2016 Infiniti QX60 3.5 AWD Deluxe Technology

2016 Infiniti QX60 3.5 AWD Deluxe Technology

Loads of mid-cycle improvements make for a much better luxury utility 2016 Infiniti QX60 3.5 AWD Deluxe Technology

The QX60 is an important vehicle for Infiniti and the luxury SUV market overall, with extremely strong sales for the premium brand and near top placement in its seven-occupant segment.

Wanting to keep things fresh Infiniti has given the QX60 a number of small mid-cycle adjustments for 2016 that have actually resulted in significant changes to styling, interior refinement and driving dynamics. The brand’s new trademark grille is most noticeable, its rounded lower section more appealing and mesh insert bringing a sportiness that was lacking before, but possibly even more important to the overall frontal design is how the carryover hood’s beautifully sculpted ridges now visually unite with the reworked lower fascia’s center vent. The look is more cohesive and a lot more assertive, improved upon further by nicely detailed satin silver side vent enclosures surrounding integrated LED fogs. Bookending the grille is a sophisticated set of longer, more angled LED-enhanced HID headlamps, these bending rearward in similar fashion to last year’s model, yet while following the same muscular front fenders they meet up with new side mirrors featuring integrated turn signals.

Changes in back are less obvious but nevertheless effective, including new taillights, also longer, sharper and getting their fill of LEDs, albeit only tied together with one longer chromed applique instead of two. This, along with a reshaped liftgate, makes the SUV’s overall backside appearance more horizontal and therefore wider and more planted, a refreshed bumper cap completing the toned, athletic stance. A rich coat of optional dark Hermosa Blue paint and gorgeous 20-inch multi-spoke machine-finished alloys with gray-painted pockets completed my tester, these wheels standalone options or alternatively part of the as-tested Deluxe Technology package.

2016 Infiniti QX60 3.5 AWD Deluxe Technology

Another sign of that latter upgrade is beautiful maple accent trim inside, which replaced new standard Graphite Weave trim, the dark, opulent glossed hardwood adding classic elegance to the instrument panel, console and doors, although my test model’s light cream/beige Wheat colored dash, console, door and perforated leather upholstery only requires an update to Premium Plus trim. It brightens up the look for a more inviting feel overall, made even airier thanks to a large panoramic sunroof over the rear quarters, also a Deluxe Technology package addition.

Even base QX60s get a new dash top trimmed in French-stitched leather-like composite that improves its look, feel and sound absorption, a hard plastic dash top being the only major detractor from the previous version, although it still doesn’t get soft synthetics under the dash where the knees reside, or on lower door panels. The glove box lid is pliable plastic, mind you, better than some in this segment, plus all of the roof pillars are suitably wrapped in padded fabric, and the QX60’s switchgear remains excellent. Truly, if you don’t feel like you’re living the highlife in this SUV you’re beyond spoiled.

It’s spacious too, with all seven seats capable of accommodating average sized adults. No one should complain about the first two rows as they’re as roomy as anything in the class, while access to the third row is granted via two of the most innovative second-row buckets in the industry, each popping the lower cushion upward as the entire seat slides forward, the design even capable of doing so when a front-facing child safety seat is strapped in place, child removed of course. To maximize third-row legroom it’s best to slide the second-row seats forward slightly, which I did so my medium-build five-foot-eight body felt comfortable in each row. Of note, that panoramic sunroof mentioned earlier helps to make the rearmost quarters feel more open, while side visibility is good and the overall experience improved further with cupholders integrated into each side armrest and even separate USB charging ports.

2016 Infiniti QX60 3.5 AWD Deluxe Technology

The view to the rear-entertainment system’s front seat headrest-mounted seven-inch monitors is somewhat blocked from the second-row headrests, which may cause a kink in the neck after a two-hour movie, but such is a first-world problem your smallest kids will eventually overcome. The controls for the entertainment system can be found on the backside of the front console, along with RCA plugs for gamers, a three-prong 120-volt household-style outlet and another USB port, plus toggles for two-way second-row outboard seat heaters, a set of air vents and a separate panel for adjusting the tri-zone auto HVAC system.

That climate control system is standard, but the entertainment system is part of a standalone $1,850 Theatre package, although the heatable rear seats come with the aforementioned $6,900 Deluxe Technology package that also adds a superb 15-speaker Bose surround sound system, cooled front seats, beautiful quilted leather on the first two rows, active trace control to improve handling, adaptive cruise control with full-speed range, loads of active safety kit like blind spot monitoring with intervention, backup collision intervention, lane departure warning with automated lane change prevention, predictive forward collision warning and pedestrian detection with autonomous forward emergency braking (new this year), and front pre-crash seatbelts, all helping the QX60 earn IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus status (the base SUV achieves an NHTSA five-star rating).

