In the words of Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear “To Infinity and Beyond!”
OK, switch the “y” in Infinity to an “i”, and ol’ Buzz could have been talking about Infiniti’s brand new QX60 three-row sport ute, and how it’s set to take Nissan’s luxury brand beyond and into the future.
Truth is, for the past decade, Infiniti-with-an-i has been on somnambulant snooze control, offering slim pickings in the way of new products or product innovation.
But Infiniti’s image is all about to change with the arrival in showrooms – right around now – of the stylish, edge-cutting 2022 QX60.
Its sleek, sexy design will definitely have you at hello. There’s a touch of Range Rover Velar and Lincoln Aviator in the longish hood, swept-back windshield, swooping roofline and high waist. The 20-inch rims and shimmery cherry-red paint on our top-of-the-line $65,000 Autograph model tester will definitely have you looking back as you walk away.
And it’s overflowing with some truly lovely detailing. The slash of Zorro LEDs above the headlights, the curvy clamshell hood, the intricate pattern of the grille inserts, the bold rear. There’s plenty to feast your eyes on here.
Slide behind the wheel and you’ll see a cabin transformed. Even the $46,850 base model gets wall-to-wall leather, while our fancy Autograph is lavished with semi-aniline hides stitched and quilted to mimic the ripples created by dropping a pebble in a pond. I kid you not.
Add to this, the lovely matte-finish wood, shiny piano black features and satin metal accents, and you’re left in no doubt that this is a proper hi-luxe ride.
For families, the QX still offers the flexibility and versatility of three-row seating. While that third row is just about big enough for adults on short trips, it’s perfect for kids. And Infiniti has nailed the entry-and-exit bit with middle-row captain’s chairs that cleverly flip forward at the touch of a button.
With the second-row seats in place, and the third row folded flat, you get a cavernous 41 cubic feet of load carrying space. Fold everything flat and and you have over 75 cubic feet to use. There are New York condos with less space.
For me the biggest change between the new QX60 and its predecessor is the way it drives. We’re talking night and day.
Yes, the Teflon-smooth 3.5-liter V6 carries over pretty much unchanged – thankfully Infiniti resisted the temptation to trade it for a hyper-active turbocharged “four” – and it continues to add a true luxury dimension to the Q.
As before, the V6 brings a muscley 295 horsepower to the party. But the big upgrade here is the switch from a lackluster, continuously-variable transmission (CVT), to a more responsive nine-speed automatic with paddle shifters.
Now when you crush the gas pedal from standstill, the QX60 scampers off the line like a Learjet on takeoff. Even as the revs soar, the V6 is bank-vault silent, partly down to the new acoustic glass and 35 pounds of sound-deadening packed in. At freeway cruising speeds, the lack of wind noise, road noise any kind of noise, is uncanny.
Slightly stiffer suspension and quicker, re-calibrated electric-assist steering gives the QX a nimble, athletic feel through the twisties while the ride always remains smooth and calm. Impressive stuff.
All QX60s come with front-wheel drive as standard, with all-wheel drive a $2-grand option. No, it’s not intended for mud-up-to-the-axles off-roading, but it will give you confidence in wet ‘n slippery conditions.
This section of the market is brimming with terrific offerings. Everything from the Acura MDX and Volvo XC90, to Lincoln’s Nautilus, Lexus’s RX and the new Genesis GV80. But this new QX60 is a terrific contender that, I feel, goes straight to the top of the class.
I’m predicting it’s going to create quite the “Buzz.”