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In recent history, Infiniti has struggled to sand off the rough edges of its Nissan heritage. Vacillating between sporty luxury a la BMW and Lexus-like plush comfort, Infiniti lacks a clear identity as a result.

But with the release of the 2022 Infiniti QX60, complete with a new design language, a more refined interior, and a drivetrain that finally eschews the economy-spec continuously variable transmission in favor of a traditional automatic, Infiniti is clearly aiming for a well-defined spot in the luxury conversation. So when Infiniti invited me out to the rolling hills of Napa, California, to test the luxury SUV, I was excited to witness first hand a new statement of intent for the company’s future vision. And immediately upon seeing the $47,875 QX60 in person, Infiniti’s vision is appealing.

Quick Stats 2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph AWD
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Output: 295 Horsepower / 270 Pound-Feet
Seating Capacity/Layout: 7, 2 / 3 / 2
Cargo Volume: 14.5 / 41.6 / 75.4
Base Price: $46,850 + $1,025 Destination
As-Tested Price: $65,175

 

2022 Infiniti QX60
2022 Infiniti QX60

Proper Luxury

The 2022 QX60 is striking. The previous CUV had an element of ‘90s bubble-era shaping to it, but the newest model ditches the bulbous lines and bloated look in favor of taut sheetmetal that looks vastly more modern. The rear LED light strip ensconced in muscular body lines looks fantastic in the Deep Bordeaux paint of my test car. The vehicle-spanning rear lightbar adds a sense of timelessness to the rear, without looking dated. The only stylistic cue I found confusing were the large chrome pieces slapped onto the front and rear bumpers; on an otherwise svelte and restrained SUV, it looked tacky.

That said, the overall package still works. Don’t expect to see the stunning red paint of my test car regularly on the streets – this is a restrained SUV after all. The QX60’s quiet, unobtrusive utility still defines the market, but it is comforting to know that Infiniti offers a handful of bold colors that actually showcase the new design language well. It shows a level of confidence that the design deserves.

Step inside and the cockpit is quite nicely furnished as well. The Autograph model – the highest trim available – comes with quilted leather seats and dash padding, which makes the Infiniti seem vastly more plush than its Nissan roots would initially suggest. The nicely carved door panels wear open-pore wood and black trim that felt reasonably upscale without falling into tryhard ostentatiousness.

Wireless charging, a two-row-deep panoramic sunroof, and massaging front seats made the QX60 feel firmly ensconced in the luxury market. Gone is the old Best Buy–looking radio/navigation screen, and in its place is a usable (but imperfect) 12.3-inch touchscreen with CarPlay and Android Auto. While the design and menus of the built-in Infiniti operating system are a bit clunky, the unit at least looks like it actually belongs in a luxury car.

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The only weakness in the cockpit, sadly, was also impossible to ignore. The steering wheel is clearly a parts-bin Nissan unit, and it frames a very outdated and generally unattractive digital gauge cluster. For such an otherwise nicely outfitted interior to have the main touch surface and the driver-focused display look and feel so unsatisfying is an unfortunate and unforced error.

Head back behind the driver, though, to find the most impressive part of the entire vehicle: the rear seats. Infiniti carried the quality of the interior backwards, which is less common than you’d hope. Both the one-touch second-row seat sliders for easy access to the rear row and the one-touch folding/unfolding for the third row itself are practical benefits that add ease to daily life.

2022 Infiniti QX60
2022 Infiniti QX60
2022 Infiniti QX60

Small details, such as the middle-row seat folding mechanism that operates with a child seat buckled in and the overhead AC vents that provide more effective climate control, show that the designers did actually consider why someone would need all three rows of the SUV. The raised, theatre-style elevation of each row made sitting in the very back vastly less claustrophobic than I would expect from a mid-size three row without a significant detriment to headroom. Overall, rear passenger comfort is one of the spots in which the QX60 shines in an extremely crowded market.

