Normally, when you test drive a new vehicle at a dealership, it's a 30- to 60-minute process. And don't think auto manufacturers don't know that. Cars and trucks are consequently designed to blind you with "love at first sight."
When you test drive vehicles for a living, it becomes apparent that you need several days — maybe even a week — to take the full measure of a car or truck. The Tennessee-made Infiniti QX60 seven-passenger SUV is an example of a vehicle that makes a good first impression and then becomes even more endearing after several days of use.
This phenomenon has mostly to do with comfort: How do the seats feel after a long commute? Does the exterior paint show dust? How easy is it to move the second-row seats fore and aft? Does the vehicle have idiosyncrasies that drive you crazy or little luxuries that make you smile?
After a week on Chattanooga roads in our Hagane Blue Infiniti QX60 tester, I went from mildly impressed to solidly enthusiastic. The more I sank into the leather seats and rested my right elbow on the pillowy center stack and drank in the quiet isolation of the cabin, the more I could see making the QX60 a primary family vehicle.
For 2016, Infiniti has redesigned the QX60's signature grille, added extra sound-deadening materials, fortified the engine mounts and generally perfected the details of a cruiser that is the best-selling model in the Infiniti fleet for 2016, edging out the popular Q50 sedan.
QX60s like our tester are available locally at Infiniti of Chattanooga on Lee Highway. Earlier this week, the dealership had an abundant supply of 2016 QX60s in stock in a price range of about $44,000 to $56,000. Our top-of-the-line, all-wheel-drive tester has a sticker price of $58,845 before discounts.
Richard Maddox, new car sales manager at Infiniti Chattanooga, said the QX60 is the top-selling model at the local Infiniti dealership and appeals especially to female buyers looking for a stylish alternative to mini-vans. Maddox said special, 1.9-percent interest-rate loans currently being offered by Infiniti on the QX60 are resulting in robust sales.
The QX60, like the mechanically similar Nissan Pathfinder, is assembled up I-24 in Smyrna, Tenn.
STYLING AND FEATURES
To our eyes, the QX60 is one of the most attractive three-row SUVs on the roads today. Like all modern Infinitis, it has a chiseled fascia and an abundance of character lines in the sheet metal that turn what is essentially a box on wheels into a pleasingly fluid shape.
New for 2016 are more stern headlights and a redesigned fascia that flows elegantly into an aggressively sculpted hood.
Inside is where the QX60 really separates itself from the competition. Every place your hands fall, there's a soft-touch surface with superior tactile design. The dash is a good example of simple elegance blending padded surfaces with maple wood accents.
Meanwhile, the second-row seats travel fore and aft more than 5 inches to adjust passenger leg room as needed. Both second- and third-row seat-backs recline for those times when your soccer kids need post-game naps on their way home from tournaments.
Our tester came with about $14,000 in options, including lots of safety tech and enhanced electronics.
The $6,900 Deluxe Technology Package includes blind-spot monitoring, back-up collision intervention, forward emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, 20-inch aluminum wheels and a second- and third-row moonroof. For $1,850, add a DVD entertainment system. The premium-plus package ($2,900) includes navigation, an 8-inch touch screen, an around-view camera for tight parking, and rain-sensing wipers. And finally, the premium package ($1,800) offers a 13-speaker Bose sound system, power side mirrors, heated steering wheel and remote engine start.
The QX60 is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that makes 265 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. Zero-to-60 mph sprints should be accomplished in about 9 seconds in all-wheel-drive models.
In a week of commuting, the QX60 proved to have a composed ride, and the CVT exhibited none of the troublesome drone often associated with gearless transmissions. The CVT also contributes to respectable fuel economy stats, 26 mpg highway and 19 mpg city.
The QX60 — which competes alongside the Acura MDX, Volvo XC90 and BMW X5 — is also a practical vehicle, offering 76 cubic feet of storage space with the second- and third-row seats leveled. There's about 15 cubic feet of space behind the third row.
If you are in the market for an upscale mini-van replacement, the QX60 offers seven-passenger luxury with the ground clearance and all-wheel-drive capacity of an SUV. Its design is both stylish and tasteful, and the plush interior makes it one of the most comfortably-furnished crossovers on the market.