2022 Infiniti QX60 First Drive - What is Style Worth to You?
Like the Nissan Pathfinder it shares its bones with, the 2022 Infiniti QX60 is redone for 2022.
Infiniti folks try to shy away from the Pathfinder references and comparisons because it’s their job to sell consumers on the differences, as well as why one should pay more for the QX60 when it’s mechanically a Pathfinder.
Never mind that most car buyers, regardless of their level of industry knowledge, know that Infinitis are Nissans in fancier clothing, just like Lexus with Toyota and Acura with Honda. Luxury-car shoppers know this and don’t care – they are spending bigger bucks on the luxury brands for some combination of the following reasons: Standard features, available features, the dealer experience, interior materials, and styling.
I can’t speak to the dealer experience, but Infiniti has gotten the differentiation right when it comes to the rest of that list, especially the styling and materials. As for the feature and content mix, well, that’s going to come down to what you’re willing to spend.
(Full disclosure: Infiniti flew me to Napa Valley and gave me a branded COVID mask, in addition to feeding me and putting me up in a very nice hotel. They offered a custom hat and some locally-made olive oil, neither of which I took, though I did participate in a tasting of the oil and it was good. We also did a short wine tasting after driving. They also gave us tours of the olive oil producer’s mill and a vineyard full of priceless art.)
Despite its Nissan roots, the QX60 looks almost completely different, with the tailgate being the only obviously recognizable part from the Pathy, and only then if you squint and know what to look for.
It also drives differently. While it likely weighs roughly the same (Infiniti’s spec sheet doesn’t list a curb weight as of yet), it felt a bit lighter on the road and nimbler in cornering when traversing the (mostly gently) curving rural roads between Napa Valley and the Pacific Ocean. Tossing it into Sport mode made the festivities a bit more fun.
Fun being relative, of course – it’s still a three-row crossover. You won’t be dive-bombing corners like a wannabe Andretti. But should you encounter a winding road, the QX60 will feel plenty competent, with muted body roll and steering that feels a bit artificially weighted but nevertheless allows for easy, accurate placement of the front wheels.
The ride is luxury-appropriate – compliant without being soft. The caveat here is that California roads are generally in great shape. There was one stretch of broken pavement that created a lot of noise but most wiggles and jiggles were filtered out well enough.
It’s a MacPherson strut setup in front and multilink independent in the rear – essentially the same as what the Nissan offers.
Our test units were pre-production models, and I did catch some minor noise/vibration/harshness issues. There were some vibrations and rattles, but they were mostly quiet and easily drowned out by the radio. Again, the pre-production builds may have been at fault. Otherwise, wind and road noise were mostly well-muted, with the cabin being quiet and peaceful.
Acceleration from the 3.5-liter V6 (295 horsepower, 270 lb-ft of torque) is fine for most urban and suburban use cases, though you won’t blow anyone’s doors off. The power for passing or merging is more than adequate.
Power gets to the wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission instead of a CVT, and thank goodness for that. This transmission is generally well-behaved, though it got confused on a shift at least once. I was in Sport mode, started to accelerate through a long sweeping corner, then had to lift suddenly as the road turned to reveal a small residential area. This sudden change of heart on my part gave the transmission some fits, as it wasn’t sure which gear to be in, but otherwise, it worked well throughout my day with the car.
There are paddle shifters, should you choose to use them.
The QX60 is more of a head-turner than the blander Pathfinder, with curvy lines inside and out. The front, especially, is true Infiniti, with the slanting-eyebrow headlights and the big grille in front of a raked hood. The side profile shows hints of Pathfinder but the lines appear much curvier, making a distinction between the two vehicles.
As per usual, the tacked-on infotainment screen bugged me (please, designers, stop with this, especially in otherwise stylish rides), and I found it surprisingly tricky to quickly tune a new XM station. On the other hand, the rest of the HVAC controls worked well enough, with knobs for radio volume and temperature. The shifter is weird-looking but the learning curve isn’t particularly steep – you get used to using it quickly.
I also found the digital gauges easy to read and use. I still find that it’s trickier to activate the available ProPilot Assist than it should be, as it requires fumbling with the smart cruise control first, but I found that the driver-assist system seemed to work better than during past experiences I’ve had with it. Of course, well-marked and maintained roads helped with that – the system, at least in prior uses, has seemed to struggle when lane lines aren’t marked well. I will keep this in mind for my next at-home test.
