Test Drive: 2016 Infiniti QX70S

When Infiniti released its FX35 and FX45 crossovers over a decade ago, some reviewers, hard-pressed to categorize the model, resorted to calling it a sporty SUV. Which is a redundancy when you think about it. 

It goes like stink, it corners like crazy and it looks like it wants to bite you if you get too close. 

The model continues as the QX70 and it still defies easy characterization. That said, the BMW X6, while slightly longer and wider, comes to mind as another “sporty” SUV and the Porsche Macan bears a striking resemblance in profile and intent, although it’s a bit shorter in length. 

Suffice it to say that the Infiniti QX70 and its “Sport” variant, the QX70S (so that makes it a sporty sport utility vehicle with a sport package) is not an SUV at all, at least not in the conventionally understood sense. The QX70S is more like a steroidal luxury hatchback. It’s definitely what its buyers want, rather than what they may need. It goes like stink, it corners like crazy and it looks like it wants to bite you if you get too close. In short, it has character! 

The 2016 model carries over unchanged from 2015, with a starting price of $53,800 for the QX70 and $60,150 for the QX70S. Both are fitted with all-wheel drive and a 3.7L 325-hp V6 engine mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. For the record, that engine makes more power than the retired V8 found in QX70’s FX45 predecessor. And for those with boats or small trailers it will tow 1,588 kg (3,500 lb), although a tow package isn’t listed as an available accessory. 

Our QX70S came with the optional $3,500 Technology Package, bringing its as-tested price to $65,780 including freight and fees (but check Infiniti.ca for cash discount offers).

QX70S models are very well equipped, including a hard-disk-based navigation system, power liftgate, magnesium paddle shifters, around-view camera, sport seats with manual thigh extensions, 21 x 9.5-inch dark finish alloy wheels, dark finish exterior trim, purple contrast stitching for the interior trim (black only), heated and cooled front seats and adaptive front lighting. Notably, the QX70S variant arrives with a limited choice of four colours – black, white, grey and silver. In comparison, you have a choice of seven exterior and three interior colours with the QX70. 

The Technology Package features Intelligent Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Intelligent Brake Assist and Collision Warning, Rain-sensing windshield wipers, Distance Control Warning and Front Pre-Crash Seatbelts. So equipped, the QX70S is just about as complete as it can be (okay, no head-up display). 

And as I say, the 2016 Infiniti QX70S has presence. I can tell you that in black with its huge black wheels, muscular fenders and black exterior trim (“darkened” is an understatement), it turns heads everywhere. My partner, Susan, says it’s a vehicle only a male would buy, although she drives a Volkswagen Tiguan, which is a vehicle… okay, never mind.

Did someone say Tiguan? Preview: 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 

But what sets the model apart visually is the long hood and formidable front end. Easily a third of the QX70S is hood and it really is something of an anomaly to see such proportions these days. I find it quite appealing, although the sinister trim would not be my first choice. 

Inside, front-row occupants are treated to fine seating and a carefully tailored environment featuring quilted leather panels and piano black trim. The sport seats are wonderfully supportive and the purple stitching is… different, but not garish. The Infiniti interior, still featuring its little oval analog clock, is a tastefully executed place. Looks and feels high quality; not too much flash despite the clock’s chromed hands that you can’t easily read. 

The rear seat, according to Infiniti, offers room for three adults, but they would be of diminutive stature if they wanted sufficient space. It’s tight back there for three abreast, but leg and headroom for two seems sufficient. 

Although you get over 700 L of space behind the rear seat, it’s not particularly usable if you’re carrying bulky items. The high cargo floor and low roof give you only a 610 mm (about two feet) vertical opening. Not a lot, that is, and the fussy cargo cover doesn’t particularly help. Lower the rear seat backs and you get good cargo capacity for longer items.

