Eighteen months into a global pandemic and the world is tired of it all. Mask up. Mask off. Wash your hands. Six feet apart for social distancing. Covid testing. Vaccines. And the seemingly never-ending regimen repeats itself.
One constant in all this is that automotive manufacturers have continued to introduce new products by getting them in the hands of journalists across the country.
That’s a terrific feat, especially as nearly every auto show and in-person introduction has been canceled or, in some cases, limited to small groups with extraordinary precautions taken. But no one is staying idle. In fact, innovative thinking has kept the industry on the move.
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Infiniti, for example, temporarily changed its new vehicle introduction strategy to bring a new product directly to journalists’ homes. Indeed, when the QX55 crossover was ready to launch this past winter, an Infiniti QX80 SUV towing an enclosed trailer containing the new model took over.
This decision allowed journalists to experience a one-day preview and drive, but without the attendant crowds. It was a novel plan crafted by a PR team headed by Wendy Orthman, the General Manager of Infiniti Global Communications in Yokohama, Japan. And each personalized introduction was accompanied by much fanfare as lights and music supplied a festive touch.
Fast forward six months and another Infiniti model was ready for journalist inspection. This time, the event was held on site in California’s historic Napa Valley, one of the premier wine-producing regions in the world. The event was planned as COVID-19 conditions eased, but then surged just before the first guests arrived.
No matter, Wendy’s team made the necessary adjustments, and over two weeks, journalists and lifestyle enthusiasts alike traveled to the Golden State to take in the sights as well as the all-new Infiniti QX60.
Three-Row Utility Vehicles
Before we look at the new model, a bit of historical perspective is needed. The first-generation model of Infiniti’s midsize three-row crossover rolled out in 2013, sporting the Infiniti JX name. Just one year later, the company redid its naming convention, and the JX became the QX60. This generation lasted through 2020. No 2021 edition was built.
That first model gave Infiniti a strong presence in the luxury three-row crossover utility vehicle segment. It also supplied consumers with an alternative to the big and burly three-row Infiniti QX80. While the QX80 is based on a truck platform, the QX60 is car-based.
The midsize QX60 comes with standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. The full-size QX80 features standard rear-wheel drive and available four-wheel drive.
2022 Infiniti QX60 Preview
The 2022 Infiniti QX60 seats up to seven people. Plush bucket seats mark the first row, while the second row offers either a bench seat for three or a pair of captain’s chairs for two. The third row is a two-place bench seat.
This midsize model comes with a V6 engine and an automatic transmission. When properly equipped, the QX60 pulls up to 6,000 pounds, representing one of the highest ratings for its class.
Trims and Pricing
Infiniti offers the 2022 QX60 in four trims. Each one comes with standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive, the latter a $2,000 upgrade ($3,000 on the Autograph). The prices we list do not include the $1,025 destination charge.
Customers have a choice of Pure ($46,850), Luxe ($52,900), Sensory ($56,350), and Autograph ($60,350) trims. There are certain factory-installed options available, including premium paint ($695) across all trims.
The Luxe trim offers a Bose Performance Package ($900), while a Vision Package ($1,500) is available with the Luxe and Sensory trims. A Tow Package ($900) is exclusive to the Sensory AWD. Lastly, a super-premium paint option ($900) is available on all but the standard trim.
There are also several port-installed accessories, including splash guards, running boards, and a lighting package. Illuminated kick plates and special crossbar options are also available. That’s the extent of the options; everything else is wrapped within each trim.
Under the hood of every 2022 QX60 is a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 engine. It is the same V6 used since this model made its debut. This year, it maintains its ratings of 295 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque.
For the first time, Infiniti uses an automatic transmission in the QX60, replacing the previous continuously variable transmission (CVT). The CVT gave the QX60 an important fuel efficiency advantage over traditional geared transmissions.
But with more gears available, the ZF-supplied 9-speed automatic largely erases that difference. We will have more information about this powertrain in our driving impressions later.
Infiniti QX60 Styling Matters
How do you improve upon a well-received design? Very carefully. Indeed, the first-generation QX60 has worn its visage well and remains every bit the luxury fetcher that it is. But after eight years, even that look demands an overhaul.
Importantly, Infiniti knew that the streamlined persona of the first-generation QX60 had to remain even as a thoroughly modern substitute was conceived. Customers warmed to the QX60 as it advanced a sleek, curvy style while many of its competitors chose a blocky layout. The look is endearing and smart as the QX60 seems smaller than it is, at least on the outside.
The new model retains the satiny exterior design while bringing in fresh elements, including a gaping grille wrapped in chrome and intersected by headlight housing. The narrow headlights offer a fitting contrast as they gently wrap around the front edges.
Huge cutouts flank the grille with a wide, but narrow lower grille opening. The hood itself seems very wide with distinct creasing and edging giving it a formidable look.
Without the Kink
Along the sides, the QX60 features large wheel wells offering a layered look. Chrome touches, a high beltline, and a tapered roofline are among the features of note. Gone this year is the rear pillar kink that has long defined this brand. Chrome embellishments remain, but it is a floating roof design that makes a difference.
The rear fascia has the narrowest of LED lighting which is connected by a blacked-out bar. A spoiler and chrome-trimmed exhaust ports are other styling features of note. In all, the changes are not necessarily dramatic, but they combine to impart a thoroughly modern expression.
