QX70 a stylish performance ute with a stiff ride
Porsche, Audi and others blend performance sedan and sport-utility truck, but few deliver as stylish a blend as Infiniti with its QX70.
This isn’t exactly new. The sporty QX with its bulging fenders and long muscular sports car-style hood was formerly known as the FX37 and been around a few years. The former moniker was tied to this sport-oriented ute’s engine size, a 3.7-liter V6 that cranks a healthy 325 horses. But no matter its name, the QX70 is a beast.
But that can cut both ways. The V6 delivers strong power to all four wheels in the test model. Lower the hammer and you’ll growl up to highway speeds in short order. Yet there is a lot of growl that’s both real power and an engine trying to haul a massively heavy feeling ute up to 65 mph. The QX weighs in at 4,321 lbs., but feels much heavier.
It’s beastly too in its ride. The sport-tuned suspension delivers an incredibly stiff ride that borders on severe at times, especially surprising with the ute’s 113.6-inch wheelbase. The ride’s stiffness seems to contribute to the QX rocking side to side on our uneven roads and when pulling over parking lot entries. Several passengers were shocked at the ride. It’s not what the average luxury ute buyer who appreciates a soft, smooth, controlled ride would expect and frankly, at the test truck’s final price of $59,535 I was surprised there was no electronic way to soften the ride.
Yet the QX70s performance bent pays off in other ways. Handling along with crisp shifts from its 7-speed automatic are strong points.
Steering is responsive and fun with moderate wheel effort, and the Infiniti turns into corners well and stays planted. Its AWD system surely helps there, and when the roads turn sloppy, which they did early in my drive. There’s also a Snow setting on the console to help all the ute’s systems work better when the white devil visits our roadways.
The crisp tranny also has a manual mode controlled by tall paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel, but those are merely for fun as the shift points are already well handled. Another plus is excellent braking from large discs at all four wheels.
My white test unit’s interior was black leather and the seats, dash and steering wheel featured purple stitching to give the cockpit some personality. Doors and center armrests featured a pillow-like soft leather feel and the seats themselves are well shaped for comfort. This one also added power back and hip bolsters on the driver’s seat along with two memory settings and a manual lower cushion extension on both front seats that aids long-legged drivers.
Dash layout is good, but Infiniti loads this center stack with buttons, as it does in several other models. I counted 43 buttons and knobs on the stack to control a touchscreen navigation and radio system. The good news is the system sounds great and includes six small channel selection buttons, avoiding a few clunky touchscreen problems that I’ve found in many vehicles. These old-tech buttons work, even when you’re wearing gloves.
You’d expect this sort of power and luxury to push the cost envelope. At its base the tested QX70 AWD lists at $47,300 and adds a $995 delivery fee. But this one ladled on the big pricy option packages to give it the luxury features most high-end crossover and sport-ute buyers would expect.
These included a Technology Package for $2,950 that adds intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning (ugh), intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning, adaptive front lighting, rain-sensing wipers and front pre-crash seatbelts. I’d pass on this one just because the lane departure warning must be manually turned off each time you start the car. It defaults to “on” and beeps incessantly when you get near a center line.
More valuable is the Premium Package with its navigation system with easy to see 8-inch VGA color display. The system includes voice recognition, NavTraffic, NavWeather and Infiniti’s Around View monitor that uses four cameras to show you all around the vehicle. The system also includes moving object detection and front and rear sonar, which primarily is helpful in busy parking lots.
The premium package also includes a Bluetooth system, in-dash CD/DVD player, dual occupant memory system and entry/exit assist for the driver’s seat and steering wheel. That means they power up and back when you turn the ignition off to ease driver access. Infiniti also includes outside mirrors with a reverse tilt-down feature, a power tilt/telescope steering wheel and aluminum roof rails in the package, which costs $4,300.
This one included a $3,550 Sport Package too that boosts the 18-inch tires to giant 21-inchers with 6-spoke dark finish wheels. The dark finish also includes the grille, roof rails, fog lamp surrounds, outside mirror housing, side air vents, lower side moldings and trunk finishers. This being a white vehicle the dark metal trim and wheels looks particularly sporty.
Other features of the sport package include that purple contrast stitching, a dark headliner, climate-controlled front sport seats with the power bolsters mentioned earlier, plus magnesium paddle shifters and aluminum pedals. Illuminated kick plates added another $440. Hey, if you’re going with a sport-oriented sport-ute you’d might as well play it up to the max.
All this is not to say the QX doesn’t have some nice standard features. It does, including a sunroof, power hatch, fog lights, HomeLink, sliding visors and power folding side mirrors. Its rear seat will split and fold flat to increase storage room too and there’s a full-size spare under the cargo floor.
A downside of the QX’s size and weight is paltry gas mileage. I got just 17 mpg in about 60% city driving and with a couple really cold days during my week’s drive. The EPA rates the QX70 at only 16 mpg city and 22 highway and it prefers premium unleaded. By comparison, the QX60 Hybrid that I drove last year gave me 23.4 mpg and is rated 25 mpg city and 28 highway.
I feel Infiniti’s QX60 is the better buy as these are nearly the same size vehicles, the QX60 being about five inches longer, and less than an inch longer in wheelbase. But its ride is superior and while boxier looking, it includes seating for seven vs. five in the tested QX70.
Price is nearly identical between the tested AWD QX70 and the QX60 hybrid too. Note that a rear-drive QX70 is available starting at $46,845, including delivery.
I love the gutsy design of the QX70, but it has its limitations. Consider the QX60 hybrid if you want a better ride and gas mileage for similar coin.
FAST Stats: 2015 Infiniti QX70 3.7 AWD
Hits: Sporty bulging front fenders and interesting profile, luxurious interior, good handling and strong engine. Comfy leather interior with heated/cooled seats, sunroof and power hatch.
Misses: Extremely stiff ride, heavy feel and button-happy (43) dash. Annoying beeping lane departure system turns itself back on every time you start the vehicle.
Made in: Japan
Engine: 3.7-liter V6, 325 hp
Transmission: 7-speed automatic w/Adaptive Shift Control
Weight: 4,321 lbs.
Wheelbase: 113.6 in.
Length: 191.3 in.
Tow: 2,000 lbs.
Cargo: 24.8 cu. ft (62 cu.ft., rear seat down)
MPG: 17.0 (tested)
Base Price: $47,300
Dealer’s Price: NA
Illuminated kick plates, $440
Technology package (Intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning, intelligent brake assist w/forward collision warning, adaptive front lighting, rain-sensing wipers, front pre-crash seatbelts), $2,950
Premium package (Infiniti hard drive nav, 8-inch VGA color display, Infiniti voice recognition, NavTraffic, NavWeather, Around View monitor w/moving object detection and front/rear sonar, Bluetooth, in-dash CD/DVD player, dual occupant memory system, entry/exit assist driver’s seat/steering wheel, outside mirrors w/reverse tilt-down, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, aluminum roof rails), $4,300
Sport package (21-inch 6-spoke dark finish wheels, dark finish grille & roof rails, fog lamp surrounds, outside mirror housing, side air vents, lower side moldings and trunk finishers, interior contrast stitching, dark headliner, climate-controlled front seats, front sport seats, driver’s seat power bolster, magnesium paddle shifters, aluminum pedals), $3,550
Test vehicle: $59,535
Sources: Infiniti, www.kbb.com