2016 Infiniti QX60 AWD
Midsize crossover appeals to the driver in all of us
By Nina Russin
We all hate that point in life when we have to jump the shark, and be more pragmatic in our choice of vehicle.
The guys at Infiniti get this, and they’ve come up with a remarkably good solution: the midsize QX60 all-wheel drive crossover. For active families or couples who have a lot of gear to haul around, the QX fills all the squares. Seating for seven: check. Large configurable cargo area: check. All-wheel drive for off-road and four-season performance: check and check.
But here’s the best part: get behind the wheel and the QX60 is a hoot to drive, with a powerful 3.5-liter V-6 engine, a really good continuously variable automatic transmission (seriously, really good), and traction to all four wheels.
The QX60 isn’t cheap, with pricing for the all-wheel drive test car starting at $44,400. There are three option packages on the test car, a technology package including active safety features such as blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, backup collision intervention and forward emergency braking; upgraded Bose audio system and a theater package that adds an around-view monitor, Bluetooth streaming audio, navigation, eight-inch touchscreen and automatic wipers.
Final MSRP is $58,845, putting the QX60 right in the middle of the luxury segment. In this writer’s opinion, it’s worth the money. Read the rest of this entry »
2015 Infiniti QX80
Flagship full-size sport-utility vehicle
By Nina Russin
The QX80 is Infiniti’s offering for large families who don’t want to sacrifice style for interior space. With seating for up to seven passengers and a powerful 5.6-liter aluminum direct injection V-8 engine, Infiniti’s full-size sport utility vehicle is essentially a Lear jet for the open road.
The Limited grade raises the bar further with unique exterior colors accented by dark chrome trim and dark 22-inch wheels, semi-aniline leather interior, all-wheel drive with snow mode and tow mode, self-leveling suspension, electronically controlled two-speed transfer case and adaptive headlamps.
Base price for the Limited is $88,850. Final MSRP including the $995 destination charge is $89,845. Read the rest of this entry »
2015 Infiniti Q60S
Sport coupe elevates the art of driving
By Nina Russin
Sometimes a car makes the driver wish he would never have to leave the wheel. The Infiniti Q60S sport coupe is one of those cars.
A 330-horsepower V-6 engine is the coupe’s ace-in-the-hole: lead chair in a symphony that also includes a six-speed manual gearbox, aluminum-based four-wheel independent suspension, dual exhausts, and ventilated disc brakes. All ride in a front midship platform derived from the OEM’s formula racing experience.
For 2015, Infiniti adds two S Limited grades to the Q60 palette with sport seats, a special steering wheel and aluminum pedals. Standard convenience features include leather upholstery, 12-way driver’s and 8-way front passenger power seats, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, navigation with real-time weather and traffic updates, rearview camera, Bluetooth interface, satellite radio, high-intensity discharge headlamps and LED tail lamps.
Base price for the Q60S Limited with the six-speed manual transmission is $47,700 excluding the $905 destination charge. Options on the test car include pearl white exterior paint, floor and cargo mats with a first aid kit and kick plates, bringing the final MSRP to $49,575. Read the rest of this entry »
2015 Infiniti QX70 Sport
Sporty crossover built for the open road
By Nina Russin
The 350-mile drive between Phoenix and Los Angeles is best described as four hours of watching paint dry with rush hour at either end. It is as stressful as it is dull. Any car that can make the drive fun is a masterpiece. Enter the Infiniti QX70: a powerful, rear-wheel drive crossover that fits the bill perfectly.
On the open road, it is an effortless car to drive, with active safety features such as lane departure warning, intelligent cruise control and adaptive front lighting. When opportunities permit, the QX70 offers the driving dynamics of a sport sedan, with a wide aggressive stance, precise steering feedback, dynamic suspension and firm, linear breaking. It really is the total package.
The test car that I drove to Los Angeles for the annual auto show media preview starts at $45,850 excluding the $995 destination charge. The technology package that includes the above described safety features adds $2,950. A premium option adds navigation, eight-inch touchscreen display, around vision monitor, Bluetooth and roof rails. Finally, the sport package includes 21-inch wheels and low profile tires, a blacked out front grille, fog lamps, side air vents, special interior trim, driver and front passenger sport seats, formula-style paddle shifters and aluminum pedals. Final MSRP is $58,085. Read the rest of this entry »
2014 Infiniti Q60S Convertible Hardtop
Two-plus-two entices driving enthusiasts
By Nina Russin
I’m driving the Infiniti Q60S on a freeway east of Scottsdale, Arizona, listening to Beethoven’s fifth symphony and thinking about Alex and the droogs. Those who remember Anthony Burgess’ novel, “A Clockwork Orange,” will recall that Alex and his band of teenage hoodlums were great fans of Beethoven, whose music was the catalyst for their bad behavior.
