Driven: 2015 Infiniti QX70

The QX70 is a high-tech luxury SUV with sporty aspirations | Infiniti photos
The QX70 is a high-tech luxury SUV with sporty aspirations | Infiniti photos

With its dramatically swelling contours and unique profile, the flamboyant Infiniti QX70 is one of the most distinctive SUVs on the road. Formerly the FX (before Infiniti went Q crazy with its model names), the big crossover SUV continues to meld utility with style and performance.

QX70 is also one of the best driving SUVs out there. The firm suspension and responsive steering bring sporty handling to the equation while Nissan’s ubiquitous 3.7-liter V6 makes plenty of power. People don’t generally shop SUVs for driving fun, but this one should please the Indycar wannabe with a family to haul.

There’s an interesting sensation to driving the QX70 with its long and sculpted hood that makes you feel as if you’re sitting back on the haunches of the SUV, more akin to driving a sporty roadster than a big crossover. That’s certainly different from the upright position of most tall vehicles.

QX70’s sculpted form is highly distinctive
QX70’s sculpted form is highly distinctive

Gone for 2015 is the 5.0-liter V8 that turned the QX70 into a road rocket but took its toll on fuel mileage. Not too many people are likely to miss the V8 since Infiniti didn’t sell a whole lot of them.

The automaker gets a lot of service out of its strong V6 for much of the Nissan/Infiniti lineup, most notably powering the Nissan 370Z sports car. In the QX70, it generates 325 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and a less-impressive 267 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm, which seems a bit peaky for a 4,200-pound crossover. But the QX70 gets off the line and up to speed quickly, and only rarely feels under-muscled.

QX70 comes equipped with a sharp-shifting seven-speed automatic instead of the soupy continuously variable transmissions with which Nissan/Infiniti has saddled so many of its vehicles. CVTs work well enough and return fuel mileage gains, but they just sap the joy out of vehicles for anyone who appreciates the mechanism of driving.

This crossover’s seven gears are a welcomed relief, plus the advantage of adaptive shift control and paddle shifters that are firmly attached in fixed positions on the steering column rather than whirling around with the steering wheel. That is the much-preferred setup and I don’t see why more automakers don’t do it that way.

The 3.7-liter V6 provides decent power
The 3.7-liter V6 provides decent power

The QX70 that I drove came with the Sport Package of appearance and comfort enhancements, with the paddles made of magnesium. No advantage, really, but they do have a coolness factor.

Despite the taut suspension, the SUV drives with remarkable composure, remaining smooth and relaxed at the high speeds of Arizona’s rural highways. It’s all too easy to creep up into illegal speeds since the performance is quiet and non-intrusive. This would be a  tractable vehicle for a cross-country run on any variety of road types.

Handling vs. comfort is the tradeoff. Those who are accustomed to the softer ride of most crossover SUVs might find the QX a bit stiff. The ride does get buffeting, and there is a certain amount of body movement even on flat, straight roads. But those of us who appreciate the taut suspension of a sports vehicle should find this to their liking.

Base price for the well-equipped luxury wagon is $45,850, with the lavishly equipped test SUV totaling $58,085, including $995 shipping. Standard equipment includes a terrific Bose 11-speaker audio system with auxiliary input jacks and USB connection port, rear-view monitor, Bluetooth, keyless entry and ignition, power rear liftgate, leather seats, power moonroof and other goodies.

The Sport Package, priced at $3,550, includes 21-inch dark-finish alloy wheels, darkened body trim, sport seats, aluminum pedals and those magnesium paddles.

The array of switches and buttons can be daunting
The interior maintains the QX70’s theme of sports luxury

There were two other option packages on board. The Technology Package, $2,950, comes with such safety and drivability gear as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and prevention, intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning and adaptive headlights.

The Premium Package, $4,300, includes an eight-inch touch screen with voice recognition, Infiniti hard-drive navigation, streaming audio via Bluetooth and the very-cool Around View Monitor system, which uses various on-board cameras to provide what seems like an aerial view of the SUV to help with such maneuvers as parallel parking. It also has Moving Object Detection that alerts you while backing up to things that might be heading into your path, such as daydreaming humans.

The luxury interior is well-equipped and roomy, with a decent-sized back seat and cargo area. The plethora of buttons and controls on the dashboard and console can be daunting, and it takes some time and practice to master them. The audio and climate-control systems are front and center, though, with their own sets of dials so that you don’t have to poke around at the video screen controls. Unless you want to. The steering wheel also has plenty of redundant controls.

The QX70 is an interesting SUV that gets high marks for its sporty drivability, luxury interior and technology features, while maintaining the practicality mission that has made this class of vehicles so popular. But some people still might find the styling a bit over the top.

2015 Infiniti QX70

Vehicle type: 5-passenger SUV, rear-wheel drive
Base price: $45,850 Price as tested: $$58,085
Engine: 3.7-liter V6, 325-horsepower @ 7,000 rpm, 267 pound-feet of torque @ 5,200 rpm Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 113.67 inches Overall length/width: 191.3 inches / 75.9 inches
Curb weight: 4,209 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 17 city / 24 highway / 19 combined
Assembled in: Tochigi, Japan

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