There is a new order at Infiniti, with new names for the 2014 models. Henceforth, sedans, coupes and convertibles will have alphanumeric names beginning with the letter Q, followed by a number that announces the model’s position in the Infiniti hierarchy. Utility vehicles will start with QX followed by a number.
An Infiniti spokesman explained the logic. Assigning a number based on model positioning as opposed to engine size smoothes the way for future engine downsizing without either fibbing or giving the buyers of those cars an inferiority complex.
That’s a problem that some competitors have encountered. Their solution has been to keep the old designations that once referenced engine size while making the engines smaller. Do they think that no one will notice?
The smaller engine issue will likely play a larger role in the future, as are engines downsized in pursuit of better fuel economy while new technology maintains performance.
All of this brings us to the QX70. Last year, it was the V-6-powered FX37 or the FX50, equipped with a V-8. Outside of the new name, Infiniti has done little to change this model. As with last year’s version, buyers can choose between the V-6 powered QX70 with either rear-or optional all-wheel drive, or the V-8 powered model, which only comes in all-wheel drive.
Regardless of the engine, the QX70 features a fluid and rounded shape that clearly separates it from boxy utility vehicles. It could be argued that this is form over function. Or, it could be said that the QX70 is a desirable option for utility-vehicle buyers who aspire to be stylish.
That desirability extends beyond aesthetics. The V-6 QX70 with the optional all-wheel drive my wife Paula and I had for review felt far removed from the sluggish utility vehicle stereotype. This is a utility vehicle with the powerful acceleration – zero-to-60 takes just 6.2 seconds – and crisp steering responses of a good grand touring sedan.
Spirited driving highlights the QX70’s ability to keep lean in check during brisk cornering and impart a feeling of handling precision through the steering. It will also hint at the vehicle’s mass. It tips the scales at more than two tons, a weight that effectively keeps it from being a suitable substitute for a hardcore sports sedan fanatic. There is a price to be paid for the QX70’s handling prowess, as the ride is firm enough to jostle passengers over rough pavement.
The interior is best described as sumptuous. The front seats offer first-class accommodations. The rear seat is suitable for adults, but narrow door openings at the foot level can make getting in and out a bit of a challenge for some. There is no third-row seat.
Name changes tend to be risky for automakers. New models with new names often tend to fall short of the sales totals chalked up by the vehicles that they replace. The QX70 features a new name applied to an existing model. Time will tell how the market reacts.
Since it arrived just before Christmas, I started to think of the 2014 Infiniti QX70 as a holiday shopper’s special. While the styling limits its utility, there was still plenty of space for presents. And the Around View Monitor camera system has to be tried in a crowded parking lot to be believed. It clearly shows the driver exactly where the car is in reference to what is at the front, the sides and the rear. With this system activated it is possible to put the QX70 precisely in the center of any parking space.
The camera system is combined with “moving object detection,” or in other words, an approaching car. This adds to the security when maneuvering out of a parking space with limited visibility. Unfortunately, the Around View Monitor isn’t standard. It’s part of the $4,300 Technology Package that was included on our review car.
Fortunately, a backup camera is standard. Rear visibility is significantly curtailed by the styling, which makes the camera a must. Side visibility for this shorter driver was also somewhat limited at intersections.
Controls are easily mastered. This Infiniti has easy-to-use climate controls and the radio uses mechanical buttons, albeit small ones, for station presets, rather than the potentially more distracting virtual touch-screen buttons that seem to be increasingly common today.
On the road, the QX70 feels immensely solid, a comforting attribute when the surrounding heavy traffic is composed mainly of tractor-trailer rigs. The ride can be busy, but I never found it to be uncomfortable. Acceleration is rapid and throttle response is quick. The downside of this athletic performance includes more engine noise than I’d like on acceleration. The engineers no doubt thought the exhaust tone would be considered sporty. There is also the issue of fuel economy and cost with the premium fuel that is called for by Infiniti. My husband Jim and I averaged 18 miles per gallon.
The rounded styling clearly diminishes this model’s practicality. However, it’s highly fashionable while remaining roomy enough for most families. In this respect, the Infiniti QX70 has no direct competition.
ENGINES: 3.7-liter V-6 5.0-liter V-8
HP: 325 390
TORQUE (lb/ft): 267 369
EPA RWD: 17/24 Not offered
EPA AWD: 16/22 14/20
STARTS AT: $45,750
Next week: Toyota Tundra
Jim MacPherson is the host of "The Car Doctor" show airing Sundays at noon on WTIC-AM. Paula MacPherson is his wife and new-car review partner. Send comments, questions, suggestions in care of Special Publications, Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115, or email email@example.com