Sunday, April 9, 2017


If you do a Google search for the word “inexpensive,”  the first synonym that comes up is “cheap.”

I’m here to say they don’t mean the same thing.

For instance, the 2017 QX60, a luxury midsize SUV from Infiniti, is inexpensive when compared to some of its competitors. But it’s not cheap by any means. Far from it.

Cheap would indicate the luxury arm of Japanese automaker Nissan had cut corners, used lower grade materials, and did just enough to get by when it introduced the vehicle under the JX35 nameplate as a 2013 model. It did not.

Rebadged the QX60 for 2014 under the company’s new naming policy, it offers all the amenities shoppers expect — no, demand — from the segment, with all the comfort and eye-pleasing design touches like maple interior trim and a console that has two levers to allow access to a shallow compartment for keys and door openers and another deeper one for larger objects like a camera.

And it comes with a base MSRP of $43,100 plus the destination and delivery charge of $995, leaving well under the $45,000 threshold. It’s slso a chunk of change well under that of all but a handful of its competitors in the class.

Standard equipment included in that price are a 3.5-liter, V6 engine that has been juiced up to 295 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque from the 265/248 of the 2016 model, a continuously variable transmission (CVT), leather appointed seats, 8-way power driver’s seat with manual lumbar adjustment, leather-wrapped shift nob and steering wheel, tri-zone (left, right, rear) climate control, HID headlights and LED fog lights, 8-inch color information display, rearview monitor, voice recognition for audio and Bluetooth, push-button start, a power moonroof, and a raft of safety features that results in an overall five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To get more of the good stuff, yes, you’re going to have to delve into options and packages that are going to run the price up. In fact, a Premium Package (two-way power lumbar, heated steering wheel, remote engine start, etc.), Premium Plus Package (Infiniti InTouch with navigation, etc.), Theater Package (dual 8-inch rear-monitors for video playback, etc.), and Deluxe Technology Package (20-inch aluminum alloy wheels, Bose cabin-surround sound system, Intelligent cruise control, motion-activated rear liftgate, etc.) ran the total MSRP for my test QX60 to $58,245, which still is below base price for others in its class.

Remember, inexpensive, but not cheap!

Among other attributes, the QX60 seats seven with remarkable space for those relegated to the third row. With 30.8 inches of legroom, a couple of adults can easily fit back there, and second-row occupants have enough room (a maximum 41.7 inches of legroom) to move their seats forward to make life easier for those in the third row. Access to the far back also is quite good. You simply pull a knob on the back of the second row seats and they slide forward and you step in. The seats flip back into position easily as well.

The downside is that cargo space behind that third row is a somewhat meager. With all seats in place, stowage is listed at 15.8 cubic feet, hardly the size of a good-sized sedan trunk. Flip those third-row seats forward and the space increases to 40.8 cubic feet.

The infotainment systems is remarkably user friendly. Don’t like to use a touchscreen or the rotary knob for various selections? No worry. Duplicate buttons, including knobs to adjust audio sound levels and surf the dial, are there as well. There are plenty of USB ports, one in the console and three in the back, for charging your devices.

Though I’m not a big fan of CVTs, I found the QX60s performance adequate for the class. No, it’s not a Porsche Cayenne, but it’s not a slug either. You can adjust the transmission for Standard, Sport, Eco, or Snow mode, and I found leaving it in Sport resulted in somewhat livelier responses.

The website clocked an all-wheel-drive version of the QX60 from zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. That won’t give you whiplash, but it’s not going to have you banging the steering wheel for more speed.

The upside comes with fuel mileage ratings of 20 miles-per-gallon city, 27 highway, and 22 combined, among the best of the non-hybrids in the segment. Premium fuel is recommended for top performance, so why go chintzy?

The ride itself is quiet and smooth. I found the QX60 to handle normal road bumps quite well, and it was particularly at home for highway cruising. At the same time, it’s not overly big to cause you any concerns when it comes to navigation shopping mall parking lots.

What I liked about the 2017 Infiniti QX60: Technological functions are plentiful and very user friendly. You can use a rotary knob to adjust the cursor, use the hard-wired buttons on the center stack, or the touchscreen. (Touchscreen is not the best choice.) Response to voice commands also was good.

What I didn’t like about the 2017 Infiniti QX60: Storage is limited when all seats are in place. That’s the curse of three-row SUVs.

Would I buy the 2017 Infiniti QX60? I don’t have a need for a three-row SUV, but if I did, I would have this one on my shopping list. I’d had to overcome my antipathy toward CVTs, but this one has more the feel of an automatic than any I have encountered. The test model didn’t come with paddle shifters, but you can select corresponding gear ratios via the console shifter.

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