Sitting behind the wheel of Infiniti’s seductive convertible hardtop, the droogs’ behavior makes perfect sense to me. Beethoven is to classical music what chocolate is to food. I can feel the endorphins traveling from my brain to my right foot, which seems to be digging deeper and deeper into the throttle. With its 325-horsepower V-6 engine and six-speed manual gearbox, the Q60S is the type of car that makes drivers want to go fast regardless of the consequences.
As a driving enthusiast, I have a passion for visceral, if slightly impractical cars. The Q60S that replaces Infiniti’s G37 models is just that. In typical two-plus-two fashion, the rear seats are more a nod to insurance companies than function. The retractable hardtop takes up most of the trunk space, leaving the rear seats as primary stowage for cargo.
But who cares? The Q60S is a joy to drive: fast and nimble. And it’s not too hard on the eyes either. The hardtop offers the advantage of better insulation for temperature extremes and noise reduction. It deploys at the push of a toggle switch on the center console. The same switch also lowers the windows.
Standard nineteen-inch wheels with summer performance tires eat up the road. Cornering is almost too much fun.
Base price for the test car is $52,750, excluding the $905 destination charge. Standard convenience features include keyless entry and start, leather heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, a rearview monitor, Bluetooth interface, satellite radio, bi-xenon headlamps and voice recognition. Final MSRP is $53,655. Read the rest of this entry »
2013 Infiniti FX37
Five-passenger crossover gets power enhancement
By Nina Russin
Infiniti’s rear-wheel drive crossover has gained some extra muscle, thanks to a new 3.7-liter engine which replaces the former 3.6-liter block. The 327-horsepower engine is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission with sport mode. Fuel economy averages 19 miles-per-gallon: about three miles-per-gallon more than the V-8 all-wheel drive model.
The 2013 FX also gains moving object detection as part of the around-view monitoring system. The around-view system uses four wide-angle cameras mounted on the front, rear and sides of the vehicle to project a bird’s-eye view when the driver shifts into reverse. An audible chime makes it easier for the driver to notice cross traffic passing in back of the vehicle, or a child below the driver’s sight-line.
Base price is $44,300, excluding the $950 delivery charge.
The test car comes with three option packages: technology, which adds intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning and adaptive front lighting ($2950); touring, including 20-inch rims, quilted leather seating, heated and cooled front seats, maple interior trim and aluminum pedals ($3300); and a premium package which adds hard drive navigation with real-time weather and traffic updates, an eight-inch touchscreen, the around-view monitor, streaming Bluetooth audio, tilt-and-telescoping steering column and aluminum roof rails ($4300). Final MSRP is $55,800. Read the rest of this entry »
2013 Infiniti JX35 FWD
Seven-passenger crossover with sporty performance
By Nina Russin
Infiniti always puts the driver front and center. The 2013 JX crossover which debuted at last year’s LA auto show offers driving enthusiasts with large families an alternative to full-sized sport-utility vehicles.
The JX has a smaller footprint than the full-sized Infiniti QX, despite similar passenger and cargo capabilities. The test car fit in my garage with room to spare.
As the brand’s new halo, the JX also offers some innovative safety features, including backup collision intervention, which automatically applies the brakes if the driver fails to see an obstacle in back of the car.
The “35” designation indicates engine size: in this case, a 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 265 horsepower. The standard continuously-variable transmission can function as a traditional step transmission when the driver shifts into “sport” mode.
Base price is $40,450 for the front-wheel drive model, excluding the $950 destination charge. The test car has five option packages, which add the backup collision intervention feature, blind spot monitoring, keyless start, roof rails, rear-seat DVD, 20-inch wheels, Bose surround-sound audio system, heated and cooled front seats, navigation, enhanced internet features and around-view cameras. Final MSRP is $54,070. Read the rest of this entry »
2012 Infiniti FX50 AWD
Five-passenger performance crossover is ready for take-off
By Nina RussinImagine a panther on steroids. Think about the size of his haunches and his paws. Would you care about how much food it takes to keep this panther full and happy? I doubt it.
