2015 Infiniti QX70S RWD Review

Satish Kondapavulur
by Satish Kondapavulur

Fifteen years ago, buying a practical luxury car to replace a Honda Accord meant going down to your BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, or occasionally, Audi showroom and coming back with a 5-Series, E-Class, GS, or if you were particularly brave, an A6. All these brands except Audi had SUVs at the time though, but they were hardly replacements for a midsize luxury sport sedan. The Mercedes ML handled like a truck while the RX300 wasn’t exactly intended for the sport sedan driver, something emphasized by the number of moms and AARP members who bought them at the time. Meanwhile, my dad test drove an X5 and 5-Series back to back and promptly bought a 530i.

But no one fifteen years ago would have considered Infiniti, whose only rear-drive sedan was the full-size Q45, which no one bought. A few years later, Infiniti went through a product renaissance, bringing out the Infiniti G35 (which many people bought), the M (the one based on the JDM Nissan Gloria few people bought), and an updated Q45 (which even fewer people bought). In 2003, they also brought out a sporty crossover – the FX. It was meant to compete with the X5, Porsche Cayenne, and XC90, but the FX was dramatically better on-road than off-road compared to most of its competitors. The FX, despite being smaller and not capable of tackling off-road trails, became a sales success for Infiniti.

And that success influenced its competition. The Cayenne became less off-road oriented, losing its dedicated two-range transfer case and getting much more rounded styling. BMW ended up creating the X6 from the X5. Acura joined the fray with the ZDX. Mercedes is finally entering the “crossover-coupe” market with the GLE Coupe.

Meanwhile, Infiniti now calls the FX the QX70 as part of Infiniti’s new naming system. It was last redesigned in 2008, around the time the X6 was released. The V8 is no longer available. Instead of the rounded trapezoid grille, the grille is now shaped like a wide rounded hourglass with a massive Infiniti emblem in the center.

First off, I cannot complain about the QX70’s performance, especially with the $3,550 Sport Package. Though the active rear steering and continuous damping control features that used to be part of the sport package are gone for 2015, the QX70 handled like any other sport package-equipped midsize luxury sedan. Driving it on the country roads around my house, the QX70 stuck to the road in corners at speeds where most SUVs would begin squealing their tires largely thanks to its black-colored 21-inch Enkei wheels. The 3.7-liter V6 had plenty of power handy while the seven-speed transmission was always selecting the right gear during my period of spirited driving.

The sport package also added to the visual effects of the QX70 with the aforementioned Enkei wheels, a black painted front grille, roof rails, and miscellaneous exterior and interior trim bits. It further included heated and cooled seats with power-adjustable bolsters. However, as good as the Sport Package was on a smooth and winding roads, I didn’t like it on the highway; the ride was compromised by the potholes and uneven pavement surfaces of Northern California’s roads. If you care more for the ride, but want upgraded interior trim and the heated/cooled seats, select the $3,300 Deluxe Touring Package which comes with 20-inch wheels too.

As for the interior, the front seats were very comfortable. I drove the QX70S to Napa from San Jose and back in one day (probably four to five hours of driving total) and I or my passenger didn’t feel stiff at all. An aspect of the seat some potential buyers might dislike is that the lumbar support is only adjustable two ways (forwards and backwards). Hopefully, future QX70 models can correct that. Additionally, thanks to the high seating position, I had a much better view of the road unlike most sedans. However, while the front seats are satisfying, there isn’t enough legroom for rear seat passengers. While the back seats are fine for children, most adults can tolerate sitting in the back of the QX70 for two hours at the most, though adults who are well over six feet won’t like sitting in the back at all. As a result, if you regularly travel with many passengers, getting a larger crossover or a midsize luxury sedan may be a better call.

Another aspect of the interior I noticed was that the trunk doesn’t have much more room than a large sedan thanks to the rakish styling. It would be difficult to fit a normal bicycle inside the interior even with all the rear seats folded down. Despite the lack of cargo space, Infiniti does include a temporary spare tire under the trunk placed around the Bose subwoofer. Additionally, I didn’t like the oval-shaped analog clock in the dashboard, which I thought detracted from the sporty interior theme of the QX70. I’m hoping an updated version of the QX70 will have a much-better designed clock.

