It’s been a few years since I last drove Infiniti’s QX60 and my recollection was of a machine that was spacious, quiet and smooth, but also one that offered very little driving enjoyment. This new one, however, even though it looks essentially the same as it did three years ago (or, for that matter, earlier still when it was called the JX35), isn’t half-bad.

Infiniti has made several key changes beneath the QX60’s very familiar surface that have virtually transformed it.

No, I don’t need to resign myself to the fact that I’m simply getting older, slower and more accepting of uninspiring machines, because Infiniti has made several key changes beneath the QX60’s very familiar surface that have virtually transformed it.

First off, and most obvious, the new QX60 has more power. While still displacing 3.5L, the V6 engine’s output has increased from 265 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque, to 295 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. Where before we wondered if a QX60 with the air conditioning running and seven passengers aboard would have sufficient gusto to propel itself up a reasonable grade, this new one moves along quite smartly.

A large part of what made earlier QX60s (and indeed, several Nissan models) feel so lethargic was the enthusiasm-sapping CVT transmission. While still directing power to all four wheels through a CVT, the transmission has clearly been fine-tuned for improved responsiveness over the years. Or maybe it’s just much happier having that extra power to work with. Either way, the QX60 no longer stands out amongst its four-wheeled peers as the fat kid running behind the pack trying to catch its breath.

Infiniti has also made improvements to the suspension, replacing each the shocks and springs in 2016 to give the QX60 a less mushy ride. This added starch in the suspenders prevents the QX60 from leaning nautically in the corners the way it once did and feels more appropriate for a premium crossover SUV. The steering, too, is quicker with the electrically assisted system requiring just 2.9 turns lock-to-lock.

Make no mistake, the QX60 isn’t going to tackle corners the way a Porsche Cayenne, Jaguar F-Pace, or even Infiniti’s own QX70 does, but it’s far better sorted than it was, and is certainly appropriate for a three-row crossover focussed more on luxury and comfort than performance.

The ride comfort doesn’t seem any worse for it either, with the QX60 still proving to be a smooth machine, particularly on the highway. The optional 20-inch wheels on our tester gave a solid “Thwack!” over some of the gnarliest potholes, but that’s the cost of looking sharp.

And the QX60 does look pretty sharp still, despite the years, especially finished in the gorgeous Hermosa blue paint seen here. The front is dominated by Infiniti’s large grille with a Texas-belt-buckle-sized logo in the middle. The lines and contours are restrained and the several chrome accents are sure to appeal to shoppers in this class. The profile, and toward the rear of the vehicle does make it look a little long, almost minivan-like, but that’s just to accommodate all the passengers and stuff inside. The kink in the D-pillars that has become a trademark feature of Infiniti’s design language is less successful here than on other models – on the QX60, it appears a giant sat down on the back of the QX60, squashing its roof in the process.

The interior of the QX60 is particularly lavish and finished in some impressive materials. Of course, it should be, especially considering the $15,000 worth of options piled on to this rig. The black leather seats are supple and the ornate stitching and cream-coloured piping add a distinctive touch.

The second-row seats, while not individual captain’s chairs, are nevertheless comfortable and do split and fold. In fact, the range of motion provided by those second-row seats (fore and aft, plus recline) provide plenty of options to find comfort, but also slide and fold in such a way that allows access to the third-row bench seat without needing to remove a child seat. It’s a system pioneered by Infiniti and Nissan, and remains a great selling feature today.

A pair of 8-inch colour monitors are embedded into the back of the front-seat headrests as a part of Infiniti’s Technology Package. While a neat novelty for my son, it quickly became clear that these very costly in-car monitors have become archaic in the age of individual tablets. Having an on-board Wi-Fi hotspot is far more appreciated by today’s youth, enabling them to access the files, games, and movies they’d like that aren’t necessarily on a disc.

The rear, third-row seat is suitable for around-town jaunts, or perhaps for smaller kids on longer hauls, but we’d only put adults you don’t mind offending back there for lengthy road trips. Even with the third row up, there’s an impressive amount of cargo space available, but with them folded, it’s quite cavernous – made much more so with the second row folded flat too. Of note, folding process itself is electrically actuated one. And if you have even more stuff than will fit inside, the QX60 is rated to tow up to 2,268 kg (5,000 lb).

The Deluxe Touring Package, as fitted to our tester, adds in second-row seat heaters, plus heated and cooled front seats, as well as a giant dual-pane moonroof to help make the rear cabin feel more bright and airy.

Front-seat occupants face a central console replete with easy to reach (and read) buttons for primary controls and the gauges are dominated by a pair of large, round dials with legible white text over a black background. It’s only Infiniti’s touchscreen infotainment system that is starting to show its age. While the screen is bright and crisp, the graphics are old school, and navigating through the menus is tedious, especially via Infiniti’s rotary-dial system. Thankfully, many of the key functions can be easily reached with redundant buttons flanking the controller dial. There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – a serious oversight these days.

Infiniti has made all the key active safety and convenience functions available for the QX60, such as adaptive cruise control with emergency braking assistance and lane-departure mitigation. Being among the first makers to widely offer these systems several years ago, Infiniti has had time to fine-tune their operation – another area that has improved in the past few years.

When facing its most obvious competitor, Acura’s MDX, the QX60 measures up very well, literally and figuratively. Both are within millimetres of one another dimensionally, offer virtually the same power and the same people-and-cargo capacity. And even at this top-trim level, the two competitors are priced virtually the same as well, meaning personal preference between the two need be the biggest deciding factor.

Time and aging are generally as unkind in the automotive realm as it is for humans. And yet, in some rare circumstances, evolutionary changes can make an unremarkable offering become pretty darned good. Infiniti’s QX60 is just such an example, as it carries on, effectively competing with newer machines thanks to important incremental upgrades.

2017 Infiniti QX60
Engine Displacement: 3.5L
Engine Cylinders: V6
Peak Horsepower: 295 hp
Peak Torque: 270 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 12.5/9.1/10.9 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space: 447 L/2,166 L seats down
2017 Infiniti QX60
Base Price $47,890
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,995
Price as Tested $65,235
Optional Equipment $15,250 – Premium Package $5,000; Technology Package $4,800; Deluxe Touring Package $4,700 Hermosa Blue Paint $750
Optional Equipment
Scoring breakdowns 7.7
7 Styling
8 Powertrain
8 Quality
8 Comfort
9 Practicality
8 Drivability
7 Usability/Ergonomics
7 Fuel Economy
8 Features
7 Value