There is nothing new for the 2018 Infiniti QX60. So why bother reviewing it?
Automakers give reviewers a chance to bid farewell to outgoing models before a redesign as a way to show off the new model’s evolution, or to pique interest in an outgoing model that can be had for a sweet price as dealers clear inventory.
Whatever the case, the QX60 premium three-row crossover is out of date and wore out its welcome before the review week was over. The layout and number of steering wheel controls are confusing, the design of the center stack interface feels like “Pong” in a “Call of Duty” time, and the continuously variable transmission is a horse that needs to be whipped. Better, take the whole thing out to pasture.
Yet nearly all of the dozen or so family members who set butt in the three-row crossover formerly known as JX remarked on its appointments and utility. The operative adjective was “fancy.” I felt it was more functional. We fit three adults in the 60/40 split second-row seats, with two kids in the way back. The grade schoolers could get in back on their own but had trouble sliding the second-row seats back into position. It was a tight fit but the only time such a load doesn’t feel tight is in an RV.
For consumers who haven’t bought a new car in a decade or so, the $60,000 test car was plenty fancy.
It came with dual seat-mounted 8-inch monitors (part of the theater package for $2,150), quilted leather seats, heated front and second-row seats, massive moonroof, fancy maple trim pieces on the dash and doors, and all those dings and zings of the advanced driver assist systems that made the steering wheel controls so overdone (part of the deluxe tech package for $7,300).
Some of the more distinguishing features were standard, such as the rear door alert, which is the only new thing for 2018. Standard on platform mate the Nissan Pathfinder and QX60, rear door alert uses door logic to sense when something such as a toddler or ice cream cake has been placed in the back. If the driver shuts off the engine and walks away from the car without opening the rear door he had opened when he got in the car, the horn honks three times successively. It’s meant to prevent heat stroke deaths of children left in cars, and the exterior reminder is more effective than other systems that chime or ding from inside the car.
There are other less impressive standard features. The rotary dials for the heated seats are too small to know the setting, the CD player wastes valuable space and the control panel in the center stack never got familiar during the week. The climate control function is not part of the bar of buttons for climate, for instance, though we did like the zoom-in dial for navigation.
The continuously variable transmission gave us pause on the highway. Twice we noticed a deadening numbness where the CVT stuck at around 70 mph and 2,000 rpm. Feathering the throttle to go faster just meant a bit more drone with no real pickup. We had to mash it. It appears this was only in our test car as a search for related or similar errors hasn’t found anything. And it was inconsistent; we couldn’t duplicate that effect nor could our fleet manager. The 295-horsepower V-6 engine was fine.
This powertrain will likely be retired with the imminent redesign of the QX60, which was launched for 2014. It will likely look more like the all-new 2019 QX50 compact crossover, which is based on a new front-wheel drive platform and sports a new interior layout. Most importantly, it features a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a smarter, more efficient variable compression ratio engine.
There’s a lot of competition in the premium three-row crossover space, and the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid, Buick Enclave, and Volvo XC90 do it a whole lot better and a whole lot fresher. But there might be some deals if you want to feel fancy and still be frugal.
2018 Infiniti QX60 at a glance
Vehicle type: Premium three-row crossover
Base price: $45,100
As tested: $59,675 (excluding $995 delivery)
Mpg: 19 city, 26 highway
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6
Transmission: CVT to AWD
Parting shot: Buh-bye.