G. Chambers Williams

Infiniti updates its three-row QX60 crossover for 2016; prices start at $42,600 for gas version

Infiniti has comprehensively enhanced its versatile QX60 premium crossover for 2016.
Infiniti has comprehensively enhanced its versatile QX60 premium crossover for 2016.

There’s now room for the family in an Infiniti crossover utility vehicle.

Nissan’s premium Infiniti brand introduced its first seven-passenger crossover, now called the QX60, four years ago. And now, for 2016, the vehicle has received some updated styling, new technology and interior enhancements.

Originally called the JX, the QX60 is Infiniti’s only three-row crossover, although the brand does have a large traditional SUV with three rows of seating – the QX80.

What the QX60 also has that is absent in other Infiniti crossovers and SUVs is a gasoline-electric hybrid model, which joined the lineup for 2014.

For 2016, with the updated features, the QX60 begins at $42,600 (plus $995 freight) for the base front-wheel-drive model, and $44,400 for the all-wheel-drive version.

Hybrid prices start at $52,050 for the front-drive model, and $53,450 for all-wheel drive.

There’s essentially only one trim level, available in front- or all-wheel drive, for the gas-only and hybrid versions, but all of them can be dressed up with options and packages.

Topping the list of options for 2016 are the Deluxe Technology Package ($6,900) for the gasoline models, and the Hybrid Deluxe Technology and Theater Package ($8,100) for the gasoline-electric versions.

Our all-wheel-drive standard (non-hybrid) tester came with the Deluxe Technology Package, among a long list of options that ran the total sticker price up to $58,845, including freight.

The Theater Package is offered separately for the gasoline models for $1,850, and was also included on our tester. It brought a rear DVD entertainment system with separate seven-inch displays in the backs of the front-seat headrests.

These rear DVD systems are becoming rare these days, though, because most kids have their own smartphones and/or tablets, and prefer to use them while riding in the car – they offered much more variety in entertainment and gaming options.

Our vehicle also had the Premium Package ($1,800), with such extras as a dual-occupant memory system, Enhanced Intelligent Key (stores audio, climate and nav settings in addition to seat, steering wheel, and mirrors), entry/exit assist for the seat and steering wheel, driver’s seat two-way power lumbar, reverse-tilt side mirrors, heated steering wheel, remote engine start, roof rails, and stainless-steel bumper protection.

We also had the Premium Plus Package ($2,900), which brought navigation with Infiniti Connection, including an eight-inch touch screen, Infiniti Voice Recognition, NavTraffic and NavWeather, Infiniti’s cool Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, streaming audio via Bluetooth, rain-sensing wipers, and illuminated stainless-steel kick plates.

Also offered only on the gas models are the Driver Assistance Package ($1,700) and a 20-inch Wheel and Tire Package ($1,000).

Gas and hybrid models can get Pearl paint for $500. Also available on either gas or hybrid versions are splash guards ($215), while the gasoline models can also add a cargo package for $200.

On the outside, the revisions make the QX60 look more like other newer Infiniti designs, including the larger, bolder signature grille similar to the one on the QX80, along with new headlights, turn signals and 18-inch and 20-inch wheel designs.

New exterior colors for 2016 are Jade Green and Hagane Blue. Our tester came with the Hagane Blue, which is a dark blue hue.

Interior upgrades include new graphite weave accents, a stitched upper dash, and a new shift lever that is shared with the new Q60 coupe. We had a graphite interior with maple accents on our tester.

Other changes include improved handling, thanks to a revised steering system, new tires and enhanced chassis tuning.

There are no powertrain changes for 2016. Under the hood of the gasoline models is the same 3.5-liter V-6 as before, rated at 265 horsepower and 248 foot-pounds of torque. It’s connected to the same fuel-efficient continuously variable automatic transmission.

On our tester, this engine provided plenty of power for local and long-distance driving, even through some steep roads in mountainous areas.

The QX60 Hybrid comes with a supercharged 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engine, paired with an electric motor that gets its power from a compact lithium-ion battery pack.

The hybrid drive system is rated at 250 net system horsepower, which gives it the feel of a V-6 even though it has only a four-cylinder engine.

Both the gasoline and hybrid models can be equipped with Infiniti’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive, which operates automatically, with no drive input required, to maintain traction on all road surfaces and in all weather conditions. It does not have low-range gearing for serious off-road driving, however.

