First Drive: 2016 Infiniti QX60

The QX60 is the best-selling Infiniti here in Canada with 3,863 units sold last year. The next-best seller, the Q50, sold 3,295 units. So it’s fair to say that the QX60 is the marque’s most important brand. Last year, QX60 sales climbed another nine percent year on year – a trend Infiniti hopes to continue.

To put this into automotive executive speak: “YAY! I’m getting my bonus!”

Not only that; but 90 percent of QX60 buyers were new to the brand, younger (under 35) and female. To put this into automotive executive speak: “YAY! I’m getting my bonus!”

It sits in a strange spot in the lineup – the QX60 is actually bigger than the QX70, but came online later. QX75 sounded silly, so here we are. The new QX30 is the smallest Infiniti SUV, followed by the QX50, QX70 then QX 60 and the gargantuan QX80.

Motivation comes courtesy of a 3.5L V6 worth 265 hp at 6,400 rpm and 248 lb-ft at 4,400, rated at 12.2/8.9/10.7 l/100 km city/highway/combined. If you want better economy there’s a hybrid rated at 8.9/8.4/8.7. It is powered by a supercharged 2.5L inline four and an electric motor rated at 250 net system horsepower.

Both drivetrains power all four wheels in Canada via a CVT. Nissan’s family does some good CVT work, and the QX60 unit is a solid offering but still too rubber-band feeling and loud for my tastes. It just doesn’t accept big throttle percentages willingly and its protestations grow tiresome. But if you drive the QX60 in a normal fashion that’s not something you’ll experience often. Also the CVT has benefits in terms of smoothness and fuel economy that my lead foot simply doesn’t appreciate. QX60 buyers likely will.

With moderate throttle inputs the 3.5L engine picks up speed smoothly and quickly, getting the 2,046 kg away from the traffic light and from the off-ramp to the fast lane confidently. It’s sound is muted inside the cabin and there is zero harshness. That ease of driving carries forward to the chassis and suspension settings.

A new steering rack is designed to be more direct, and coupled with improved chassis tuning the QX60 is claimed to be a better handling and more agile SUV than its predecessor. If I’m honest, I felt little difference between the new and old QX60. Both are equally easy to drive and provide decent ride without any unnecessary fuss. This is an SUV and makes no real pretense for anything but.

Infiniti target more “fun to drive” factor for 2016 but it was a gentle shuffle in that direction more than a hard left turn. This is a good thing. Sportiness has its value but would do this car an injustice, comfort and ease of driving being key factors in this purchasing decision.

Among other things, buyers also like the QX60 for its style, which has been updated slightly for 2016. I can’t really get behind it but have had more than one person tell me I’m wrong on this count. The new LED DRLs and indicators are elegant, the new grill ties the QX60 back to the latest generation of Infiniti’s design language.

New contrasted stitching adds elegance to the interior, as does a new maple wood grain offering in the upper trims. Quilted seat bases are a nice touch to the already comfortable and aesthetically pleasing heated front seats. The new gear shift is elegant and pleasing to both the eye and the hand as well.

People like the three-row functionality, including the fact the second row can be slid forward for access even with a child seat installed. Access is the same from both sides, and the second row slides forward a generous 5.5 inches. I’ve certainly had no problem getting into the back seat. There’s a trio of USB ports back there to keep the kiddies happy too.

New for 2016, laminated side glass helps keep wind noise to a minimum, giving the cabin an extra dose of comfort and relaxation over the outgoing model.

Perhaps the biggest change is the expansion of the QX60’s driver aids, including rear collision prevention braking. We tested it and found it worked well, halting the QX60 even as I tried to murder the two orange cones with the rear bumper. I’ll get them one day – and their little dog too.

The QX60 now also comes with Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection and Predictive Forward Collision warning that looks “through” the car in front in addition to available lane departure prevention, distance control (adaptive cruise control), blind spot monitoring and the around-view parking monitor.

This top-down 360 degree camera is extremely useful when parking and helps given the three rows of seating hamper rearward visibility. We can’t speak highly enough of the around-view system.

There are five available trims, the base, with HID lights, rear-view camera and 18-inch wheels gives way to Premium, which adds Bose premium audio, navigation and the around-view monitor.

Adding the Drivers Assistance Package gets you the blind-spot monitor, adaptive cruise control (distance control), forward-collision warning, and back-up collision intervention.

Deluxe Touring models get a further upgrade to the audio system, 20-inch wheels, a second-row moonroof and heated seats, while the top trim Deluxe Touring and Tech models get all that plus Intelligent Cruise Control with a full-speed range to zero, blind-spot warning, back-up collision intervention, distance control, active trace control, eco pedal, lane-departure prevention, blind-spot intervention, forward emergency braking and predictive forward collision warning plus dual 7-inch colour monitors, two wireless headphones, wireless remote control, auxiliary audio/video input jacks, 120V power outlet and rear headphone jacks with volume control.

Hybrid models are available in Base, Premium, and Deluxe Touring and Tech trims.

The QX60 is manufactured in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Pricing: 2016 Infiniti QX60
QX60 Base: $47,400
QX60 Premium: $52,400
QX60 Premium, Driver Assistance: $54,600
QX60 Premium, Deluxe Touring: $56,900
QX60 Premium, Driver Assistance, Deluxe Touring & Technology (includes Theatre): $61,400
QX60 Hybrid Premium: $57,900
QX60 Hybrid Premium, Theatre, Driver Assistance, Deluxe Touring & Technology: $66,900 CAD

The QX60 is the best-selling Infiniti here in Canada with 3,863 units sold last year. 3/8/2016 6:50:13 AM