2016 Infiniti QX60 3.5 AWD Deluxe Technology

What’s more, this upgrade includes 50/50-split power folding third-row seats that expand the QX60’s already accommodating 15.8 cubic-foot cargo compartment to 40.8 cubic feet, whereas lowering the 60/40-split second row results in 76.5 cubic feet of load hauling capacity. The cargo area is nicely finished too, with high-quality carpeting, chrome tie-down hooks, and brushed aluminum protector plates, plus there’s a deep storage area hidden below the cargo floor, mine partially filled with a Bose Acoustic Wave subwoofer.

Along with all of the above my tester included the $1,800 Premium package that features enhanced Intelligent Key, remote start, entry/exit assist for the steering wheel and driver’s seat plus two-way powered lumbar support, two-way driver’s side memory, a heatable steering wheel rim, reverse tilt-down side mirrors, roof rails and more, while the $2,900 Premium Plus package added rain-sensing wipers, a one-inch larger eight-inch color infotainment system with navigation, NavTraffic with real-time traffic information, NavWeather, Infiniti Connection telematics with a one-year subscription, voice recognition, a 360-degree Around View parking monitor with moving object detection, Bluetooth streaming media, and more.

2016 Infiniti QX60 3.5 AWD Deluxe Technology

Without running down all of the QX60’s standard and available features, some base items not yet mentioned include new 18-inch alloys, power-folding heatable side mirrors, proximity access, pushbutton ignition, aluminum doorsill plates, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage door opener, a powered tilt and telescopic steering column, a beautiful new leather-wrapped, metal and glossy logo-adorned shift lever shared with the new 2017 Q60 sports coupe, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, three-way heatable front seats, leather upholstery, powered front seats, a full-color multi-information display, a rearview camera, satellite radio, Bluetooth, a powered front sunroof, a powered liftgate, all the usual active and passive safety features and much more.

All-wheel drive is optional, bringing the QX60’s $42,600 base price up to $44,400, while only Majestic White adds a $500 paint charge so therefore my tester, filled to the brim with all packages came to $57,850 plus freight and dealer fees, which remains excellent value despite all the updates already noted.

Along with all the improvements the QX60 also drives better. The standard 24-valve, DOHC 3.5-liter V6 still produces an identical 265 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque while remaining wonderfully refined due in part to continuously variable valve timing and microfinished camshafts, and the continuously variable transmission it connects to is just as smooth and effortless as last year’s iteration, but seems to provide performance that’s even closer to the feel of a regular automatic. It comes complete with manual mode that I only used for testing purposes yet its driver selectable settings were almost always dialed to Sport, being that it enhanced performance without upsetting its silky character. The CVT aids fuel economy too, the QX60 claimed to achieve a very good 19 mpg city, 26 highway and 22 combined rating in as-tested AWD or 21 city, 27 highway and 23 combined with FWD. If you want better Infiniti offers a hybrid version that reportedly achieves 26 mpg combined in either drive configuration.

2016 Infiniti QX60 3.5 AWD Deluxe Technology

An even bigger change can be felt in the QX60’s suspension setup, now better sorted for a sportier feel without marring its ride quality one iota. This means it takes to corners with a lot more surety, maintaining its lane when pushed hard and generally feeling more in tune with the rest of Infiniti’s performance-oriented yet still luxuriantly comfortable lineup. The big Infiniti has always been an ideal choice for a road trip, its highway stability excellent and noise levels low, while its max tow weight continues to be bullish at 5,000 lbs, the new one is just more fun during those rare occasions that a winding roadway isn’t blocked by a big rig or slow moving RV.

I have no complaints, only a warning that you should probably choose black instead of the light beige upholstery if you wear blue jeans regularly, as the driver’s seat had already started to discolor.

2016 Infiniti QX60 3.5 AWD Deluxe Technology

If Infiniti has an Achilles heal it’s prospective dependability, the brand ranking 10th out of 12 premium brands in Consumer Report’s 2016 report card on reliability and eighth out of 12 in J.D. Power’s latest Vehicle Dependability Study, although it earned an above average score in J.D. Power’s latest Initial Quality Study, but only slightly above average with a ranking of six out of 13 (there’s an extra comparative model in the IQS because the Jaguar brand now offers enough models for entry).

Bringing credence to these third-party analytical firms’ findings was an initial quality problem experienced first hand, the rear driver-side reflector falling off during my test week. Fortunately I saw it was askew and, when attempting to push it back into place had it drop right into my hands. I temporarily replaced it for some of the photos (although not all), but had to remove it again for the drive back to Infiniti’s detailer. In fairness this is the first time I’ve experienced any type of problem after 15-plus years of weeklong Infiniti tests.

This would hardly put me off purchasing a QX60 if my needs required a seven-passenger SUV, as it’s otherwise better than ever and overall value proposition still difficult to beat.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press; Photo credits: Trevor Hofmann and Karen Tuggay, American Auto Press; Copyright: American Auto Press.

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