New safety technology is available in the Deluxe Technology Package, which adds Forward Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection and Predictive Forward Collision Warning. Infiniti says the previous model’s Deluxe Touring and Technology packages have been combined into this year’s Deluxe Technology Package.

The QX60 is based on the architecture of the Nissan Pathfinder crossover, and both vehicles are produced in the Nissan assembly plant near Nashville, Tenn. The engines come from Nissan’s powertrain facility about 80 miles southeast of Nashville.

In 2014, Nissan introduced hybrid versions of both the Pathfinder and the QX60, but the automaker dropped the Pathfinder hybrid model in early 2015. There has been no indication that the automaker might also drop the QX60 hybrid.

The QX60 has three rows of seats and a large cargo area, making it the roomiest luxury crossover on the market. It even has more second- and third-row legroom than the current full-size Cadillac Escalade SUV.

For the gas models, fuel-economy ratings are 18 mpg city/24 highway for the front-drive, and 18/23 for the all-wheel drive. The hybrid is rated at 26 city/28 highway for front drive, and 25/28 for all-wheel drive.

Hybrid models have the same interior space as the gasoline versions, including legroom and cargo capacity.

With its seven-passenger capacity, the QX60 competes against the Acura MDX, Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Audi Q7, though none of them are hybrids. Toyota’s Lexus luxury division doesn’t yet have a seven-passenger crossover, but there is a hybrid version of the seven-passenger Toyota Highlander.

The QX60’s second-row seat tilts and slides forward to allow for easy access to the third row. A child seat can be left latched in the middle row while entering or exit the third row, part of the flexibility designed to make the vehicle more family-friendly.

The third row in the QX60 is roomy enough to accommodate adult-size passengers. Some other vehicles in this size class have a third row that is best left to small kids.

The middle seat also can be moved forward or backward as needed to achieve the optimum alignment to accommodate passengers. There are five-and-a-half inches of second-row adjustability.

Leather seats are standard. Included are heated front seats with eight-way power adjustment for the driver’s side, and six-way power for the front passenger side. Optional are heated and cooled front seats, along with heated second-row outboard seats and a heated steering wheel.

Other standard amenities include a rearview monitor, illuminated entry system, eight cupholders and six bottle holders, front- and second-row armrests with storage, Bluetooth phone system and music streaming, six-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system, USB connection port, XM satellite radio, power windows with one-touch up/down, power door locks with automatic locking, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

Three-zone automatic climate control keeps the cabin heated or cooled as each row chooses. It includes a micron air filter, rear-seat heater ducts under the first and second rows, and air vents for the second and third rows.

A feature on all new Infiniti models is the Infiniti Connection telematics system, which is similar to GM’s OnStar, providing such services as automatic crash notification to emergency responders.

A towing package preps the QX60 for pulling trailers weighing up to 3,500 pounds, but that’s 1,000 pounds less than for the Nissan Pathfinder, which is essentially the same vehicle. It would be nice to have a higher towing capacity on the QX60.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at chambers@star-telegram.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.

2016 Infiniti QX60

The package: Large, five-door, seven-passenger, V-6 powered, front- or all-wheel-drive premium crossover utility vehicle.

Highlights: All new for 2013, this is Infiniti’s first three-row crossover, and it’s arguably the best in its class. It has plenty of power, luxury, safety and (mostly optional) high-tech gadgetry.

Negatives: Can get pricey when options packages are added.

Engines: 3.5-liter V-6.

Transmission: Continuously variable automatic.

Power/torque: 265 HP/248 foot-pounds.

Length: 196.4 inches.

Curb weight (base): 4,280 pounds (front drive); 4,419 pounds (AWD).

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

Cargo volume: 15.8 cubic feet (behind third seat).

Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds.

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

Electronic stability control: Standard.

Fuel capacity/type: 19.5 gallons/unleaded premium.

EPA fuel economy: 18 city/24 highway (front drive); 18/23 (AWD).

Major competitors: Acura MDX, Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, Audi Q7, Volvo XC90, Dodge Durango.

Base prices: Gasoline models: $42,600 (front drive), $44,400 (all-wheel drive), plus $995 freight; gasoline-electric hybrids: $52,050 (front drive), $53,450 (all-wheel drive).

Price as tested: $58,845, including freight and options (gasoline only, all-wheel drive).

On the Road rating: 9.3 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer's suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.