When it comes to the onboard toys, which is where most Infinitis shine, the QX70 oddly lacks a few key features like the availability of a blind spot monitoring or warning system. However, my test car had the Lane Departure Warning system, part of the $2.950 Technology Package, which does sound if the wheels go onto the shoulder. When I was driving the QX70 on the highway, I ended up turning off the Lane Departure Warning since whenever I swerved to avoid potholes or uneven pavement surfaces (which happens with regularity on California highways), the alarm would sound. The car was also equipped with Forward Collision Warning, warning me if the car in front suddenly slowed down; and Distance Control Assist, which assessed the gap between me and the car in front. Both features were quite useful.

On the subject of fuel economy, the QX70S didn’t deliver as good numbers as I’d hoped. The EPA figures are 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway with 19 mpg combined for the rear-drive model. All-wheel-drive models are rated at 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway with 18 mpg combined. For a modern crossover with a V6, the QX70 should deliver better numbers, preferably well over 20 mpg combined. Though I managed around 22.5 miles per gallon, indicated by the display in the gauge cluster, that figure was achieved with plenty of highway driving. Once you hit stop-and-go traffic, fuel economy immediately begins to suffer thanks to the amount of fuel needed to sustain all 3.7 liters of that V6.

The price of my rear-drive QX70 test car came to $58,085 with a $995 destination charge, which is in line with most midsize luxury sport sedans that have similar levels of equipment. Considering a six-cylinder BMW X6, Porsche Cayenne, and the upcoming Mercedes GLE Coupe have prices well above $60,000 with a similar level of equipment (though they all have all-wheel-drive standard), the Infiniti is priced very well. Even at its base price of $46,845 including destination, there’s a plenty of standard equipment such as the Bose sound system, the Infiniti Intelligent key, the 10-way power seats, power-folding mirrors, and power liftgate.

In conclusion, if you want something different from the usual Lexus GS or BMW 5-Series, appreciate a high riding height, don’t want to pay the insane prices for a Porsche Cayenne or BMW X6, and don’t need a large three-row luxury SUV like an Acura MDX or Audi Q7, the Infiniti QX70 might fill that gap. It handles very, very well while maintaining a degree of comfort for the driver and lacks the extra weight and complexity of its competitors. In this day and age, it’s now possible to consider a crossover rather than a sport sedan, and the QX70 is a solid choice if you want a tall, well-handling touring vehicle all to yourself.

Infiniti provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gas for the review.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. His current car is an E39 BMW 530i with an automatic transmission, no sports package, and a newly fixed cooling system.





Satish Kondapavulur
Satish Kondapavulur

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  • Lee Lee on Jul 14, 2015

    " fuel economy immediately begins to suffer thanks to the amount of fuel needed to sustain all 3.7 liters of that V6." Umm.. no. Economy begins to suffer because the engine has all that weight to get moving over and over"

  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on Feb 21, 2016

    Having had a 08g35x and a '10 G37s 6mt sedan , I can vouch for reliability, had wheel bearing replaced under the factory warranty on the g37, at 30k , but thats it . For both vehicles. Couldn't say the same for the Bimmers I've owned. Its too bad the q50 is n/a with 6mt... I'll probably pick up a QX50 off lease at some point though.I'd like a turbo 4 in that chassis for commuting MPGs.

