2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited Road Test

Have you ever wondered why something can be the best thing since sliced bread one day and all of a sudden yesterday’s has-been?
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
Subtle new styling details modernize the QX70 for 2017. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The car industry is sometimes hard on modern-day classics, or rather new vehicles that haven’t been updated in a while. Infiniti’s QX70 falls into this category, but really it deserves much more attention than it gets.

When its predecessor and this second-generation model were created in 2002 and 2009 respectively, Infiniti followed all premium “rules” to a tee and then some, while most competitors took the cheaper, easier route of basing their luxury branded SUVs on mainstream mid-size family sedans. The original QX70 was formed on the back of the Q60 sports coupe’s predecessor, which continues to share underpinnings with Nissan’s 370Z sports car, and in essence became the industry’s first sport utility coupe, much to BMW’s disagreement.

2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
Always a looker, the QX70 was the original sport utility coupe. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
that note I’m a fan of this unusual class of SUV, and still lamenting the loss of Acura’s quirky ZDX while concerned the X6 will soon follow suit if U.S. sales remain as poor as they are. BMW sold just 7,117 examples of the current second-gen X6 south of the 49th last year, while Infiniti was close behind with 6,261 QX70s. Unfortunately Mercedes doesn’t separate sales of its new GLE Coupe from the more upright GLE, so we can’t tell you if it’s flying out the door or floundering, but it likely did better last year than Acura’s best-ever 3,259 ZDX sales in 2010, so it’s probably here to stay (for awhile anyway).

Canada’s “SUC” sales aren’t much different, although the X6 sold much better here per capita last year with 1,178 deliveries compared to 481 QX70s. Acura’s best
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
QX70 performance matches its sporty appearance. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
ZDX sales were in 2010 resulting in 863 units, the same year the QX70 sold 1,085, although we have to go way back to 2004 to see Infiniti’s best sales in this segment at 2,318 deliveries. With 481 units last year the QX70 beat a few other mid-size crossover SUVs including Volvo’s discontinued XC70 that just managed 218, Maserati’s new Levante at 187, Lincoln’s ultra-dud MKT at 102, Bentley’s ultra-pricey new Bentayga at 95, and Acura’s ZDX at 2 (yes, they were still trying to pawn these off last year despite being cancelled in 2013).

If you’re thinking QX70 numbers are low, take a look at the same class of four-door sedan and you’ll quickly see that even these slow-selling SUVs are doing significantly better,
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
A new mesh grille design is standard across the QX70 line. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
with Infiniti’s Q70 luxury sedan finding just 156 buyers last year, Acura’s RLX a mere 107, and Volvo’s new S90 at just 101 units after a partial year albeit the outgoing S80 at just 23, while the QX70 also outsold all three BMW 6 Series models that could only find 458 buyers, the Lexus GS at 415 units, Maserati’s Ghibli at 318, Porsche’s Panamera at 300, Cadillac’s CT6 at 250, plus Lincoln’s MKS at 198 and its new Continental at 174. I must say the sporty Infiniti SUV is starting to look like a rarified success right about now, isn’t it?

On thing’s for sure, at six years since its mid-cycle update and nine since this second-gen version arrived it’s certainly paid for itself, and being that it’s a relative rarity on the road it still looks new and fresh, at least to my eyes. It helps that Infiniti pushed the styling limits when it debuted,
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
The QX70’s scalloped headlamps have always been standout design details. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
and that it’s first mild makeover made it look even better than new. First makeover?

Yes, few vehicles get two mid-cycle updates within a model lifecycle, but Infiniti has smartly given the QX70 a subtle refresh for 2017. While only the grille and front fascia are affected the changes make a big difference, with the double-arched grille insert going from four chromed strakes to a nice glossy dark grey metallic mesh, and the lower fascia totally renewed with horizontal LED fog lamps replacing the big chrome-ringed ovals, plus a sharp looking metallic undertray spanning the space in between. Together with two of the most uniquely shaped headlamp clusters in the industry, four of the most beautiful pewter-grey multi-spoke 21-inch alloys in existence, stylish dark clear lensed LED taillights, and
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
New Limited trim boasts a unique metallic lower fascia undertray and horizontal LED fog lamps. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
two fat tailpipes poking out of a matte black diffuser-style rear bumper cap, this QX70 is a formidable looking sport utility, with the emphasis clearly on sport.

The 21-inch wheels, revised front fascia, and dark-tint taillights are actually part of a completely new range-topping trim level dubbed Limited, the more basic QX70 models sticking with smaller rims and the old round fogs embedded within a matte black lower fascia panel. Additional Limited upgrades include body-colour fender vents on the outside, and absolutely stunning two-tone black and light “stone” grey diamond-quilted upholstery inside. Really, my QX70 Limited tester had me hot and flustered at first sight, a good thing that its perforated hides can be cooled by forced ventilation, while its similarly quilted black leather door inserts and centre armrest, stunning
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
The QX70 Limited’s details catch the eye. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
open-pore hardwood inlays, and eye-arresting aluminum flake detailing had me in awestruck adoration during the entire test.

