Sport Utility Vehicles and crossovers ought to be practical. They should have a strong focus on the “utility” portion of their raison d’etre and to force one of these tall, roly-poly hippos-on-wheels to be anything but is an exercise in time wasting.
To that end, Infiniti’s QX70 mid-size SUV is a silly thing. Just look at it. It’s all jacked up on big wheels, the hatch back is steeply raked and the side glass looks like the slits you ought to slide a rifle muzzle through. Where’s the utility?
And yet, while I continue to finger wag and tongue-cluck at the BMW X6 “Sport Activity Coupe” or Acura’s ZDX (mercifully killed off), Infiniti’s funky little moon buggy has always gotten a pass from me.
We humans are a fickle bunch, aren’t we?
So what gives? Why is this Infiniti not the subject of ridicule and disdain? Two reasons: its looks and the driving dynamics to back up its looks.
The mid-size crossover / SUV market is a veritable Vegas buffet of choice these days. If you’re an automaker not profiting from this lucrative segment, well, just what the heck are you doing?
With so much choice, standing out from the crowd is key. Within the premium brand segment, that’s even more crucial since the purchase decision is as likely to weigh in favour of the most desirable badge or the hottest suite of technology, as it is safety or cargo carrying capacity.
In 2003 when Infiniti first pulled the wraps off the FX35 (and FX45) mid-size SUVs, it immediately stood out in a sea of SUVs that suddenly appeared staid by comparison. Those side window slits and fast-back rake to the roof perched atop big wheels made the Infiniti look more like a prop from a sci-fi movie than a rig to transport well-heeled kids to soccer practice.
Since then, the FX underwent a few facelifts (a major one in 2009 to the second generation, then a subtler one for the 2012 model year) and has a new identity under Infiniti’s current naming convention of utilizing a lot of Q’s and X’s and numbers that no longer correspond to engine size or anything resembling common sense.
That moon-buggy styling has gradually become increasingly aggressive, right up to the QX70S badass version you see here with its “murdered-out” trim and wheels.
2015 Infiniti QX70 3.7 Sport. Click image to enlarge
Typically vehicles that are as overly styled as the QX70 face polarized opinions, but the Infiniti drew only compliments and praise from those I informally polled. Folks driving more timid-looking SUVs seemed particularly interested in it, perhaps realizing that their bus-sized crossover is barely a name badge away from minivan coolness.
Or maybe those other crossover drivers just saw the speed at which the QX70 attacked an on-ramp or heard the snarly exhaust note emanating from those twin tail pipes. Either way, this is a rig that is anything but all-show-and-no-go.
Originally based on Infiniti’s celebrated G35 sport sedan (which was based on the Nissan 350Z sports car), the FX35/45 had the rear-wheel-drive starting point to build an accomplished crossover.
Today, the same holds true with the QX70S suppressing body roll better than most SUVs and keeping those massive V-rated 265/45R 21 tires connecting to the pavement with impressive grip.
2015 Infiniti QX70 3.7 Sport, dashboard, steering wheel, shifter. Click image to enlarge
There are a few other SUVs – all from premium Euro brands – that handle as well, or better than the QX70S, but they all cost more, sometimes much, much more than this ride’s $60,000 tab.
Sadly Infiniti is no longer offering the hairy-chested V8 version of their mid-sizer, relying solely now on the 3.7L V6 that sees duty in darn near everything Infiniti makes. The good news is that careful refinements over the years have made the once-coarse V6 now a stout and impressive power plant with 325 horsepower and a smoother singing voice. Torque at 267 lb-ft is less impressive than German turbocharged sixes, and requires considerable revs (5,200) to find it.