  • Stan Reither Jr. Part throttle efficiency was mentioned earlier in a postThis type of reciprocating engine opens the door to achieve(slightly) variable stroke which would provide variable mechanical compression ratio adjustments for high vacuum (light load) or boost(power) conditions IMO
  • Joe65688619 Keep in mind some of these suppliers are not just supplying parts, but assembled components (easy example is transmissions). But there are far more, and the more they are electronically connected and integrated with rest of the platform the more complex to design, engineer, and manufacture. Most contract manufacturers don't make a lot of money in the design and engineering space because their customers to that. Commodity components can be sourced anywhere, but there are only a handful of contract manufacturers (usually diversified companies that build all kinds of stuff for other brands) can engineer and build the more complex components, especially with electronics. Every single new car I've purchased in the last few years has had some sort of electronic component issue: Infinti (battery drain caused by software bug and poorly grounded wires), Acura (radio hiss, pops, burps, dash and infotainment screens occasionally throw errors and the ignition must be killed to reboot them, voice nav, whether using the car's system or CarPlay can't seem to make up its mind as to which speakers to use and how loud, even using the same app on the same trip - I almost jumped in my seat once), GMC drivetrain EMF causing a whine in the speakers that even when "off" that phased with engine RPM), Nissan (didn't have issues until 120K miles, but occassionally blew fuses for interior components - likely not a manufacturing defect other than a short developed somewhere, but on a high-mileage car that was mechanically sound was too expensive to fix (a lot of trial and error and tracing connections = labor costs). What I suspect will happen is that only the largest commodity suppliers that can really leverage their supply chain will remain, and for the more complex components (think bumper assemblies or the electronics for them supporting all kinds of sensors) will likley consolidate to a handful of manufacturers who may eventually specialize in what they produce. This is part of the reason why seemingly minor crashes cost so much - an auto brand does nst have the parts on hand to replace an integrated sensor , nor the expertice as they never built them, but bought them). And their suppliers, in attempt to cut costs, build them in way that is cheap to manufacture (not necessarily poorly bulit) but difficult to replace without swapping entire assemblies or units).I've love to see an article on repair costs and how those are impacting insurance rates. You almost need gap insurance now because of how quickly cars depreciate yet remain expensive to fix (orders more to originally build, in some cases). No way I would buy a CyberTruck - don't want one, but if I did, this would stop me. And it's not just EVs.
  • Joe65688619 I agree there should be more sedans, but recognize the trend. There's still a market for performance oriented-drivers. IMHO a low budget sedan will always be outsold by a low budget SUV. But a sports sedan, or a well executed mid-level sedan (the Accord and Camry) work. Smaller market for large sedans except I think for an older population. What I'm hoping to see is some consolidation across brands - the TLX for example is not selling well, but if it was offered only in the up-level configurations it would not be competing with it's Honda sibling. I know that makes the market smaller and niche, but that was the original purpose of the "luxury" brands - badge-engineering an existing platform at a relatively lower cost than a different car and sell it with a higher margin for buyers willing and able to pay for them. Also creates some "brand cachet." But smart buyers know that simple badging and slightly better interiors are usually not worth the cost. Put the innovative tech in the higher-end brands first, differentiate they drivetrain so it's "better" (the RDX sells well for Acura, same motor and tranmission, added turbo which makes a notable difference compared to the CRV). The sedan in many Western European countries is the "family car" as opposed to micro and compact crossovers (which still sell big, but can usually seat no more than a compact sedan).
  • Jonathan IMO the hatchback sedans like the Audi A5 Sportback, the Kia Stinger, and the already gone Buick Sportback are the answer to SUVs. The A5 and the AWD version of the Stinger being the better overall option IMO. I drive the A5, and love the depth and size of the trunk space as well as the low lift over. I've yet to find anything I need to carry that I can't, although I admit I don't carry things like drywall, building materials, etc. However, add in the fun to drive handling characteristics, there's almost no SUV that compares.
  • C-b65792653 I'm starting to wonder about Elon....again!!I see a parallel with Henry Ford who was the wealthiest industrialist at one time. Henry went off on a tangent with the peace ship for WWI, Ford TriMotor, invasive social engineering, etc. Once the economy went bad, the focus fell back to cars. Elon became one of the wealthiest industrialist in the 21st century. Then he went off with the space venture, boring holes in the ground venture, "X" (formerly Twitter), etc, etc, etc. Once Tesla hit a plateau and he realized his EVs were a commodity, he too is focused on his primary money making machine. Yet, I feel Elon is over reacting. Down sizing is the nature of the beast in the auto industry; you can't get around that. But hacking the Super Charger division is like cutting off your own leg. IIRC, GM and Ford were scheduled to sign on to the exclusive Tesla charging format. That would have doubled or tripled his charging opportunity. I wonder what those at the Renaissance Center and the Glass House are thinking now. As alluded to, there's blood in the water and other charging companies will fill the void. I believe other nations have standardized EV charging (EU & China). Elon had the chance to have his charging system as the default in North America. Now, he's dropped the ball. He's lost considerable influence on what the standardized format will eventually be. Tremendous opportunity lost. 🚗🚗🚗
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