Truly, it’s hard to imagine something that looks so aggressively sculpted and overtly muscular from the outside being so luxuriously refined inside, but Infiniti has taken the QX70 Limited to new limits, so to speak. I’m not going to pretend it’s as up-to-date as the Germans when it comes to electronics, this a weak spot that I might as well get out of the way immediately. While the Japanese luxury brand pulls no punches when it comes to Bentley-esque luxury, with most areas not already surfaced in leather, wood, piano black lacquer or metal, finished in high-quality
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
Grey-painted multi-spoke 21-inch alloys to die for. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
soft synthetics, but it suffers from yesteryear’s primary gauge cluster and infotainment interface.

Ahead of the driver is a classic two-dial gauge package that admittedly still looks good thanks to backlit electroluminescent meters, but its small, monochromatic trip computer won’t win anyone over who’s ever used any sort of smartphone. The infotainment system on the centre stack is comparatively well done, with generally appealing graphics, good crisp definition, nice depth of colour and contrast, and decent functionality. It features navigation, an excellent backup camera that splits the screen into a rearward view on the left and overhead view on the right, both providing dynamic guidelines for visible parking assist. The system is missing some features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it should
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
Dark lensed LED taillights are standard on Sport and Limited trims. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
suffice for the majority of infotainment requirements, while the controls just below are nicely laid out with large quick-access buttons and a sharp looking knurled metal edged rotating controller at centre.

The fact that my eyes more readily landed on the analog clock just below says a lot, however, about my love of horology and the QX70’s link to the past, its unique elliptical case shape reminiscent of Davidoff’s “Very Zino” collection of well-made albeit unorthodox mechanical watches. Really, Infiniti should consider a co-branded effort with Davidoff, as the two brands are comparative startups when placed beside industry stalwarts such as Mercedes-Benz and Rolex, plus their wonderfully individualistic designs and impressive build quality would be a good match.

2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
A black and "stone" grey duo-tone interior that will leave you slack-jawed. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
that note some of the QX70’s knobs and switches could use an upgrade. Their quality is fine, as is their tightness and general damping, but in a market that’s using ever more jeweled metals like the infotainment controller above, simple round rubberized knobs don’t give off the level of premium pampering expected in the class.

Many of the segment’s expected features are present with the well-priced $53,990 base model, including auto on/off HID headlights, proximity-sensing access, pushbutton ignition, stainless steel treadplates, aluminum foot pedals, power-folding heatable side mirrors with courtesy lights, speed-sensitive variable-intermittent flat-blade wipers, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a powered tilt and telescopic steering column, dual-zone auto climate control, a rearview camera, 11-speaker Bose audio with satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
Few SUVs offer as plush a cabin. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
connectivity and streaming audio, a powered USB port, quilted leather upholstery, heatable eight-way powered front seats with memory and with two-way driver’s lumbar, a powered glass sunroof, a powered liftgate, a retractable cargo cover, a cargo net, aluminum roof rails, and more standard, including the climate-controlled front seats noted earlier.

Mid-range Sport trim, at $60,950, adds a different set of 21-inch wheels, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with an integrated HomeLink garage door opener, a larger 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with voice recognition, navigation and XM NavTraffic, the 360-degree parking monitor with moving object detection, front and rear parking sensors, a black headliner, and more, all of which are pulled up to Limited trim, although specific to the Sport are cornering headlights with auto-leveling, exclusive front sport seats with manual thigh extensions, four-way powered side bolster-adjustment for the driver’s seat, and plenty of dark exterior trim.

2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
The QX70’s most glaring weakness is a dated looking multi-info display. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
unique to $62,950 Limited trim include the richer “deep pillow” quilted two-tone upholstery with stone-grey contrast stitching and piping, all the interior and exterior details already noted, a clear-lens high mount stop lamp (CHMSL), a stainless steel rear bumper protector, and more.

The only available option is a $3,500 Technology package for Sport and Limited trims that adds cornering headlights with auto-leveling, adaptive cruise control with full-speed range, rain-sensing wipers, intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning, lane departure warning and lane departure prevention, and front pre-crash seatbelts. Still, together with the previously noted electronic omissions a fully loaded QX70 lacks a number of now common top-tier features such as full LED
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
The large infotainment touchscreen includes a superb 360-degree surround parking camera. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
headlamps with auto high beams, rear seat heaters, a nice large panoramic sunroof, and enough active safety kit to earn it Top Safety Pick status from the IIHS.

