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2015 Infiniti QX70 3.7 AWD

QX70 a stylish performance ute with a stiff rideinfin nose

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.

My drive was the pearl white version.
My drive was the pearl white version.

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. Continue reading 2015 Infiniti QX70 3.7 AWD

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2013 Lexus ES350

ES350 handsome blend of luxury, elegance

You’d have to be crazy or lacking in the ability to physically feel anything to not enjoy riding in the new Lexus ES350.lexus2

This is a fine front-drive mid-size luxury sedan, with a restyled grille and lines that give it a somewhat more interesting look. At least you notice it now.

But then that may not be what an ES350 owner wants because the car’s interior is about blending in, as in sliding into a quiet comfortable living room of an interior that melts away your tensions and worries. Even though this is the Lexus entry-level luxury sedan, the silver test car’s gray perforated leather seats, glossy dark brown bird’s-eye maple trim (part of a $1,370 luxury package) and black leather look dash speak of elegance.

Setting off the wood trim is a satin pewter-look trim that puts the exclamation point on subtle style and the gloss black console trim reminds you that soon you’ll be home playing your baby grand. Continue reading 2013 Lexus ES350