Parents, take note – like the Pathfinder, the QX60 has a neat system that allows the second-row seats to spring forward with one touch, and with car seats in place. Though the brand reminds us not to use the system with actual kids in place, and apparently, the system won’t work if there’s too much weight detected in the seat.
As for the third row, I got back there OK, and legroom was acceptable for my tall frame, but exiting wasn’t dignified for an adult of my size. Skirt/kilt wearers should especially think twice. Headroom was a tad tight, too.
So, I found the QX60 to be a bit better on-road than the Pathfinder it shares its bones with, and better looking, and better appointed, with class-appropriate materials (though some cheaper stuff sneaks in, mostly on touchpoints that are below the beltline). The money question though, quite literally, is this: Is it worth the extra scratch?
For some, the dealer experience or the brand name alone will make the QX worth it. Others will want standard or available features that are only on the Infiniti, or they’ll pay the premium for the styling.
For everyone else, the calculation is trickier. Consider the car I drove – a top-trim Autograph with all-wheel-drive. That’s $63,250, and the paint job added $695, plus another $1,025 for D and D. It included hill-start assist, 20-inch wheels, black contrast roof, 12.3-inch infotainment screen, nav, head-up display (10.8 inches), power tilt/telescope steering column, power panoramic moonroof, a motion-activated power liftgate, heated steering wheel, heated and cooled massaging front seats, heated second-row seats, removable second-row center console, and ProPilot Assist with navigation link, steering assist, speed-limit assist, speed adjustment by route, and smart cruise control.
Other features included Bose audio, wireless cell-phone charging, wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi hotspot, predictive forward-collision warning, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive front lighting with auto-leveling, high-beam assist, lane-departure warning, lane-departure prevention, blind-spot warning, blind-spot intervention, 360-degree camera, rear automatic braking, and rear cross-traffic alert.
Is all that worth the premium over a loaded Pathy? You make the call. To me, the Luxe seems to strike the best balance of price and equipment, with the Sensory also allowing you to get a lot of good content without going crazy.
The non-Autograph trims are Pure, Luxe, and Sensory, with Pure starting at $46,850. AWD is a $2K option on all but Autograph – there, it costs $2,900.
Standard with the base model car are 18-inch wheels and six USB ports, plus blind-spot warning, LED lighting, and tri-zone climate control. The Luxe model gets you 20-inch wheels, roof rails, ProPilot, climate-controlled front seats, and some of the driver-aid systems.
If you want the massaging seats, heated second-row seats, power third-row seats, wireless cell-phone charging, Bose audio, and a power liftgate, step up to Sensory.
Other available options, depending on trim, include a Performance Audio Package, Vision Package (adaptive front lighting and the head-up display, plus rear-view mirror camera), Tow Package, and different levels of premium paint.
Towing capacity starts at 3,500 pounds and can go to 6,000. Fuel economy, meanwhile, is listed at 20/25/22 with AWD and 21/26/23 with front-drive.
We already asked if the QX60 is worth it over the Pathfinder. That question isn’t unique to Infiniti – Acura and Lexus buyers also ask if the MDX and RX are worth more money than a Honda or Toyota. And there’s a second question that all QX60 intenders need to ask – is the vehicle better than the competition?
It’s not quite as fun to drive as the Acura MDX, though it’s not a slouch. Its third row feels more accessible than that of the extended-length Lexus RX. Furthermore, Lexus’ other three-row offerings are more truckish and not really in the competitive set.
Those who prioritize fun-to-drive might be better suited to the Acura. For style, though, the QX might be the right choice.
Infiniti, like Nissan, is in a bit of a comeback mode after seeming to lose the plot. The 2022 QX60 is the latest in a long line of vehicles from both brands that show progress. Infiniti is heading in the right direction, but there’s a way to go.
Here, the pros are on-road dynamics, attractive looks, and a few clever tricks. Oh, and the ditching of the CVT. The cons mostly relate to the price tag, especially if the top-trim is on your mind.
It all makes for a well-rounded package that puts Infiniti closer to where it needs to be, if not all the way there.
[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]
DC Bruce on Sep 08, 2021
SH-AWD has trickled down from the MDX to the Pilot/Passport, they just call it by another name. For the moment, the MDX is on a unique, new platform; but that will change next year when the Pilot/Passport move to that platform. Later this year, the MDX will be offered with the new 3-liter turbocharged engine (as an option). No word if that eventually will be available on the Pilot.
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