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Infiniti QX60 stands out from crowd

This review originally appeared in The Spokesman-Review.

Infiniti QX60 interior

Infiniti has comprehensively enhanced its versatile QX60 premium crossover for 2016, introducing a wide range of changes that improve the seven-seater’s exterior design and its driving dynamics, while showcasing new features and technologies that improve comfort, convenience and safety.

U.S. buyers shopping three-row crossovers face a rich supply of options, ranging from Mitsubishi’s $23,000 Outlander to the $113,00 Mercedes-Benz GLS63 AMG.

Camped between those extremes, the 2016 Infiniti QX60 ($42,600) distinguishes itself with an attitude-laced blend of luxury and tech. Having positioned itself as the performance leader among Asian luxury brands, Infiniti updates the QX60 this year with changes that align the big rig with defined brand values.

2016 Infiniti QX60 interior

Infiniti has comprehensively enhanced its versatile QX60 premium crossover for 2016, introducing a wide range of changes that improve the seven-seater’s exterior design and its driving dynamics, while showcasing new features and technologies that improve comfort, convenience and safety.

Of course, one expects athleticism from a 4,400-pound crossover the way one fancied great dodge-ball moves from the nearsighted kid in seventh-grade, but Infiniti takes its best shot.

The seven-passenger QX60 debuted in 2013 as the JX and, aside from the name change, has remained largely unchanged. Last year, it slipped into Infiniti’s No. One sales slot and now easily retains its lead.

An all-new QX is two or three years away and the competition isn’t going away, so Infiniti treats it this year to an extensive mid-cycle refresh.

A major facelift amplifies the attitude quotient. The QX60’s redesigned “double-arch” mesh grille is surrounded by with a large air-intake, bi-xenon headlights and LED driving lights and fog lamps.

Improved materials — including abundant soft-touch surfaces — boost interior ambience, while acoustic-glass side-windows reduce high-frequency sounds, including wind and tire noise. Already quiet, the QX60 grows quieter.

Standard leather seating includes a quilted seat base and graphite-weave accents. Contrasting stitching highlights the upper instrument panel and door panels. A new shift-lever reflects the piano-black-and-aluminum design theme of the instrument control panel. Three new USB ports attend to a family’s digital needs.

A round of chassis upgrades addresses complaints about too-soft suspension settings, with new shocks and springs that firm up the ride and enhance driving dynamics. The vehicle-speed-sensitive power steering system is retuned for quicker responses and greater feedback.

Some shoppers will deem the ride too firm — and road-surface imperfections do make their presence felt — but Infiniti loyalists will feel at home with the confidence imparted by the QX’s planted and sharp-edged feel.

A suite of available safety and driver-assist technologies comes aboard this year. Our tester included the $6,900 Deluxe Technology package that adds adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and prevention and blind-spot intervention. Also included are a front-collision warning system and emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

The QX60 is available in front- and all-wheel-drive configurations. A 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 265 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque powers the 4,400-pound rig, which can tow up to 5,000 pounds. The engine is buzzy under throttle and acceleration trails quicker entries. The standard continuously variable transmission (CVT) is well suited to the engine’s torque characteristics, though, minimizing the expected CVT drone.

A driver-selectable four-mode drive system –– alters throttle response and programmed “shift points” to optimize performance. Using a console-mounted rotary dial, the driver can select from among Standard, Sport, Eco and Snow settings.

Thirteen three-row crossovers are available to U.S. buyers and each is challenged to stand out from the crowd. Count the 2016 QX60 an unqualified success.

2016 Infiniti QX60 AWD
Vehicle base price: $42,600
Trim level base price: $44,400
As tested: $59,345
Options included pearl paint; adaptive cruise control; blind-spot warning; lane-departure warning and prevention; forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection; navigation; around-view monitor with moving-object detection; rain-sensing wipers; premium audio system; remote start, more.
Tow rating: 5,000 pounds
EPA ratings: 22 combined/19 city/26 highway

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