Automotive manufacturers know that the cabin can set the mood for the occupants the moment they open the door. Loud chimes, bright lights, and odd bits of plastic are things of the past, at least in luxury models. Even most mainstream models are much better conceived, although when you invest in luxury you expect something better.
The 2022 QX60 does not disappoint. In fact, it excites the senses. From pleasant color schemes to gentle lines, flowing curves, and choice materials, the QX60’s calling card is pleasant. Detailing is important to Infiniti.
That was wholly evident in the quilted leather seats – the diamond patterns were varied, not uniform, but collectively they meshed well. Importantly, the seats were super comfortable, especially upfront. That’s because Infiniti uses the same zero-gravity seat design advanced by NASA. Here, you can sit in the seat for hours without feeling fatigued, although we recommend more frequent breaks when taking long trips.
Other design details include a split dashboard, divided by color with a further split realized by vent ports. Chrome touches abound as does twin-stitched leather. The black open-pored ash wood trim found on the Sensory model is exquisite and gives this model a unique touch.
Comfy Captain’s Chairs
We most definitely recommend opting for the second-row captain’s chairs. While they do not match the comfort level of the first row, these chairs are a force to be reckoned with. Moreover, the available removable storage console between the two seats is easy to remove or keep in place.
Why not enjoy your seats and have a place to stow goodies for the long drive ahead? In any case, the second-row seats easily tumble forward, while the third row reclines.
Heading back to the first row, all trims come with 8-way power-controlled front seats that are heated and cooled. Further, a massaging function is available with the aptly named Sensory edition. Moreover, this trim adds heated second-row seats, a power-return for the third-row seats, advanced climate control, and enhanced interior ambient lighting.
As for storage space, there is 14.5 cubic feet behind the third row or 41.6 cubic feet with the last row folded. Drop down the second-and third-row seats, and there is 75.4 cubic feet of cargo space available.
Infiniti imbues the QX60 with a bevy of driver-assist safety features. These include automatic emergency braking front and rear, blind-spot monitoring, and lane maintenance keeping and assist.
Among the optional features are a surround-view camera system and adaptive lighting. Choose the available ProPilot Assist package and this one adds navigation along with limited hands-free driving. This system is the forerunner for what Infiniti has planned for autonomous driving.
The 2022 QX60 offers multiple improvements all around. In the tech zone, the changes are quite noticeable. To begin, six USB ports are standard (a seventh is added to the third row on the Sensory trim). Other standard features include a Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless Apple CarPlay, and wired Android Auto.
On select trims, buyers can upgrade the standard 9-speaker audio system for a 17-speaker Bose Performance Series sound system. Wireless phone charging, a 10.8-inch head-up display, and a smart rear-view mirror are available. The latter two are part of a Vision Package that also brings in the adaptive front lighting system.
California’s Napa Valley may not seem like the ideal place to put a new vehicle through the paces, but it is. It is more than just a valley, especially when you exit the area to take in winding roads, hills, and the rocky Pacific coast.
Our trips brought us through numerous towns previously recognized on wine bottles, including Calistoga, Rutherford, Oakville, and Sebastopol. It was brown everywhere as the pernicious drought gripped the valley. Fortunately, smart water conservation ensures that the grapes will continue, although the yield forecast for this fall is down.
Typically, automotive events require drive partners, but there were enough vehicles on hand for solitary driving. This writer did not mind, not because he was worried about pandemic-laced germs, but the freedom to drive with relative abandon.
A Proper Powertrain
The QX60’s powertrain is properly matched to the vehicle. We have driven this model before and that one came with the CVT. With the automatic transmission, we noticed how quickly and smoothly the transmission shifted, calling upon the right gear for the moment.
The V6 offers strong step-off acceleration and ample passing power. The engine never strains nor complains, but it does react swiftly. We found the steering weighty, the handling spot on, and the brakes were firm to the touch.
Infiniti supplies a five-mode selector to adjust the driving conditions. Move up the sporty range and the gears hold longer, damping improves, and the steering adds weight.
Models equipped with all-wheel drive benefit from direct coupling engagement that automatically moves upwards of 50-percent of the power to the rear wheels. The result is better traction and that is a desirable transition on wet roads, especially ice and snow.
With one powertrain choice, the current QX60 offers a take it or leave it proposition. We think most customers will be happy with the choice. However, we cannot help but think that a hybrid version will return to the lineup.
From 2014 to 2017 Infiniti offered a hybrid with a four-cylinder engine. Slow sales doomed that model, but we think there is room for a new hybrid if Infiniti chooses to go that route.
Infiniti QX60 Parting Thoughts
The 2022 Infiniti QX60 hits all the right notes and for this reason, it is worth further exploration. The volume models will be the two middle trims. With all-wheel drive and choice paint and package upgrades, a smartly equipped model will cost at least $55,000. That’s within the range of what we would expect for this model.
Competing models in this segment as identified by Infiniti include the Acura MDX, Audi Q7, BMW X5, and the Lexus RX-L. We would also add the Cadillac XT6, Lincoln Aviator, and the Volvo S90 to the mix or any other three-row crossover with premium features such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee L.
Finally, the Infiniti QX60 is built in Smyrna, Tennessee. The first models will arrive in dealer showrooms this fall. You can also order one.
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