It’s certainly not missing out on power, however, the QX70’s standard engine a 3.7-litre V6 good for 325 horsepower, although its 267 lb-ft of torque seems a bit low compared to most of the segment’s turbocharged powertrains. Infiniti could remedy this shortcoming with its new twin-turbo 3.0-litre that’s already tuned to achieve 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque in top trim, this potentially silencing QX70 fans missing the 390 horsepower 5.0-litre V8 that was discontinued
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
We love the QX70’s elliptical analog clock. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
for the 2015 model year, but so far no news on adapting the new powertrains to this aging model. For this reason the QX70 remains less fuel-efficient than it could be at 14.6 L/100km city and 10.7 highway.

As it is the QX70 feels plenty energetic out on the road, with its standard ATTESA ET-S (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain with Electronic Torque Split) all-wheel drive system, first developed for the Skyline GT-R that has since transformed into the all-conquering Godzilla (aka GT-R), also a Nissan FM (front-midships) rear-wheel drive platform like the QX70. ATTESA ET-S apportions torque to the wheels with the best traction, with up to 50-percent of twist going to
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
A sporty shifter is joined by heated and cooled seat controls, beautiful quilted upholstery and a gorgeous aluminum flake surface treatment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
the front wheels when needed. Thanks to not locking torque to the front wheels the QX70 performs like the rear-wheel drive sports ute it inherently is, so therefore it’s very entertaining through the corners.

That’s where its impressive seven-speed automatic comes into play, the only transmission of its type to incorporate Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) and Drive Sport (DS) mode with Downshift Rev Matching (DRM), the latter technology automatically synchronizing engine revs to a chosen lower gear in order to ideally mesh the two together, similar to how a driving pro blips the throttle while downshifting a manual gearbox ahead of a curve. The result is superior control that doesn’t need much if any direct engagement by the driver, a good thing as Infiniti
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
These seats are fabulous looking and extremely comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
neglected to include the solid magnesium paddle shifters from Sport trim on the Limited. Just put it in Drive and the gearbox selects the engine’s ideal sweet spot every time, the rewarding driveline nicely supported by the rest of the QX70’s fully independent fully independent double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension hardware, with stabilizer bars at both ends, electronic traction and stability systems, highly reactive vehicle-speed-sensitive power steering, big 12.6-inch front and 12.1-inch rear ventilated discs, and of course those big 265/45R21 Bridgestone Dueler V-rated all-seasons at each corner that do as much for handling as they do for braking.

This is an SUV that sport sedan fans will feel right at home in, the seating position even finding a happy medium between taller utes and lower-slung cars resulting in
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
Second row has plenty of room for three. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
outward visibility that’s similar to the former and road-holding that’s more akin to the latter. OK, rear visibility is more sports coupe-like due to narrow tapering rear quarter windows and relatively small black glass, but it’s an SUC after all, the QX70 providing better all-round visibility than others in this class.

It’s a bit short on rear cargo space, mind you, but once again only when compared to conventional five-passenger SUVs. The numbers read 702 litres (24.8 cubic feet) behind the 60/40-split second row, which is a helluvalot more capacity than a Q60 or any other type of sports coupe, and nearly twice as much as an equivalent sport sedan, while none of the above can hope to measure up to the QX70’s 1,755 litres (62.0 cubic feet) of available hauling space when those seats are laid flat. The X6, for instance, provides just 580 litres (20.5 cubic feet) behind
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
The QX70’s cargo hold is the largest in the sport utility coupe class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
its more versatile 40/20/40-split rear seats and 1,525 litres (53.8 cubic feet) when they’re tumbled forward, and the newer GLE Coupe only does slightly better with 651 litres (23.0 cubic feet) and 1,719 litres (60.7 cubic feet) respectively, so the QX70 is the clear winner here.

The rear seating area plays out in a similar scenario, being slightly smaller than conventional SUVs and similar if not larger than its more coupe-like competitors, especially when it comes to rear headroom. When the driver’s seat was positioned for my five-foot-eight frame I had about five inches in front of my knees and a good five-to-six above my head, while there was plenty of space from side to side. Additionally there was easily enough room for three across, because the centre position wasn’t raised too high, the QX70 being a true five-seater. There’s still a tunnel
2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
Can you think of another sport coupe that can haul this much? The QX70 has always been a smart performance alternative. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
down the middle of the floor due to the central driveshaft, but it’s not too wide and was therefore plenty comfortable in back no matter the seating position.

As you can probably tell I love this iconic road warrior, and I really like what Infiniti has done with this top-line Limited edition. I think they should have included some of the features standard with Sport trim, particularly the paddle shifters, but as noted the transmission does an excellent job of picking the right shift points all on its own and the shift lever offers manual control if you prefer taking over, while combining Sport and Limited upgrades would increase the asking price beyond its very reasonable starting point. In comparison the X6 and GLE Coupe start at $16,910 and $24,010 more respectively, and quickly skyrocket when adding similar features as my QX70 tester, making this Infiniti a much better value.

Of course, that’s nothing new, the Japanese brand normally priced much more competitively than its German and even Japanese competitors. If you want something truly different and plenty exclusive, that’ll make peoples’ heads turn as you drive by, the new QX70 Limited is a standout SUV that deserves your attention.
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