This is significant for two reasons:
1. Except for the name change, which I’m still struggling with, the QX60 has apparently been stuck in a time warp. This is basically the same vehicle as that long-termer. Same powertrain with the same output, same suite of features. Heck, sticker price is within a hundred bucks or so.
2. I’ve somehow managed to remember a three-row SUV from ages ago, which means it was probably somehow distinctive, either shockingly bad or memorably good at its job.
Well -- spoiler alert -- the JX35/QX60 is not shockingly bad. It was a great people-hauler then and it remains one now.
The sculpted D-pillar tricks you into thinking this is a more flamboyantly styled crossover than it actually is; in reality, it’s trim but more or less inoffensive. I think it looks better in darker colors.
Nissan/Infiniti’s move into continuously variable transmissions has proved wise -- though we once used to comment, without fail, on the presence of a CVT (usually to complain), they’re becoming ever-more prevalent and seemingly getting better all the time. In fact, I’ve heard more griping about those new nine-speeds lately.
And the 3.5-liter/CVT combo right here is still one of the least offensive pairings on the market. There’s no real need to switch into “sport” mode while driving the QX60; normal isn’t bad, and “eco” isn’t painful for puttering around town. I think the accelerator pedal-feel “plateau” the car conjures up to keep you from flooring the throttle is a particularly clever way of limiting fuel use (you can still push the pedal to the floor for wanton-ish acceleration).
Now if they could just iron out the steering. We’re not going for razor-edge precision in a three-row SUV, obviously, but the electric power steering is synthetic, dull, numb, etc. -- more so, I think, than comparable offerings from Hyundai. I have a hard time believing that’s a make-or-break factor for a three-row crossover shopper, however.
EDITORIAL CONTENT MANAGER NATALIE NEFF: I had a similar reaction to the QX60 as did Mr. Kozak: feeling oddly displaced behind the wheel before it suddenly occurred to me that I’d somehow been here before. Except I hadn’t, had I? I’d never driven a QX60 previously, but I sure as heck was familiar with almost every inch of it. The effect is a bit jarring, like seeing an acquaintance in an unfamiliar setting. It takes a few measurable beats before it all clicks together.
Yes, the JX35, a former Autoweek long-termer well loved by the staff, its relatively compact footprint housing a wonderfully spacious and efficient three-row interior and with a stylish profile that set it apart from a sea of same-ol’ riffs on the three-box theme: This was the very same vehicle, and in all ways but for the color palette.
Thing is, though Infiniti overhauled its naming scheme a while back -- close to two years ago now? -- I’m still baffled by the entire thing. Where I can still picture and, more importantly, kind of understand the distinctions between a G, M, Q, JX and QX, etc., Infiniti’s new nomenclature is utterly devoid of an anchoring point, a spot among all the alphanumeric mumbo-jumbo to plant your feet and mentally measure the relative physical and metaphysical, if you will, differences between segments. I have no instinctive feel for where the shifting number portion (the “60” in QX60) places the vehicle. I mean, I guess I understand that Infiniti intends the higher numbers to indicate a step up in class and segment, but beyond that, it means NOTHING to me. If the current leadership at Infiniti doesn’t realize how mind-numbingly dumb the whole naming scheme is, well, I suppose it’s because they’re happy with moving only 117,000 units a year (compared with, say, BMW’s 396,000).
Okay, rant over. Really, except for the JX, er, QX60’s fakey-fakey steering feel, I thoroughly enjoy driving it. I love the flexibility of the interior, easily configurable for ultimate passenger and/or cargo utility, the controls are all fairly intuitive and it’s just a comfortable ride overall. The power from the reliable 3.5-liter is aplenty, and the ute offers a cushy ride while not being overly floaty or numb. I probably would’ve appreciated seeing some sort of an update over our previous long-termer—it really is the identical vehicle—but even as is it’s a fantastic ride.
Options: Deluxe touring package including 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels, Bose cabin surround sound system, advanced climate control system, climate-controlled front seats, heated second-row seats, power up-folding third-row seats, second/third moonroof and power sunshade and maple interior accents ($3,450); Premium plus package Infiniti connection, Infiniti hard drive navigation, 8-inch VGA color touchscreen display, Infiniti voice recognition, NavTraffic and NavWeather, around view monitor with moving object detection and front and rear sonar, streaming audio via Bluetooth, reverse tilt-down feature for outside mirrors and rain-sensing windshield wipers ($3,000); Technology package including backup collision intervention, intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning, blind spot warning and intervention, lane departure warning and prevention and intelligent cruise control ($2,800); Premium package including Bose 13-speaker premium sound system, Dual occupant memory system, driver’s seat two-way power lumbar adjust, heated steering wheel, enhanced intelligent key, remote engine start ($1,550); roof rails ($495)
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