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Infiniti QX60: Seven-Passenger Crossover

By Frank A. Aukofer, May 30th, 2015

It's rare that an automaker engages in a wholesale renaming of its products but in the case of Infiniti it's intended to jump start the brand.

Some people are still trying to figure out the new nomenclature. It seems that popular-priced vehicles and very expensive luxury and performance cars get real names while the "tweeners," especially the familiar luxury ones, use numbers and letters.

A buyer can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a Bentley Mulsanne or Lamborghini Aventador, or buy a low-bucks Chevrolet Spark, Ford Fiesta, or Jeep Renegade. But between the goalposts over at BMW are such models as the X1 xDrive28i or the new X5 xDrive40e plug-in hybrid. Mercedes-Benz will be happy to sell you a GLA 45 AMG 4Motion.

If you're out shopping for a midsize, near-luxury seven-passenger crossover utility vehicle (CUV), you could be forgiven if you overlooked the new Infiniti QX60, which comes from the luxury division of Japan's Nissan.

Before Infiniti launched its new naming strategy, the QX60 was simply the JX, built off the same platform as the Nissan Pathfinder. It's Infiniti's biggest CUV. Step up to the QX80 and you get a huge SUV built with a body-on-frame like a truck. (CUVs use unit body construction, like cars.)

With its three rows of seats to accommodate seven passengers, the QX60 competes against the likes of the Acura MDX, the best-selling of the luxury CUVs, along with the Volvo XC90 and the Lexus GX.

Though classified as a midsize, it's a big vehicle with lots of room to stretch out in the front- and second-row seats. In the third row, not so much. Fortunately, the second-row seats have about 6 inches of horizontal travel so you can divvy the knee room between the third and second rows. You can access the third row by sliding the second row seat forward, even with an infant seat installed.

There's about 16 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, which is similar to what you'd get in a midsize to large sedan. But if you don't routinely need the third row for seating, you can simply fold it and enjoy 53 cu.-ft. of cargo space.

The QX60 gets its power from a 265-horsepower V-6 engine that develops 248 lb.-ft. of torque, or twisting force, which delivers that rapid surge off the line felt mainly in the shoulder blades. It gets the power to all four wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which works well but is disdained by some motoring critics.

Nissan, Infiniti's parent, does more CVTs than any manufacturer. Unlike conventional automatic transmissions -- or even the newer dual clutch automated manual gearboxes -- a CVT uses a system of belts and sliding pulleys to multiply the engine's power. It results in seamless acceleration with no hiccup shift point; sort of like the 1949 Buick Dynaflow, if you can remember back that far back or know how to use Google.

Some critics deride CVTs because, in some cases, it feels as if the transmission is slipping as the engine revolutions soar during acceleration. But Nissan has eliminated much of the sensation by building in computer-controlled artificial downshift points.

The tested QX60 3.5 AWD came with a starting price of $44,795. With a raft of options, including just about everything anyone would expect in a modern luxury CUV, the suggested price topped out at $56,090. The list is extensive but includes forward collision warning and rear collision intervention, lane departure warning, and blind spot intervention.

Comfort features include automatic climate control, remote starting, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, memory power seats, navigation with Infiniti's overhead Around View monitoring, streaming audio, entertainment and connectivity. In short, just about everything available for the hip luxury customer.

The Infiniti QX60 competes well in its class. Whether it sells depends mainly on individual tastes.

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