2022 Infiniti QX60
2022 Infiniti QX60

A Familiar, But Improved, Drive

Driving the QX60 gave me the same impression as the cockpit itself: it’s close, but there are a few key points that Infiniti missed the mark on. The handling, however, was a direct hit – this SUV is competent through turns. The roll control is quite impressive for any vehicle of its size, but more importantly for daily use, the QX did not feel massive. In many modern SUVs, I have found the seating position, A-pillar location, and general forward visibility all contribute to the feeling that the car is hefty and difficult to park or squeeze through tight alleys.

The QX60 was instantly comfortable for me, and had none of that massive-SUV guesswork during maneuvering. For a vehicle I had no intent on romping through the switchbacks outside Napa, Infiniti’s newest was so sure-footed and pleasant to drive it encouraged vastly more enjoyable maneuvers than a typical three-row.

The V6 definitely rapid enough for the platform, but it was hard to shake the impression that the it wasn’t quite happy pulling all of that weight.

The transmission, too, is a welcome upgrade from the outgoing model’s CVT. Now, the QX60 gets a legitimate ZF nine-speed automatic, which it shares with several other SUVs on the market, so it’s already a well-proven unit. It was unobtrusive in calm town and highway driving, but occasionally during aggressive maneuvers I found the gearbox would delay a bit. Overall, it’s a vast improvement over the outgoing model and I found it pleasant.

The rest of the drivetrain is very similar to the outgoing model’s (and the related Nissan Pathfinder). Front or all-wheel-drive are available on every trim package, and the whole drivetrain’s heart is still a Nissan VQ35DD 3.5-liter V6 that produces 295 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque.

The V6 definitely rapid enough for the platform, but it was hard to shake the impression that the it wasn’t quite happy pulling all of that weight, especially during angry stoplight departures. If you’re an unaggressive driver, it’ll be enough. Fuel economy is unremarkable – Infiniti claims 23 miles per gallon combined for the front-drive CUV, and 22 mpg for the all-wheel-drive model – but it’s on-par with the rest of the market.

However, the unfortunate and blatant weak spot – and my least favorite part of the new QX60 – are the driver assists. The 2022 QX60 is available with Nissan’s ProPilot Assist system, which normally receives praise. But the lane-keep assist felt vague and would wander and overcorrect while still insisting on maintaining its ironclad grip on the wheel. At one point the system’s intervention was so aggressive I nearly lost my grip entirely when it misread a road line and made a sudden adjustment, jerking the wheel when I was not expecting it and requiring an immediate correction.

I eventually turned ProPilot off completely about halfway through the day, finding it more distracting than helpful. Unfortunately, the adaptive cruise was less than ideal as well. It lost focus when following traffic on two-lane roads with gentle bends or hills that other cars would have no issue with. It did handle stop-and-go decently well, but considering how many manufacturers have offered fantastic driver-aid packages on cars vastly less expensive and further downmarket than the QX60, the lack of polish on the ProPilot package is hard to overlook.

2022 Infiniti QX60
2022 Infiniti QX60
2022 Infiniti QX60
2022 Infiniti QX60

Near The Mark

Overall, the 2022 Infiniti QX60 does demonstrate a brand finding its footing for a new decade, and finding it decently well. Sharp styling, a comfortable ride, and a vastly improved drivetrain and interior all contribute to the premium feeling that Infiniti seems to be striving for. I still walked away wishing the folks at Infiniti had taken a bit more time to sand down the rough edges to truly give the sense of refinement they had aimed for, but it’s a significant step in the right direction. In such a crowded space the new QX60 finally feels like a contender despite its flaws.

QX60 Competitor Reviews:

Gallery: 2022 Infiniti QX60: First Drive

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph AWD

Engine 3.5-liter V6
Output 295 Horsepower / 270 Pound-Feet
Transmission Nine-Speed Automatic
Drive Type All-Wheel Drive
Efficiency TBD
Seating Capacity 7
Cargo Volume 14.5 / 41.6 / 75.4
Base Price $46,850 + $1,025 Destination
Trim Base Price $61,375
As-Tested Price $65,175
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