This is why I don’t particularly care that the new Infiniti FX performance crossover is a bit fuel thirsty. As any endurance athlete knows, it’s important to feed the beast. And considering what the vehicle is capable of, 17.8 miles-per-gallon isn’t too bad.
The FX50’s V-8 engine develops almost 400 horsepower and 369 foot-pounds of torque. Accelerating from zero-to-sixty feels like bungee jumping off a cliff.
Mammoth wheel arches house the crossover’s standard 21-inch alloy wheels. Other performance highlights include a seven-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection and downshift rev matching, four-piston front calipers, speed sensitive steering and dual exhausts. The exhaust note during hard acceleration is symphonic.
The five-liter V-8 is one of two available engines for the Infiniti FX. Buyers of a more practical bent can opt for the 3.5-liter V-6, which comes with the same transmission.
Base price for the FX50 all-wheel drive model is $59,350, excluding the $895 delivery charge. There are three options on the test car: a technology package which adds intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning, adaptive front lighting and rain-sensing windshield wipers ($2900); illuminated kick plates ($300); and a sport package including real-time damping control, rear active steer, front sport seats, a driver’s seat with power bolster adjustment and some unique exterior trim ($3100). MSRP is $66,545. Read the rest of this entry »
2012 Infiniti M35h
Hybrid sedan for driving enthusiasts
By Nina Russin
Although hybrid vehicles are by no means a new idea, engineers continue to develop new performance matrices using the combined attributes of gas engines and electric motors. Unlike the first generation of hybrid sedans, fuel economy improvements in newer models sometimes take a back seat to power. This isn’t to say that the hybrid cars don’t outperform their gasoline-powered counterparts in terms of gas mileage; rather that they may well out-accelerate those cars as well.
Infiniti’s new M35h sedan is a case in point. Because electric motors develop maximum torque at extremely low speeds, the gasoline-electric M produces neck-snapping acceleration off the line, worthy of a top fuel car. The fact that it also averages 32 miles-per-gallon on the highway as compared to the gasoline-powered M’s 26 is an added bonus.
The closest hybrid technology to the M35h is probably Porsche’s, as seen in the Cayenne Hybrid. In both cases, the vehicle can operate at extremely high speeds on pure electric power. In the case of the M35h, top speed in electric mode is 62 miles-per-hour, with a range of 1.2 miles before the gas engine cuts in.
Base price on the M35h is $53,700, not including an $895 destination charge. The test car comes with a premium package which adds semi aniline leather seats, a Bose 5.1 surround-sound audio system, wood accents, a suede headliner and power rear sunshade ($3800). A technology package includes Infiniti’s hard drive navigation system with XM real time traffic and weather updates, climate controlled front seats and a heated steering wheel ($3350). A trunk mat and first aid kit cost $200, while an 18-inch wheel package adds $650. Illuminated kick plates priced at $360 bring the total cost as tested to $62,955. Read the rest of this entry »
2011 Infiniti G37 Sedan 6MT
Versatile sport sedan for driving enthusiasts
By Nina RussinI have a soft place in my heart for Infiniti’s G sport sedans. The G37’s emotive styling and powerful, sure-footed performance meets the visceral needs of driving enthusiasts.
At the same time, a versatile interior, spacious trunk and tech-savvy features including Bluetooth, XM real-time traffic alerts, keyless start and navigation make the sedan a practical choice for commuters in large urban areas.
Power for the G37 comes from a 328 horsepower V-6 engine, mated to a close ratio six-speed manual transmission. Both the block and heads are aluminum, to keep weight off the chassis. The sedan’s hood is also aluminum, for the same reason.
By locating the engine behind the front axle, engineers achieved a near-perfect front-to-rear weight balance: 53/47 in the sport model tested. Because of the engine’s high compression ratio, the G37 requires 91 octane premium unleaded gasoline.
The sport is the only grade which comes with a manual gearbox in lieu of an automatic transmission. Base price is $39,450, not including the $875 destination charge. High friction brake pads on the test car add $370, bringing the MSRP to $40,695. Read the rest of this entry »