WORLD CUP OF CROSSOVERS?
2014 Infiniti QX60
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Wed, Jul 30, 2014
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Zoran Segina
In mathematics, it is known as the Mapertius' principle of least action. It stands for the proposition that the smallest number of movements generally suffices to accomplish an objective. In car reviewer's world it is known as a senior moment, or calcium deposit works (as in pre-frontal cortex) and, frankly, the Mapertius' principle sounds heck of lot more sophisticated.
The application of the principle is triggered by my inability to close the moon roof on the brand new 2014 Infiniti QX60. I am pushing the button that slides a huge cover of the panoramic glass in the rear without any effect on a separate moon roof above the front seats. After ten minutes of trying, which involves flipping through a detailed manual, I conclude that some relay must have failed. Early next morning, I will drive to the Infiniti dealership two blocks away to have it checked.
Everything in the Santa Monica Infiniti dealership exudes high class. The company strives to impart a sense of upscale while the owners wait for their cars. Service manager Jerome treats me like I belong to a private club, while directing me to the waiting area furnished with comfortable leather chairs, satellite TV, trays of cookies and freshly made coffee. As far as I am concerned, they can overhaul the transmission.
Thirty minutes later, the QX60 is ready. I follow Jerome to the immaculately clean service area, where I meet Ernie, one of the mechanics. After we get in the car, Ernie gently presses the second button, right below the one I have been abusing the evening before. The moon roof quietly slides into the place. And here is the scariest part: I obviously used that very button to open the moon roof.
In retrospect, I begin to understand what happened (beyond senior amnesia). The QX60 is studded with sensors and switches to assist the driver. Most operations are either fully automatic or require but a gentle touch of a single switch (a la Ernie). A button on the door opens and locks the car. Ditto for rear gate. Mirrors can be collapsed if the QX60 is parked in tight spaces and will pivot down when shifting in reverse. This also activates three different cameras - standard back view, bird's eye, or curbside view on split screen with yellow guidelines to shows which way the wheels are turned and the direction of travel. Below 5 mph, the driver can also engage the front camera. While inching toward a barrier in the rear - a garage wall - the warning beeper gets progressively louder and, at one point, the system overrides the driver’s input, and physically stops the car as if to say: "I am giving you one more chance."
Once underway, with cruise control on, the driver can set radar sensors to keep the QX60 within the predetermined distance from the car ahead. The sensors will adjust the speed when the traffic slows down, and send a warning signal if the cars begins to veer out of lane. The yellow lights on the A pillars quietly flash if another cars appears in the blind spot. After having driven twenty miles in freeway traffic I realize that for the past quarter of an hour I never touched a gas or a brake. The QX60 feels like a giant automated safety envelope. It is that technological sophistication which led me to conclude that one control runs both roofs. The simple existence of the second switch never crossed my mind.
The recently concluded World Cup Soccer Tournament in Brazil brings to mind upscale soccer moms who can use the three rows of seats in the QX60 to transport their players in luxury. Front seat headrests have built in TV screens so that the team can be entertained. Future champions have their own climate control as well as a standard 12V charging outlet and a 150 watt, 120V AC plug. A single action lever collapses outer seats forward for access to the third row (reversing the operation, however, is a two-step process.) With the third row occupied there is still space behind for luggage with four hooks and a compartment underneath.
Therein may lie the reason why the U.S. team never advanced beyond the first round. In many countries, future soccer champions come from the barrios and favelas. Here, our kids have a uniform, cleats, several balls, practice cones and whole bunch of gear. Over there some kids have no running water. But their motivation to turn into the next Lionel Messi (an Argentinian superstar) is very, very high.
Despite the fact that the door sills on the QX60 are illuminated with glowing Infiniti letters, climbing in and out presents a challenge for non-agile users. Guided by its all-terrain capability, this crossover utility carrier has a high entry step. This leaves the Tall Girl with a bruise on her left calf. For the sake of maintaining a good relationship with the manufacturer, we’ll omit her rather vocal opinion about the QX60 ground clearance. A solution is found in form of an inverted clay pot stowed in the cargo space which she can use as a step stool. Otherwise, I better park very close to the curb. Thank heavens for side cameras.
