AUTO REVIEW: Infiniti QX70 Midsize Crossover Offers Cool Looks, Sporty Driving Experience

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Infiniti’s stylish five-passenger crossover formerly known as the FX was renamed the QX70 just last year, and it continues for 2015 as one of the standouts in its class.

There’s ample room for up to five people, and the QX70 is just as much fun to drive as it is practical for everyday family duties. It’s essentially a combination of SUV and sports car that’s unusual in this class of vehicle.

The QX70, now in its second generation, comes in two models for 2015: the base 3.7 rear-drive with a 3.7-liter V-6 engine ($45,850, plus $995 freight); and the 3.7-liter with all-wheel drive ($47,300). Last year’s 5.0-liter V-8 model, which came only with all-wheel drive, has been discontinued.

Two years ago, Infiniti upgraded the V-6 model to a new 325-horsepower 3.7-liter, replacing the 303-horsepower, 3.5-liter that was used in the previous version. It raised the torque to 267 foot-pounds, up just slightly from the previous 262.

This is the crossover for those who enjoy performance as much as luxury, a quality that European automakers such as BMW and Jaguar have long been known for, but one that has mostly eluded the Japanese premium brands.

Infiniti introduced the current generation of the QX70 for 2009, but made some styling changes and added some new technology for 2012, including a new grille and front fascia design, new dashboard lighting, and standard heated front seats.

Available as part of the $4,300 Premium Package is Infiniti’s newest Around View Monitor system, which also has Moving Objection Detection. It provides additional safety by giving the driver visual and audible warnings of moving objects around the vehicle as it begins moving. The package was included on our tester, the rear-wheel-drive model.

The Premium Package also brought us a hard-drive navigation system with a nine-inch color display, voice recognition, NavTraffic and NavWeather; Bluetooth audio streaming; in-dash CD/DVD player; dual memory for the front seats; and aluminum roof rails.

We also had the Sport Package ($3,550), which tacked on the 21-inch, 10-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels that previously were standard on the V-8 model, along with a dark-finish grille, fog light surrounds, roof rails, outside mirrors, side air vents, lower side moldings and trunk finishers. These special trim touches gave the car a bit of a menacing look.

Also included in the package were interior contrast stitching and a dark headliner; heated and cooled front sport seats, with four-way power bolster adjustment for the driver’s side; magnesium shift paddles; and aluminum pedals.

Our car had the Graphite Shadow exterior color; along with a graphite leather interior.

The Technology Package ($2,950) gave us Intelligent Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Forward Collision Warning with Distance Control Assist; adaptive headlights (they turn slightly in the direction the car is turning); rain-sensing wipers; wheel design for the 3.7 Deluxe Touring Package ($3,300, also on our tester); adaptive headlights in the 5.0 Sport Technology Package ($6,250); and quilted-leather, climate-controlled front seats in the Deluxe Touring Package.

All QX70 models come with a smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic transmission. The optional steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters allow for manual shifting (without a clutch).

The QX70 is one of three crossovers for Infiniti, the premium brand of Nissan. The entry model is the smaller QX50 (formerly EX35). Added to the lineup for 2013 was the QX60 (originally called the JX), which now is also offered in a hybrid version.

Both the QX50 and QX70 have seating for up to five, while the QX60 comes with a third row, and can handle seven people. The QX60 shares its architecture with the Nissan Pathfinder.

Infiniti originally introduced the FX for 2003. It has an outward appearance similar to that of the Nissan Murano crossover, but the two are completely different vehicles. The Murano, also introduced for 2003 and redesigned for 2009 and 2015, is built on Nissan’s front-wheel-drive “D” vehicle platform.

The QX70 rides on the rear-drive chassis of the Infiniti Q50 sport sedan. The only Nissan-branded vehicle that uses that same architecture is the rear-drive 370Z sports car. The QX50, which also is built on the Q50 chassis, is aimed at women, while men are the target audience for the QX70.

The V-6 engine has all the power anyone really needs. EPA fuel economy ratings are 17 mpg city/24 highway with rear drive, and 16/22 with all-wheel drive.

Inside, the QX70 is luxurious without being ostentatious. Leather seats are standard, with buckets up front and a three-person bench in the rear with a pull-down center divider/armrest that turns it into a comfy two-passenger seat with plenty of legroom.

The optional intelligent all-wheel-drive system is designed for all-weather driving and all road surfaces, wet or dry, but is not intended for serious off-road use.

Other standard features include dual automatic tilt-down for the outside mirrors; a power tilt/telescopic steering column; dual-zone automatic climate control, self-dimming inside mirror with universal garage/gate opener, eight-way power front seats; Bose 11-speaker audio system with satellite radio, USB port for external devices, power moon roof, power/folding/heated outside mirrors, and rear-seat heating and cooling vents.

The QX70 ride can be a bit harsh, which is a trade-off for the vehicle’s tight, responsive handling. Serious drivers will appreciate it on twisty country roads and when whipping through traffic; some passengers won’t.

Standard was a power-operated rear hatch, a great convenience when loading or unloading cargo. The one-piece tailgate flips up to open, and it’s quite heavy to lift without help.

The only other extra we had were illuminated kick plates on the door sills, a $440 option.

We needed some storage spots up front for cellphones and iPods. You can put them in the two cupholders between the front seats, but then when you have drinks to put there, the electronic devices have no place to go.

Total sticker price for our 2015 QX70 3.7 rear-drive model with the Technology, Premium and Sport packages was $58,085, including freight.

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2015 INFINITI QX70

The package: Midsize, four-door, five-passenger, V-6 powered, rear- or all-wheel-drive premium crossover utility vehicle.

Highlights: Now in its second generation, the QX70 was the FX until last year. It’s a stylish, fun-to-drive crossover with plenty of power, luxury, safety and (mostly optional) high-tech gadgetry.

Negatives: Somewhat harsh ride; requires premium fuel, even for the V-6.

Engines: 3.7-liter V-6.

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic.

Power/torque: 325 horsepower/267 foot-pounds.

Length: 191.3 inches.

Curb weight: 4,209-4,321 pounds.

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.

Trunk volume: 24.8 cubic feet (behind rear seat); 62 cubic feet (rear seat folded down).

Towing capacity: 2,000 pounds (3.7 AWD; rear-drive model not tow rated).

Side air bags: Front seat-mounted, roof-mounted side-curtain for both rows, standard.

Electronic stability control: Standard.

Fuel capacity/type: 23.8 gallons/unleaded premium.

EPA fuel economy: 17 city/24 highway/19 combined (front drive); 16/22/18 (AWD).

Major competitors: Cadillac SRX, Lexus RX 350, BMW X5/X6; Porsche Cayenne; Audi Q7; Mercedes-Benz R-class, M-class; Volvo XC90, Lincoln MKX.

Base price range: $45,850-$47,300, plus $995 freight.

Price as tested: $58,085, including freight and options (rear-drive).

On the road rating: 9.1 (of a possible 10).