Vehicles on Vacation: California Road Trip with the 2017 Infiniti QX60 [Review]

2017 Infiniti QX60

The winter holiday break between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a welcome downtime before gearing back up for the new year and the big announcements by the automakers at CES and the Detroit auto show (NAIAS). Hence, a road trip to California’s central coast was a great way to avoid the madness of long security lines and computer failures at the crowded airports.

So we loaded up a 2017 Infiniti QX60 – on loan from Nissan – with spouse and doggy, and headed south to Paso Robles, Solvang, and San Luis Obispo with the goal to explore new roads, do some wine tasting at a few of the region’s 250-plus wineries, restock our olive oil collection, and sample the local farm-fresh cuisine.

Refreshed for the 2017 model year, the QX60 is Infiniti’s mid-size SUV/crossover that has three rows of seating and an abundance of technology. The most notable change for 2017 is a revised V6 engine with a 30 horsepower increase over the 2016 model. Our front-wheel drive loaner transferred power through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). An all-wheel drive version – which costs an extra $1800 – is available for those hearty people living in the winter snow belt who want to spend for all-weather capability.

EPA fuel-economy numbers for the AWD version stay the same, at 19/26 mpg city/highway, while front-drive QX60s lose 1 mpg in the city for a new rating of 20/27 mpg city/highway. Combined mpg after our vacation on the road was a respectable 24 mpg. We suspect 22 mpg overall when driven with fewer highway miles.

2017 Infiniti QX60

Starting our 1,400-mile excursion from Northern California to the Central Coast, and traveling as far south as Los Angeles, there were a lot of freeway miles on this trip. Infiniti’s Intelligent Cruise Control was by far the most appreciated driving technology feature – automatically adjusting the vehicle’s speed up or down as traffic oscillated around us. The Predictive Forward and Backup Collision Warning systems kept us accident-free by sounding alarms and pre-loading the brakes. There were a couple times when the system took over the braking when it thought we were in danger of colliding with a vehicle in front of us.

At the end of the day, the biggest pros of the Infiniti QX60 are its comfort and utility. Driving Infiniti’s updated mid-size was a no-brainer. On long hauls, the comfort queen carried everyone safely without fatigue or stress. Plus, its spacious cargo capacity and third row mean the luxury crossover can carry a whole lot of stuff or up to seven passengers. The number of active safety systems does a great job of keeping watch for unexpected slow traffic and lowering the stress levels.

People who appreciate a conservative approach to styling and interior design will like the QX60’s demure appearance. It is by no means the ultra-modern or ultra-edgy car where Audi and Cadillac lead the pack. Japanese automakers – like Honda and Toyota – play it conservatively, and Nissan/Infiniti don’t break any new ground with their attentive approach of integrating technology with their cars.

One of the best characteristics of the QX60 is its ability to dampen the roughness of choppy roads. Conversely, the trade off of being able to smooth out the bumps on rough pavement is the sacrifice of sportiness. But I suspect that the people who will be buying the QX60 as a family hauler won’t be concerned about the lack of sharpness when attacking the corners.

In terms of driving dynamics, this is by far one of the least sporty vehicles I’ve driven recently. Especially when accounting for the CVT’s characteristics in the drivetrain. A CVT is smoother in operation when compared to a traditional multi-gear transmission and can keep the engine revving happily in the powerband when necessary, but it makes the car feel more sluggish than it needs to be and the CVT drone can be quite obnoxious in the between 2,200 and 3,000 rpm. In most daily driving, the CVT will be unnoticeable. At freeway speeds up to 75 mph, the V6 will lazily hum at 2,000 rpm – which helps save fuel. Plus the well-insulated cabin and acoustic glass do a great job of abating the outside road noise.

In no way is the QX60’s in-car tech on the leading edge. In fact, it is lacking in a lot of different ways. The graphics are simple and are not high resolution. Imagery from the 360-degree camera view angles is on the grainy side. Support for smartphone apps, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are non-existent. The infotainment system does have Bluetooth audio streaming but forget about controlling Pandora or Spotify. And the navigation system is a bear to use because the software and human interface operations are long past due for a major update.

Short trip, long trip. People or cargo – comfort, utility, and a strong complement of safety features are where the 2017 Infiniti QX60 excels. Details like the large outside view mirrors are excellent assistants when towing. Just be watchful when turning because they do interfere with forward corner vision, along with the thick A-pillar.

NEW FOR 2017
The Infiniti InTouch with Navigation and Infiniti InTouchTM Services, now available in the Premium Plus package, add Vehicle Health Report and Voice Recognition for audio, Bluetooth and vehicle information.

The Deluxe Technology Package adds a new Motion Activated Liftgate, High Beam Assist and auto side dimming mirrors, while the Drivers Assistance Package also includes auto side dimming mirrors.
For 2017, the Theater Package now offers dual 8-inch color monitors (1-inch larger than 2016), along with the addition of a 12V power point, USB port (audio/video capable) and an HDMI port. Additionally, Wi-Fi is offered in conjunction with the Theater Package and includes 2GB with a 3-month complimentary trial.

2017 Infiniti QX60

Other cars to consider: Acura MDX, Lexus GX, Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, Lincoln MKT, Land Rover Discovery, Volvo XC90

Another new for 2017 premium mid-size SUV with 7-passenger capacity is the Land Rover Discovery. Watch the video below as Roman tells us “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know” about the old LR4’s replacement.

2017 Infiniti QX60 Specifications

Base Price: $43,100
Price As Tested: $58,245
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower: 295 hp @ 6,400 rpm
Torque: 172 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm
Transmission: CVT w/manual shift mode
Drivetrain: Front engine/front drive (AWD available)
EPA fuel mileage: 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway/23 mpg combined (FWD)
Fuel capacity: gallons
Wheelbase: 114.2 inches
Length: 200.1 inches
Width: 77.2 inches
Height: 68.6 inches
Curb Weight: 4,379 lbs (FWD)

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