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2016 INFINITI QX70
New Car Test Drive

Introduction

The Infiniti QX70 is a luxurious midsize crossover SUV that offers sporty driving dynamics, sleek, coupe-like looks, and classy interior appointments. The QX70 comes with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

Formerly called the FX, this second-generation version was introduced as a 2009 model and was renamed QX70 for 2014. Little has changed for the 2016 model year, and it is aging.

One of the most driver-focused crossovers on the market, the QX70 not only looks sporty, it feels exactly that way on the road. Benefitting from a frisky powertrain, it’s one of few crossover models that feels right at home when easing expertly through mountain curves. Part of the reason is that it is rear-wheel drive and shares some of its basic structure with the Nissan Z sports car.

Like the BMW X5, the QX70 is not especially space-efficient. Instead, it ranks among the best-executed merging of sleek lines with wagon practicality, flaunting sumptuous body sheetmetal below its rakish roofline.

Despite the QX70’s many virtues, a few flaws temper its appeal. The back seat is short on head and leg room, and an overabundance of buttons might annoy. Gas mileage is nothing to brag about, either. Furthermore, the price to be paid for such satisfying handling is a firm ride. With optional low-profile tires, it can turn into choppiness on urban Interstates.

Nissan’s 3.7-liter V6 is a great engine, the same as what’s found in the Z, but it isn’t quite as smooth as some. With 325 horsepower, it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in a bit more than seven seconds, not slow but not blazingly quick due to the weight of the QX70. Fitted with a Sport mode and rev-matching, the 7-speed automatic transmission shifts promptly and smoothly.

Technology is a strong point. A QX70 can be equipped with an adaptive suspension, quilted leather upholstery, and heated/ventilated seats. The navigation system has a particularly good interface and display. Rear-seat DVD entertainment is an option.

Infiniti offers an extensive list of standard and available safety equipment. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the QX70 its top Good rating for moderate front-overlap and rear impacts.

Model Lineup

The 2016 QX70 ($45,850) comes with leather upholstery, power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless ignition, Bluetooth hands-free phone, universal garage door opener, rearview camera, 18-inch alloy wheels. Infotainment features 11-speaker Bose audio with satellite radio.

QX70 AWD ($47,300) adds all-wheel drive.

Walkaround

Daring when it first appeared, the QX70 continues to exude appeal. Infiniti’s large midsize crossover bridges the gaps between visually enticing, family-friendly, premium amenities, and just plain delightful to drive.

Not only does the QX70 still look contemporary, it barely resembles any other model in its category. Since its 2009 debut as the FX, Infiniti has done nothing to spoil the crossover’s deliberately sculpted body. A few surfaces have cluttered-looking detail work, and front-fender ducts add little to the QX70’s lush appearance, but those are minor quibbles.

Interior

Warm and inviting in appearance, the QX70 cabin is as delightful as its exterior. As with many sports sedans, the QX70 treats front-seat passengers well, delivering fine comfort and snug support. Front seats are suitable for long days of driving, with a seating position that’s low enough to simplify entry/exit.

Back-seat riders can expect to be cramped, however. Both legroom and head clearance are in short supply, parts of the rear seat can feel as snug as those in a sports car, and climbing aboard isn’t so easy.

The cargo hold isn’t too spacious, either, impaired by the curvy body.

Delicate detail work, particularly on the soft leather upholstery, seems more like it belongs in a luxury sedan. Assembly quality is first-rate. Still, occupants can expect to hear some engine and road noise, out of character for a luxury crossover, more like a sports car.

Rich and elegant as the interior materials are, the instrument panel has a cluttered look, due largely to lack of a centralized interface.

Driving Impressions

Built on a sports sedan chassis, the QX70 is one of the best-handling crossover models available today. Poised, sporty handling qualities come at the price of ride comfort and gas mileage.

Acceleration is strong with the 325-horsepower V6, and passing performance is eager. With the transmission in Drive, downshifting doesn’t ordinarily occur until the gas pedal is pushed a bit harder than is customary. At that point, the QX70 emits a raspy sound and almost leaps ahead.

Despite its ample heft, the QX70 handles like a lighter vehicle. Ride quality is firm but devoid of jouncing with the standard 18-inch wheels. With 20- or 21-inch wheels with lower-profile tires, the ride becomes seriously harsh and can even become quite choppy, especially at pavement junctures.

All-wheel drive adds 200 pounds to the QX70’s weight. The AWD system is biased toward the rear wheels, and the QX70 rolls on low-profile tires. So, it’s not a prime choice for snow and ice. Steering feel is less communicative with all-wheel drive, too.

Cabin noise doesn’t meet luxury-crossover standards, and the engine sound is on the coarse side. Because the curvaceous sheetmetal impairs visibility, the available 360-degree, Around View camera is a wise addition.

With rear-wheel drive, the QX70 is EPA-rated at 17/24 mpg City/Highway, or 19 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops the estimates to 16/22 mpg City/Highway, or 18 mpg Combined. Premium gasoline is required.

Summary

While the QX70 suffers from several practical imperfections, they might well be offset by its impressively sporty demeanor on the highway. Though it’s well-equipped, plenty of additional features are available that can send the price past $60,000.

Driving impressions by Kirk Bell, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.


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