Mountain Wheels: Upscale Infiniti QX60 takes on its luxury competitors while QX55 gets a chop job |

Mountain Wheels: Upscale Infiniti QX60 takes on its luxury competitors while QX55 gets a chop job

The 2022 Infiniti QX60, pictured in its high-end Autograph edition, combines the space and refinement of the new Nissan Pathfinder with the ultimate in luxury cabin details.
Infiniti Motor Co./Courtesy photo

While two of my close friends from my earlier days in car writing are now executive-level employees at Infiniti, Nissan’s premium brand, I really can’t tell you much about the company’s objectives, other than to out-German the Germans when it comes to luxury vehicles.

I have, luckily, had a bunch of their newer models, so I can at least tell you what the driving experience is like. That includes both the all-new 2022 Infiniti QX60, the upscale partner to the new Nissan Pathfinder, and the new QX55, an apparently lifestyle-oriented, coupe-roofed option that’s based off the smaller QX50 SUV.

The $63,250 Autograph edition QX60 seemed to me much more like a Range Rover version of Pathfinder, with a lot of edgy stylistic choices closer to the more-than-full-size QX80. That is audacious, but in a way that’s not quite as obnoxious as Lexus, though the preponderance of chrome vents and trim are certainly splashy-plus, as are the 20-inch aluminum wheels. (I should note that a much more basic, front-wheel drive version of the vehicle is available for $46,850.)

In the cabin, a pillow-stitched lower dash buffer, a bend of black wood trim and a full complement of hard-to-see glossy black haptic controls combine for a pretty snazzy look. There are even curious alternative readout settings for the instruments if you’re tired of standard gauges.

Power here gets a slight edge over Pathfinder in the form of a 295-horsepower, 270 foot-pound, 3.5-liter V-6 setup with a nine-speed automatic and intelligent all-wheel drive. If you’re used to the 400 horses found in the QX80 (or the outstanding power I found in the high-output version of the Q60 sedan), the engine is a slight disappointment, and while the mass is not quite as present as it is in that beast, the three-row QX60 can feel slightly hefty at times, not only on steep climbs but in any strong cornering conditions.

On the whole, however, it felt calm, collected and great for highway cruising, and its litany of driver assistance and safety electronics (sensors, ProPilot quasi-autonomous cruise control, even an around-view monitor that detects moving objects) are well integrated — especially since so many of them first appeared on earlier Infiniti automobiles before appearing in more pedestrian brands.

My tester certainly carried the full complement of luxury, with quilted and perforated semi-Aniline leather seats in the first and second rows, and equally striking but compact third-row seating. The front seats also feature a massage mode, while the second-row captains’ chairs are also heated and quite spaciously comfortable. They slide just as much as the Pathfinder’s did, with broad rear doors for easy access and heavy-duty scuff plates.

There’s outline stitching everywhere and aluminum-esque trim on the doors, plus very prominent window pillar and door placement for some of the 17 speakers in the Bose Performance audio system.

Like Pathfinder, QX60 is set up to allow 6,000 pounds of towing capacity, with a transmission oil cooler and hitch and trailer electronics already built in.

One perhaps half-size smaller option, for those envious that Mercedes has both full-roofed and curve-roofed options for almost all of its SUVs, is the new, curve-roofed QX55. It continues to be heavily promoted by influencers on social media; I had to hit a dealer site in Dayton, Ohio, to get the scoop that it’s pretty much exactly a QX50 with a chop job and a bunch of fancier trim, wheels and a super-groovy cement gray paint job, plus a red interior.

My AWD Sensory-level version of the 55, priced at $58,770, was indeed striking with its painted 20-inch wheels, its much more stylized and sensuous grille and the aforementioned low-profile rear roof. While the design’s curves certainly help set it apart from standard SUV shape, I discovered it pretty much entirely cancels out rear visibility, as is the case in those rounded Benzes. I see now the design is sort of a tribute to the igloo-shaped Infiniti FX of almost two decades ago; this one certainly looks better than that.

Power in the QX55 is a pretty high-output 2.0-liter turbo pushing 268 horses and 280 pound-feet of torque, which certainly hustled the vehicle along. It is, however, connected to a continuously variable transmission, which behaved much better than those in brands that chose to abandon the technology – but remains tangible, certainly.

On this smaller platform, that laundry list of safety systems can seem a bit overwhelming, but they’re certainly welcome.

Andy Stonehouse

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