, and a duo of Premium Packages for an additional $4,550. While this certainly adds to the sticker price ($10,800, to be exact), after utilizing the majority of these tech goodies on both the freeway and around town, I can safely say that they work quite well and are worth serious consideration. But for the poorly thought-out and somewhat dated-feeling navigation system and uninspiring “upgraded” audio components, let’s just say that they leave something to be desired.

Tech pros and cons

+ Extremely effective cross traffic/pedestrian alert system in both front and rear, shows what is approaching via camera, backup collision intervention (BCI), lane departure prevention, intelligent cruise control, and many other safety-minded amenities.

+ Heated and ventilated front seats can be climate-control equipped.

+ Fantastic surround camera systems with top-grade graphics make parking a breeze, and things like rain-sensing wipers, defrosting power-folding mirrors, and a heated steering wheel make all the difference when inclement weather strikes.

– The navigation system feels and looks dated, and it is extremely frustrating to use, as locations are broken down by region instead of by state. The touchscreen is not nearly as responsive and accommodating as some of the ones found in other cars.

– Even equipped with the Bose 13-speaker Premium Sound System, the audio in the QX60 remains tinny, and lows are tough to detect, even with the bass cranked up to 11.

– While eight-way adjustable driver seats are great, other automakers offer more adjustability for both pilot and passenger.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

The Drive

On the open road, the QX60 is a soft, body roll-prone kind of car. While I found the V6 in it to be more than substantial enough for daily driving duties, there was a hint of imbalance deep within the belly of this beast and no matter how it was driven I could not shake the feeling that something was not quite right. It is by no means an unpleasant vehicle to drive, it is just not very memorable.

The brakes were sufficiently proportioned and held together well under severe stops. However, it was the overly-soft, disjointed electric steering that turned me (and several other critics) off. Even in “Sport Mode,” the feedback I received from the steering column was soggy at best, and decisive turns quickly became fearful ones, as the SUV tended to keel sideways due to its squishy suspension.

On the bright side, I found that the QX60 had a very quiet cabin, and the overly soft suspension was quite comfy, absorbing bumps in Cadillac fashion. The all-wheel drive system kept everything in check nicely, even when I was battling my way through the remnants of Hurricane Patricia on my way to tour the Honda Manufacturing of Indiana plant.

This is a car for drivers who are not interested in connectivity with the road and who prefer compliance over precision. While it is nice that Infiniti is catering to their needs, I can’t help but wonder why anyone would put manual shift options and a sport mode on something like this, because neither of them made the car perform any better.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Wrap up and review

Once equipped with a healthy slew of tech, driver, and safety add-ons, the QX60 comes to just around $56,090 in all-wheel drive trim. While that’s a whole lot of car for the money, what you get is really not all that fantastic. The QX60 undoubtedly has a lot going for it in so many ways, it’s just that it negates all of its strong suits with mediocrity and poor execution.

The fundamental idea behind this SUV is a good one, it just needs a fair deal of reworking in order to best its competition, because every time I found something I really liked in the QX60, an undesirable oversight would appear, thus negating the positive point noted.

So what could Infiniti do to make the QX60 more of a contender? Suspension, steering, interior, and tech overhauls all come to mind immediately, and while other critics panned the 3.5-liter V6 found in the QX60, I think it should be left alone; it offers 5,000 pounds of towing capacity, and really only needs better fuel economy numbers. Hopefully, once it’s time for a refresh or overhaul, Infiniti leaves the styling alone for the most part — this SUV will still look fabulous in a decade’s time — and instead concentrates on the aforementioned issues. Overall, the Infiniti scores 3 of 5 cheats on our rating system.

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