Despite its three rows of seating and high stance, the QX60 does not feel like a minivan. The 3.5 liter, six-cylinder, 265 HP powerplant, twenty-inch wheels and firm suspension eat any imperfections on the road. And fast. Behind the shifter, a rotary button allows the environmentally conscious driver to switch between “normal,” “sport,” “snow” and “eco” mode thus combining all-terrain capability and care about the planet earth. But the “eco” mode changes the engine mapping too much, and makes the QX60 sluggish. Navigating through traffic forces me to mash the gas pedal into the floor, and probably use more gas. Chasing a traffic opening, however, I switch to “sport” mode and the two-ton guy turns into a sporty performer, with the engine roaring and very stable handling, albeit with a high center of gravity. There is a certain Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde element in the QX60’s performance.
The ride is very comfortable on longer roads. Even the Tall Girl admits that the QX60 rides smoothly. Moms, soccer or not, love the car. Amy and Adriana are particularly fond of it as they climb in and out and check all gadgets. And, very importantly, they guess the price of the QX60 within few thousand dollars showing that the prospective customers are ready to accept the price for the value.
There are critics, though. Gene is pointing to a crease which forms around his finger pressed into the leather-covered seats in the rear, but not in the front. To a connoisseur, this indicates an uneven grade of leather on interior surfaces. Annie finds the feel of the leather cheap, almost plastic-like, and criticizes uneven stitching on the steering wheel. While minor in nature, at this price point, these imperfections are unacceptable.
The last day test drive. Joy and Mary, two moms, ride in the back. Each is raising a boy and a girl, and they are discussing pros and cons of the QX60. Joy needs (wants?) a new car based on the claim that a hundred-and-nineteen-thousand-mile transmission in her German SUV may only have a precious few weeks of useful life left. She is extolling the virtues of the QX60 in a text message to her husband: The base model is only about forty two thousand and for fifty-seven it comes fully loaded. The e-mail reply comes swiftly: “Darling, for fifty seven grand I will come fully loaded too.”
The most dramatic impact of the assistive driving technology happens while I am in my car on the 405, having just returned the QX60. I suddenly have to pay attention and keep the distance from the car ahead. I miss the lane control (Botts dots just don’t provide the same panache.) I miss speed-sensitive deceleration; I miss cameras, the bird's eye view. It is amazing how addictive these electronic devices are.
If, in time, most of the cars come equipped with these features, are we going to turn into the automotive equivalents of the Asiana pilots, so accustomed to computerized glide paths and automatic throttle controls, that they were unable to land the Boeing 767 manually, and slammed onto the runway in San Francisco? A driver's examination in Southern California is rudimentary, presumably relying on the fact that, with practice, we will acquire necessary skills. With four and five hundred horsepower engines becoming more common, and electronic babysitters for the driver, I am getting concerned.
For more information about Infiniti products, go to www.infinitiusa.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2014 Infiniti QX60 3.5 AWD Price: $42,950.00 (base) $57,240.00 (as tested) EPA fuel economy ratings (miles per gallon) 19 city/25 highway (LA Car observed: 25 mpg) Engine type: 3.5-liter gasoline engine 24-valve, double overhead cam V6 Horsepower: 265 @ 6,400 rpm Torque: 248 pound-feet @ 4,400 rpm Drive configuration: All wheel drive Transmission type: Continuously variable automatic transmission with manual shift mode and drive selector Steering: Rack and pinion; hydraulic power assist Suspension Front: Independent, strut with coil springs over shock absorbers, stabilizer bar Rear: Independent, multi-link with coil springs and shock absorbers, stabilizer bar Wheels and tires: 20-inch aluminum alloy, with 235/55 R20 102H mud and snow tires. Brakes Front: 12.6 x 1.10-inch ventilated discs Rear: 12.13 x 0.63-inch ventilated discs Dimensions Length: 196.4 inches Width: 77.2 inches Height: 68.6 inches Curb weight: 4462 lbs Performance: 0-60 in 7.8 seconds Top Speed: 121 mph (electronically limited)