2016 Infiniti QX60 Rental Review - What Exactly Is This Thing?
There’s much talk in the automotive world about luxury. Companies are seemingly always redefining it, according to their clever ad campaigns. Luxury is something to which we aspire, a vague idea that is difficult to define. But, much like pornography, we know it when we see it.
I’ve seen the 2016 Infiniti QX60, and whatever luxury is, this ain’t it.
The QX60 is what we used to call the JX35 in the pre-de Nysschen madness days at Infiniti — and no, I didn’t remember that either.
It’s Infiniti’s entry in the three-row CUV market, based on the same platform as the Nissan Pathfinder. I picked it off the Executive Aisle at Logan International, because the budget car company that I had planned to use for this reservation was closed by the time my much-delayed Delta (Doesn’t Ever Leave The Airport) flight arrived in Boston well past 1:00 a.m. It was parked in the very first spot that wasn’t a “Premium SUV ” space, right next to a QX80 (whatever the hell that is). I figured this was likely a mistake, but I grabbed it anyway and prepared to plead my case with the booth attendant.
Since it was 1:30 a.m., he didn’t give a single fuck. Yay! Off to Sturbridge, Massachusetts, where I would be staying at a Hampton Inn courtesy of the fine folks at American Endurance Racing.
I had been hired (disclosure: this means they paid me cash) to be the Facebook Live administrator for the series’ second race weekend of the season, since our own Black Betty wasn’t going to be making the journey to New England. This meant I was free to roam around the pits all weekend, interviewing drivers, filming race action, and just generally having a blast. It’s amazingly stress-free to be at a race when you’re not actually racing.
That also meant I had a two-hour commute each way to and from the airport to Palmer Motorsports Park, so I was initially quite glad that I’d been able to score a luxury car for the price of a Chrysler 200. Well, that was until I had to drive it.
Ignore my yellow racing suit balled up in the footwell, there. At first glance, the interior of the QX60 seems pleasant enough. The driver’s seat provides decent support and plenty of adjustability. Forward visibility is just fine, as well. The steering wheel, while not perhaps what one might call luxurious, was passable to the touch. The infotainment … well, we’ll get there.
Let’s talk about what it’s like to drive the QX60. It’s straight up garbage. It’s so bad that it’s hard to fathom how it ever passed any quality assurance testing. The motor, the completely unloved 3.5 liter VQ35DE, is as raucous and rough as it ever was in the 350Z. It sounds even worse than the 3.7-liter motor that I previously described in the 370Z as sounding “like it was being simultaneously strangled and flogged with a Cat O’ Nine Tails.” I’d describe this one as sounding more like it was being choked with a tablespoon full of cinnamon. Just disgusting.
But with that motor in it, generating a stated 265 horsepower, I figured that at least it would be fast. Not so much.
The pairing of that motor to Nissan’s CVT is a match made in the seventh circle of Hell. Throttle inputs are treated with complete disdain by the CVT, as though you were interrupting it doing something much more important than converting all that revolting engine noise into forward motion. Infiniti claims a 0-60 mile per hour time of 8.6 seconds, but I think that only occurs when something is chasing the QX60 — perhaps a large scary dog. In real-world driving, it’s the slowest three-row vehicle I can remember driving.
Perhaps it handles well, then? Again, that would be a no. Body roll is significant in any corner taken with even the mildest indication of aggression, creating a bit of a seasick sensation. I don’t expect a three-row CUV to handle like a Lotus, so I can’t be that mad at Infiniti. However, the ride quality isn’t as forgiving as you’d expect from a car with such a squishy suspension, either. It’s hard to think of a single thing that the QX60 does well from a driving experience standpoint.
All that being said, the most egregiously offensive feature of the QX60 has to be the infotainment system. I think it was sourced from RadioShack. Nothing about it is even mildly intuitive. I was 99-percent sure that it wasn’t a touchscreen, just because the resolution was so bad that I was positive that it was a leftover from 2012, but then I tried touching the screen out of pure frustration and — Lo! — something happened! Of course, it still couldn’t recognize Spotify, the ESPN app, or anything like that without repeated disconnection and reconnection of my iPhone 6S. When it finally did, I had to doublecheck to make sure that I wasn’t in a 1990 Volkswagen Fox, because the stereo system was so lacking in sound quality that it actually angered me a bit. Nothing resembling bass was produced, nor was it anything one could describe as clear. It’s truly a wretched system.
This is all the storage space you get with the third row seats up. Good luck getting anything like a full-sized suitcase back there. That strangely large-looking black bag is my carry-on bag, and that is a helmet bag next to it. Really, I’m not joking.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “So, how about some positives, you negative nelly?” Fine. It’s actually a rather attractive vehicle. The contours are pleasing to look at, and I thought the color was a lovely blueish-gray. The wheels are stylish, too. I think Infiniti also has the best looking grille of any of the “luxury” CUVs. It’s certainly a more handsome look than the gaping maw on the Lexus RX. Interior seating space is not terrible. I like that the second row of seats slides back and forth to accommodate those who might have to squeeze into the third row.
That’s all I’ve got. Sorry.
Now, here’s the real humiliating kick in the crotch. This abomination retails at a starting price of over $42,000. I’m sorry, let me check. That can’t be right. Nope, it is. On what planet would you pay $42,000 for this … whatever it is, when the Ford Flex and Toyota Highlander exist?
The Infiniti QX60 only exists so that suburban SAHMs can have a “luxury” brand CUV for less money than a genuinely luxurious vehicle in the same class would cost. As the great Daryl Hall once said, I can’t go for that.
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