Infiniti was proud to announce its recent headquarter relocation to Japan from Hong Kong – a move that will better integrate the design, research, and development needed for its future electrification strategy. The automaker was so proud, that in honour of this return to its ancestral homeland, Infiniti Canada’s Director Steve Rhind, wielding a wooden sledgehammer, performed a traditional Japanese “breaking open of the sake cask” ceremony to celebrate the event at the launch of the 2022 Infiniti QX60.
The mid-size crossover was the “most important launch ever” for Infiniti because it has been one of its best-selling models since its 2012 introduction and the recipient of multiple industry awards. It returns with its first major redesign and a new look dubbed “Modern Japanese Luxury.”
It’s curious then that the newly refreshed QX60 still hosts the familiar 3.5-litre V6 engine and that the “all-new” nine-speed automatic replacing the previous continuously variable transmission (CVT) is the same ZF transmission used by Honda, Acura, Land Rover, and Jeep since 2014. It’s a complex unit designed to prioritize fuel economy, but the abundance of gears and complicated clutch system can produce rough, lazy downshifts, and unexpected drops into neutral – for which it earned three recalls.
Working with ZF to refine the gearbox, Infiniti has put in thousands of test miles and added a direct all-wheel drive coupling that replaces the previous multi-plate clutch system.
With Infiniti’s pledge to electrify its entire lineup over the next few years, its best-selling crossover will probably be one of the first recipients of a new electric powertrain. Or its replacement will. In the meantime, the nine-speed is a frugal performer – important in a three-row crossover that’s just added heavy sound-deadening insulation and acoustic glass to increase interior refinement.
In a further effort to improve fuel economy, the new QX60 also features start/stop tech, improved aerodynamics including active grille shutters, and underbody cladding. The official fuel rating is 11.9 L/100 km city, 9.5 highway, and 10.8 combined. Our day exploring the back roads of beautiful Prince Edward County, Ont., turned in a respectable 9.9 L/100 km combined consumption.
QX60 marks the debut of a long list of “firsts” for Infiniti
The 2022 QX60 marks a number of firsts for Infiniti; launching with the new model are heated washer nozzles (Canada only), four-door capacitive touch locking and unlocking with smart key, a new 12.3-inch touchscreen, the aforementioned nine-speed transmission and direct coupling for the AWD system, piano-black touch control panels with haptic feedback, front seat massage, enhanced head-up display, expanded driver assist, and around-view monitor with moving object detection.
It’s a good-looking vehicle, particularly the topline Autograph trim that gets two-tone paint with a black roof, quilted diamond pattern leather on seats and dashboard, and unique 20-inch wheels. From the side, it bears more than a passing resemblance to its Lincoln Aviator competitor. The sleek sheet metal it’s wrapped in helps further differentiate the QX60 from the more humble Nissan Pathfinder, with which it shares many parts and components.
More luxury and technology in newly designed cabin
The new cabin is a big step up in terms of style and content and features a swooping two-tier dash that looks especially good when wrapped in diamond-quilted leather. It may not be in Audi’s or Mercedes’ class in terms of luxuriousness and craftsmanship, but it can certainly hold its own against competitors from Acura and Lexus. The black capacitive control panel is simple and easy to use but as with all such surfaces, is a magnet for dust and fingerprints. There are up to seven USB ports for all three rows. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot. The ProPilot Assist driver assistance and safety suite works well, adding an increased stop-and-go functionality, and now using the navigation to predict upcoming curves and posted speed limits to change the adaptive cruise control’s speed accordingly. Lane-centring can be overly intrusive, occasionally yanking the wheel abruptly when you bump up against the centre line.
Passenger room increases slightly in the second row, and the wider door openings allow for easier ingress. The power-operated second-row seats drop with the touch of a button, but not if they sense an occupant. The QX60 is a three-row, seven-seater except for the Autograph trim, which swaps the centre split row for captain’s chairs. There are 411 litres of cargo space behind the third row, which increases to 1,178 L with the third row folded, and 2,135 L with the second and third rows down. Underfloor storage increases to 54 litres. Switching from hydraulic to electronic shift-by-wire removed the mechanical components beneath the shifter console and freed up storage space.
The Autograph model also boasts “zero gravity” seats, front seats with climate control and massage, heated second row in the top two trims, and heated front seats and steering wheel even in the base model.
Speaking of which, the $54,995 Pure trim comes standard with all-wheel drive (front-wheel drive is only available in the U.S.) 12.3-inch touch display, leather front and second row, panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, and a 1,588 kg (3,500 lb) tow capacity.
Moving up through the trims gets you the new 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, the ProPilot Assist suite of driver’s aids with navigation link, traffic sign recognition, wireless charging, Bose sound, and a smart rearview mirror. The $64,995 Sensory trim adds a tow package that increases max capability to 2,722 kg (6,000 lb).
Taut ride and quiet serenity make the QX60 an ideal family tourer
The QX60 is ideal for a family touring wine country. The seats are comfortable and the extra effort in sound-deadening pays off in a serene ride with very little acoustic disturbance. New frequency-sensitive dampers grow firmer on the curves to help keep the car balanced and flat, and soften up to absorb rough pavement.
Five drive modes (Standard, Sport, Eco, Snow, or Personal) let the driver modify throttle, steering weight, shift response, or traction control depending on driving conditions. There’s not a lot of perceptible difference between the modes, nor a lot of steering feel, but for a family crossover that’s expected. The QX60’s taut handling still makes it fairly enjoyable to drive for something in its class.
Lag in responsiveness at speed is disappointing
It’s only during the highway portions of our route that my biggest critique of the QX60 becomes apparent. The 3.5-litre V6’s 295 horsepower is sufficient for a vehicle this size, and its 270 lb ft of torque is adequate. More important than abundance is the speed at which that power arrives, and the torque’s peak delivery isn’t reached until 4,800 rpm – and peak horsepower at 6,400. This means that you can mash the gas pedal when merging onto the highway but it takes a while for the engine to give you its maximum response. The transmission is a bit hesitant to downshift too, but you can help it along with the wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The 2022 Infiniti QX60 is a nice vehicle with an abundance of standard and available features. It boasts a well-sorted chassis and delivers a taut, balanced ride. Easy to get into and out of, it’s roomy and comfortable. But it competes in a viciously competitive segment that includes the Genesis GV80, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and BMW X5 – all of which boast more luxury and enhanced driving dynamics albeit at a higher price. But it offers similar value to the Lexus RX L, Acura MDX, and Lincoln Aviator.
The 2022 Infiniti QX80 is arriving at Canadian showrooms now. Pricing starts at $54,995 for Pure; Luxe at $59,495; Sensory at $64,995; and $67,995 for Autograph.