While two of my close friends from my early days as a car writer are now senior executives at Infiniti, Nissan’s premium brand, I really can’t tell you much about the company’s goals other than to outperform the Germans when it comes to luxury vehicles.
I’ve luckily had some of their newer models, so at least I can tell you what the driving experience is like. These include both the all-new 2022 Infiniti QX60, the upscale partner to the new Nissan Pathfinder, and the new QX55, an apparently lifestyle-oriented coupe-roof option based on the smaller QX50 SUV.
The $63,250 Autograph Edition QX60 seemed a lot more like a Range Rover take on Pathfinder to me, with many angular stylistic choices closer to the more-than-large QX80. That’s bold, but in a way that’s not quite as offensive as Lexus, although the preponderance of chromed air vents and trim is certainly splashy, as are the 20-inch aluminum wheels. (I should note that a much more basic front-wheel drive version of the vehicle is available for $46,850.)
Inside the cabin, a pillow-stitched lower dash bumper, a bend in black wood trim, and a full complement of hard-to-see gloss black haptic controls make for a pretty chic look. There are even weird alternative display settings for the instruments if you get tired of the default instruments.
Performance gets a slight edge over the Pathfinder here in the form of a 295-hp, 270-foot-pound, 3.5-liter V6 setup with a nine-speed automatic and smart all-wheel drive. If you’re used to the QX80’s 400 horses (or the stellar performance I’ve found in the high-performance version of the Q60 sedan), the engine is a slight disappointment, and although the mass isn’t quite as present as it is in this one Beast, the three-row QX60 can feel a bit beefy at times, not only on steep climbs but also in hard cornering conditions.
Overall, however, it felt calm, collected and great for motorway cruising, and its litany of driver assistance and safety electronics (sensors, ProPilot quasi-autonomous cruise control, even an all-round view monitor that detects moving objects) are well integrated – especially since so many of them first appeared on earlier Infiniti automobiles before appearing in more pedestrian brands.
My tester certainly had the full appointments of luxury, with quilted and perforated semi-aniline leather first and second-row seats and equally distinctive but compact third-row seats. The front seats also have a massage mode, while the second row captain’s seats are also heated and quite roomy. They slide just as much as the Pathfinder, with wide rear doors for easy access and heavy-duty wear plates.
There’s contour stitching throughout and aluminum-like trim on the doors, as well as very prominent window pillar and door placement for some of the 17 speakers in the Bose performance audio system.
Like the Pathfinder, the QX60 is rated for a 6,000-pound towing capacity, with the addition of a transmission oil cooler and already-installed hitch and trailer electronics.
Perhaps a half-size smaller option, for those jealous that Mercedes has both full-roof and curved-roof options on almost all of its SUVs, is the new curved-roof QX55. It continues to be heavily promoted by influencers on social media; I had to visit a dealer site in Dayton, Ohio to learn that it’s pretty much a QX50 with a chop job and a bunch of fancier trim, wheels and a super groovy cement gray paint job and red interior.
My AWD sensory-level version of the 55, priced at $58,770, was indeed eye-catching with its painted 20-inch wheels, much more stylized and sensual grille, and aforementioned flat rear roof. While the design’s curves certainly help set it apart from the standard SUV shape, I discovered that it pretty much eliminates rearward visibility, as is the case with these rounded Benzes. I see now that the design is a sort of homage to the igloo-shaped Infiniti FX of nearly two decades ago; this one definitely looks better.
Power in the QX55 is a fairly powerful 2.0-liter turbo that drives 268 horses and 280 pound-feet of torque, which certainly propelled the vehicle. It’s mated to a continuously variable transmission, however, which behaves much better than the brands that have opted to ditch the technology – but certainly remains within reach.
On this smaller platform, that laundry list of security systems can seem a little overwhelming, but they’re certainly welcome.
Andy Stonehouse’s Mountain Wheels column appears in the Summit Daily News on Saturdays. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998 and has focused on automotive reporting since 2004. He lives in Gold. Contact him at [email protected]l.com.