First drive: 2022 Infiniti QX60 finds its path with style and flair

Looks matter. One look of the brown grass, parched hillsides, and depleted reservoirs of California’s Napa Valley shows me something. One look at the redesigned 2022 Infiniti QX60 shows me something else, specifically, how it differs from its cheaper sibling, the Nissan Pathfinder.

Infiniti says the bourgeoisie QX60 shares no body panels with the proletariat Pathfinder, which was also redesigned for 2022. Looks matter, because mechanically the three-row crossover SUVs are pretty similar.

Both use a 3.5-liter V-6 with a 9-speed automatic transmission that’s a big improvement over the outgoing CVT. The more off-road minded Pathfinder offers a traction control system with  seven drive modes, whereas the QX60 has five modes for varying grades of on-road traction. Twin-valve pistons in the front shocks and a multi-link rear suspension better modulate road impacts than the previous iterations of the Pathfinder and QX60 and overall, it’s quieter, calmer, and smoother. 

What justifies the roughly $12,000 price difference between the Pathfinder and the QX60 is how it looks and how you feel as the driver. The alluring design evolves from the boxy, utilitarian Pathfinder into a more sophisticated class, drawing comparisons ranging from the Lincoln Aviator to the Range Rover Velar. The black roof available on top trims contributes to a sleek, solid profile that is tipped by an integrated rear roof spoiler up top and 20-inch alloy wheels down low. Chrome bands sandwich the roofline and the rocker panels, where modest black cladding draws a visual connection between the front and rear bumpers. 

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

It loses some charm up front, with fake plastic air intakes flanking the mesh grille. A fake lower skid plate repeats itself in the rear bumper, where the chromed plastic pretends to be dual twin exhaust pipes. The single pipe is tucked underneath the bumper, far from view. 

Inside, the details carry a more authentic experience. Embodying a Japanese design philosophy called Ma, where the emptiness of a space is as integral to its feel as what occupies a space, the cabin embraces the clean and uncluttered. 

Only top Autograph trims were available on my drive through wine country to the coast, and the scenery matched the setting inside. Autograph trims don Infiniti’s finest accoutrements, with fine finishes that call out to fingertips and palms. Semi-aniline leather upholstery quilted with blue stitching reflects ripples meeting in a pond. Black open-pore wood arcs from door to door, separating the upper and lower portions of the dash. A standard 12.3-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay (Android Auto requires a cord) interrupts the warm wood vibe, but the screen is complemented below by a symmetrical haptic climate control panel, like a pond reflecting a mirror image. 

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

Like Lincoln, the new front seats in the QX60 provide all-day comfort, thanks in part to an available massage function that operates on 11-minute intervals. All front seats come heated with power lumbar support and plenty of cushioning. 

Rear passengers don’t get the same attention. A second-row bench comes standard to sit seven passengers total but it would be a really tight fit or a really irritating ride. Captain’s chairs only come on the Autograph trim, which is an oversight Infiniti will hopefully fix next year. The captain’s chairs tumble forward with a button push, and the wider door opening makes getting into the third row easier than the previous model. The ease ends there.

Because Infiniti trimmed 2.0 inches of length from the body, third-row leg room loses that amount of space down to a snug 28 inches. That’s about an inch less than the 2022 Acura MDX and bulkier Lincoln Aviator. In any of them, second-row riders need to scoot up and the seat housing jams toe room. If third-row roominess is a deal maker, check out the Buick Enclave, which is the largest in this segment at more than 33 inches. 

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

Fortunately for a rider in the third row, head and shoulder room can accommodate a 6-foot passenger, and the 60/40-split rear seat back reclines for max nap appeal, but that might cramp the 14.5 cubic feet of space in the small cargo hold. Ceiling-mounted vents circulate air better to the rear seats. The two seats in the third row work for carpool duty or in a pinch, and it could be coveted by a younger family member on road trips, but fitting anything more than a family of five is a stretch.

A cabin equipped with laminated front glass, thicker second-row windows, and other additional sound-deadening materials than the last QX60 treats that family of five to a quieter ride befitting Infiniti’s upscale ambitions. The side mirrors create some wind noise, and the 20-inch wheels bring some road noise, but the engine is isolated from the cabin until pushed. 

The V-6 produces 295 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque with available all-wheel drive that uses a direct coupling to more quickly shuttle up to 50% of the torque to the rear wheels when slip is detected. While the output exceeds the Pathfinder’s by 11 hp and 11 lb-ft, the QX60 doesn’t have the performance pretensions of other luxury crossovers, despite a Sport mode that increases steering effort and quickens throttle response. With its independent suspension that quells body roll but can’t overcome physics, the QX60 is built more for comfort than speed—as it should be for a three-row SUV. 

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

The 9-speed is the biggest change to the QX60’s driving behavior. It allowed for more responsiveness and assertiveness off the line, and never dragged when challenged with an uphill climb. In higher gears, it’s tuned for efficiency, which increases 1 mpg to an EPA-rated 21 mpg city, 26 highway, 23 combined compared to the last QX60 with its CVT. The 9-speed got lost a couple times during downshifts for passing moves while cruising the coast, but paddle shifters remedied the hesitation. With all-wheel drive, the QX60 can tow up to 6,000 lb, which is more than most of its rivals. 

Without an electrified powertrain option, Infiniti trails rivals with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric variants. But that also keeps the QX60 on the value side of the luxury equation. Its touchscreen needs Apple CarPlay to feel modern; otherwise, the home screen relies on outdated and uncustomizable widgets. Other available technology is modern, with a head-up display that projects navigation cues, and a rear camera mirror that helps see out back when the cabin is filled with heads or the headrests are up. 

In all, with a better powertrain, more standard technology, and a stately design, the 2022 Infiniti QX60 looks the part of a luxury SUV despite its mainstream roots.  

Infiniti provided airfare, lodging, and a hat for The Car Connection to bring you this firsthand report.

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