Mountain Wheels: Infiniti’s QX60 classes up the people-hauling experience (column) |

Mountain Wheels: Infiniti’s QX60 classes up the people-hauling experience (column)

The popular 3-row / 7-passenger Infiniti QX60 is designed to push the boundaries of what a luxury crossover can be. Its unique features include exceptional seating flexibility and easy access to the roomy 3rd row (without having to remove a 2nd row child seat). Available advanced technology includes Infiniti Connection and Backup Collision Intervention™ (BCI) system.
Infiniti | Infiniti

2015 Infinti QX60 3.5 AWD

MSRP: $43,800: As tested, $56,090

Powertrain: 265-HP 3.5-liter V6 engine, CVT automatic transmission

EPA MPG figures: 22 combined: 19 city, 26 highway

While only just a few years old – and formerly referred to as JX 60 in luxury carmaker Infiniti’s pre-unified taxonomy – the QX60 is interesting in what I think it helped inspire in other automobiles.

That is, its spacious but not absolutely gigantic status as a seven-passenger, mid-sized luxury crossover has now been mimicked by the greater automotive market, as new vehicles strangely continued to stay large, rather than small.

It’s also interesting to see over a few years how much of the premium Infiniti technology has filtered down both to parent company Nissan’s regular automobiles, and is now offered on competitors like the awfully similar-looking Kia Sorento – bits like a 360-degree, top-view camera, which many brands have emulated.

But they still don’t have the QX60’s class and some keen features such as a force field-like intelligent cruise control/traffic buffer system – which allows you to literally drive like you have a magic bubble around your car, automatically slowing you in traffic of any speed – plus the trademark Infiniti wood/creamy leather (a color named Wheat, of course) interior treatment.

And they’re likely a bit shorter on the overall reliability and durability that comes with this more-than-adequately sized, three-row people hauler.

Yes, the new Pathfinder is now a whole lot more Infiniti-like itself, but this is indeed the top of the heap, at least until you decide you need the absolutely gargantuan QX80, the very tall Infiniti offering that’s half Suburban, half Land Cruiser. Opt for a set of 20-inch wheels and shiny roof rails and it’s even more glossy.

There are just a few minor tradeoffs to the QX60’s charming mix, the most prominent being that a reliable 26-plus MPG (in AWD setup, no less) from a 265-HP 3.5-liter V6 does feel just a little touchy at very high altitude, with the vehicle’s somewhat obvious mass.

The 4,523-pound AWD QX60 is also just on the edge of moving into the ponderous, as one starts to experience in vehicles of this size, meaning that I could gently glide but not necessarily careen around corners without my lateral grip disappearing quite quickly.

And the continuously variable automatic transmission is indeed quite sophisticated, allowing a six-speed range of absolutely virtual gears but never feeling slack or slow to react as such systems were just a few years ago.

If your general family needs call for serious capacity, then the QX60 will deliver in droves. Second-row seating slides a foot or so for passenger comfort and is fully outfitted in the same glossy and comfortable leather as the front cabin. It also accommodates child seats, allowing them to be installed but still provide useful access to the third row.

And that’s no joke, as both sides of the second row have pop-up seat bottoms and tilting seatbacks, and getting into the very back is easy. Larger individuals may not want to get into that smaller space, but getting there is simple.

The rear side door glass is absolutely panoramic and even those in the truncated third row get good views, plus a huge speaker aimed right at their heads, which might be a useful development if you have noisy, smaller passengers. Both rows fold almost entirely flat, producing a total of 76.5 cubic feet of cargo space.

What I would call the vehicle’s primary Infiniti-ness remains its level of cabin details, glossy to a fault. Rivulets around the speedometer, the dull silver offsetting the wood highlights, all charmingly part of a soft and swoopy shape to the entire cockpit.

But simplicity is also part of the QX60’s appeal, with very restrained controls compared to its Japanese and European counterparts – the vehicle has just three buttons total on its center console, controlling seat temperature and a multi-mode drive select system. That’s it.

And the QX60 has managed to add even more safety technology as the years have gone by, with the virtual safety cushion now complemented by a backup collision intervention system that will probably be standard on every other car in about five years.

The body design still works, as well, with long, smooth lines all creating a cohesive sweep on the rather drawn-out cabin. There’s just enough added chrome to be maybe a little tacky in spots (the window frames, or an additional chrome slab on the doors), but the front bumper is now clean of adornment and actually makes the 60 look like maybe the largest Mazda crossover ever built.

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