Roof rails are standard on the QX70S and various Infiniti accessories can be fitted to them, including kayak, ski, bicycle and cargo carriers. Surprisingly (to me, anyway), you can also get a $399 hatch tent for your QX70S, kind of a yurt that you fix to the back of your open hatch for outdoor sojourns. The standard power liftgate is appreciated, although careful you don’t accidentally close it on your yurt. That could be embarrassing.

The instrument panel and controls, while neatly organized, are showing their age. This configuration has been around a while, and these days vehicles of this class will typically have a central control (HMI or Human Machine Interface) usually between the seats from which you run everything. The QX70S’s older-style system means you have to select from dozens of mostly undifferentiated buttons and knobs arrayed up and down the centre stack. There is a recessed touchscreen display but it’s not within comfortable reach and nor are most of the buttons, for that matter. The control functions, however, are easy to figure out.

The sunroof is small and likewise seems dated because of it (most vehicles of this type are now fitted with full-size panoramic roofs), as does the flimsy manually operated sunroof cover. Another “heritage” item is the turn signal without lane-change feature.

You’d also expect some kind of drive mode selector as is found in similarly priced vehicles, but the QX70S has only a “snow” setting, which presumably starts it in a higher gear. And speaking of snow, good luck finding affordable 21-inch winter tires (they can be over $500 apiece). Infiniti doesn’t recommend using a smaller wheel and tire package although to my mind, a 9.5-inch wide rim is too big in snow. 

But I’ll tell you where the QX70S excels, and it’s the same quality that enabled the earlier FX models to shine so brightly. Heavy as it is (1,915 kg, and this with aluminum hood and doors), the QX70S has really fine driving dynamics. Put it on a twisty road and its handling will surprise you. It’s much nimbler and more responsive than you may expect, delivering a secure and stable ride as it carves its way around tight corners and accelerates sharply when the road straightens out. The vehicle feels solid, the chassis stiff, the ride firm but smooth. 

Its second area of excellence – with a couple of caveats – is its exterior design. I think it has great lines. Its sleek, purposeful looks continue to appeal and make it a good choice for the buyer who wants something different. The caveats are that the formidable front end can delay forward visibility when cresting a hill, and that the QX70 in its current form is nearing replacement (see below).

Long and low, you do have to perform a little human origami to fold yourself into the front seat, but after thunking your head a few times, you smarten up. And once inside and on the road you have a fine interior to enjoy and reasonably decent fuel economy at the “official” rating of 14.6/10.7 L/100km city/highway. I generally did better, seeing 13.1 city and about 11.0 highway. Premium fuel is required, though. 

Finally, the interior fit and finish is well crafted and designed, and the seats offer excellent comfort and support. I’d be happy to take this vehicle on a long road trip any day.

My feeling about the Infiniti QX70S is that it’s really for two people who carry passengers occasionally and largely use the cargo area for groceries and smaller items. It’s not an off-roader, a big rig hauler, or a furniture mover. It’s about style, performance, craftsmanship and value. Compare this to a similarly equipped German equivalent and you’ll be saving a lot. And if you load up the QX70 (without the “S”) with technology and premium packages, you’ll be below $60,000. 

Expect The QX70 models to be significantly updated (replaced, even) over the next year or two. Infiniti is in the process of revising its entire lineup, having begun with the Q50 sedan and introducing shortly a Q30 hatchback and QX30 crossover. Future vehicles will follow these styling cues.

Warranty:
4 years/100,000 km; 6 years/110,000 km powertrain; 7 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/100,000 km roadside assistance

Competitors:
Audi Q5
BMW X5
BMW X6
Lexus RX
Mercedes-Benz GLE
Porsche Cayenne

2016 Infiniti QX70S
articles_PricingType 2016 Infiniti QX70S
Base Price $60,150
Optional Equipment $3,500 (Technology Package)
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $2,030
Price as Tested $65,780
Optional Equipment
10 0
Scoring breakdowns 7.6
8 Comfort
7 Fuel Economy
8 Performance
7 Interior
8 Exterior Styling