2014 Infiniti QX70 — the manufacturer calls it a bionic cheetah
The new QX70 pulled into my driveway and I thought, where have I seen that car before? Ah, yes. This used to be the FX35 or FX45; at least, it was until this year. Infiniti is on a roll in this naming business – or, I should say, name-changing business. What is old is new and is old again. Same car, different name. I guess it’s a marketing thing, but suffice to say that the gods of Nissan (Infiniti’s corporate parent) have decreed that we civilians must get used to the new name. Ok. We got it. The irony is that they already had our attention, 10 years ago, when they introduced the V6-powered FX35 and the more robust (V8 engine) FX45. The design was intriguing then and is intriguing now because the FX series (now dubbed QX70) really doesn’t look like any other car on the road, save, perhaps, its more conservative-looking cousin, the Nissan Murano. The QX is nominally a sport crossover, but Infiniti clearly wanted to leave the impression of a car that was an elegant brute, a muscular metrosexual. Before we get too carried away with artful descriptions of the FX/QX, Nissan itself described their new progeny as a “bionic cheetah” and auto writer Ezra Dyer once likened it to a “jacked-up extraterrestrial insect” and added that he meant that as a compliment.
What makes the QX stand out is what I can only describe as its flowing, muscular lines. Look at how the front fenders bulge slightly – it’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger in a $2,000 tuxedo, big shoulders expensively covered. The whole car gives the impression of a svelte football player in excellent shape and ready for bear (or cheetah, for that matter.)
The car we had was the 2014 QX70 all-wheel-drive with the 3.7-liter, 325-horsepower V6. It’s plenty fast and makes you wonder why anyone would want the available 5-liter V8, which sucks down the gas at a more alarming rate (14/20 mpg city/highway) than the V6-engined car (16/22 mpg city/highway). There’s also the price factor. The least expensive QX70, a rear-wheel-drive V6 car, starts at under $45,000. The AWD V6 version we drove started at $46,400 and, by the time it was optioned up, the sticker price was $57,945. It’s a lot for a wagon, but, then again, it’s difficult to find a wagon that looks like a pregnant praying mantis. (There we go again. The QX, by its nature, lends itself to the odd outré description.)
Inside, it’s pretty much a comfortable luxury wagon that will go long distances without much strain. The instruments are well laid out – the usual two round dials for tachometer and speedometer right in front of the driver – and the center stack, with the all-purpose eight-inch nav screen/rear-view camera, is designed to be visible but not obtrusive.
The options, nearly $10,000 worth, are startling in their prices but once you see them in action you think of them as all of a piece in this high-end luxury car. The technology package ($2,950) gives you all the electronic inventions we’ve come to love, such as lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and rain-sensing wipers, among other things; the “Deluxe Touring Package” ($3,300) brings us 20-inch wheels, aluminum pedals, quilted leather seats that are heated and ventilated (this seems a pretty high price for all this); and the “Premium Package,” with its premium price of $4,300, brings the more tangible goodies, such as navigation, “Around View® Monitor with Moving Object Detection and Front and Rear Sonar,” Bluetooth for streaming audio, the CD/DVD in-dash player, tilt-telescoping steering column and on and on until the electrons fade into the sunset. (Anyone making a plain old car any more?)
On the road, the QX70 is quiet, quiet (all that padding) until you floor it. Then you hear the distinct roar of that V6 and it’s apparent that Infiniti did not want to muffle the noise, something they easily could have done. It sounds like a performance car and it makes this a distinctly go-get-’em kind of wagon. Car and Driver magazine did zero to 60 in 6.1 seconds on last year’s FX37 (essentially the same car) and hit a top speed of 142 mph. A hundred and forty-two in a crossover? Did the lapels on the tuxedo start flapping?
There are, of course, other crossovers or SUVs in this luxo pantheon – Acura, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW all come to mind. But none of them has that distinctive, preying animal look of the QX70.
Maybe it really is a bionic cheetah.