I guess you could say what’s going on here is that Infiniti is finding their path to bigger profits. Wink wink, nudge nudge, ka-ching ka-ching, etc.
Just cast your eye over the range of the company that aspires to be the Japanese BMW. We’ve got a tech-laden sport sedan that’s available with a 400 hp twin-turbo V6. Interesting. We’ve got a schnozz-tastic crossover with genuine sporting appeal. Neat, but getting a bit old. We’ve got a lux-o-fied version of the tough overseas-only Nissan Patrol, albeit with some pretty questionable styling. Ugh, fender vents; but at least it’s fast.
And which of them sells the best? None! Instead, the volume leader is a softly sprung seven-seater with a CVT. To-date this year, one-third of all Infinitis sold are QX60s. That’s beyond a bread-and-butter model: that’s the spinal column of a brand.
At the end of a long and glorious week with the Shelby GT350, one which left me with a permanent grin and tinnitus, I pulled the child seat out of the back of the Mustang and plonked it into the middle-row of the QX. The look on my face was not one of deep and lasting satisfaction.
My kid, on the other hand, climbed in and said, “Hey, there are little TV screens right there [in the headrests]! I like TV! I think this car is cool now, as cool as the Mustang.”
Naturally, I immediately sold her to a passing circus. Sad, of course, but it had to be done.
Anyway, the point is that while sporting intent makes great marketing material, the vast majority of people would prefer soft composure. Effortlessness. Parents want their kids to be quiet and happy in the car (especially the quiet part). Passengers don’t care about cornering grip or steering feedback, they’d just prefer the seats were comfy and the stereo at least half-decent.
Just as Nissan’s softening of the Pathfinder from body-on-frame SUV into crossover has resulted in a favourable reaction from the buying public, so too has Infiniti’s least-sporty offering become a sales success. The similarity should be no surprise either, as they’re essentially the same vehicle. The Infiniti version comes with more luxury, more styling, and a less comprehensible name. A win for the sales department. Call it the PathNicer.
That’s more styling, by the way, not better styling. While the curving sheetmetal of the Infiniti design language works pretty well on the nose of this thing, I’m not so sure about the tail end. I like the way the dipsy-doodle rear window squiggle mirrors the spoiler in profile, but trying to inject curviness into the Pathfinder’s blunt buttocks hasn’t really worked. The dark navy – Hermosa Blue, if you’re interested – smooths things out.
See also: 2014 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid
18-inch wheels are standard on the car, though this one came with the larger 20s of the Deluxe Touring Package. Tire width is the same 235mm in either case. If you don’t like the idea of shelling out for replacement 20-inch wheels, or for 20-inch snow tires, Infiniti’s packaging lets you option up the car with quite a bit of gear before they add the larger-diameter wheels on. You can have navigation, front and rear sonar, automatic cruise control, a 13-speaker Bose audio system, and the excellent top-down around-view camera system, all while still riding on 18s.