Automakers know all about the concept of pareidolia —a fancy way of saying that we humans often see “faces” in inanimate design. And given that most cars have two headlights for eyes and a grille of some sort for a mouth, designers often try to give their vehicles a personality when viewed from head on.
How, then, to explain the 2015 Infiniti QX70? Look straight at the big crossover, and you’ll see pure menace. Approach from an angle, or from the side, and you’ll see a land shark if ever there were one. This is a super stylized and stylish way to get around town.
In Sport guise, the QX70S upgrades from 18-inch aluminum wheels to 21-inch dark finish wheels, then methodically turns down the glare inside and out. The whole exterior gets the dark-finish treatment, from the grille and shark-like side vents to the fog lamp surrounds, roof rails, and mirror housings. The interior gets a dark headliner and sport seats with subtle contrast stitching.
In other words, the QX70 transforms into the type of aggressively styled vehicle that would have been an aftermarket custom job just a few years back.
Infiniti’s signature exhaust note roars out as soon as you push-button the ignition. A grumbling rumble, it hints at both the car’s performance potential and the pilot’s performance predilections. However, at 16 miles per gallon in the city, that exhaust note may also be the sound of money.
As with its aggressive exterior and its grumbling exhaust note, the QX70S has the ride quality of a vehicle intended for a specific audience. Jacked up on those 21-inch wheels, the QX70S transmits every bit of the road’s surface to the plush cabin. When the road is smooth, the ride is like glass. Potholes and speedbumps are muted but not silent, and other imperfections come through like a background soundtrack reminding you that you are at the center of the action.
And there’s plenty of action. With 325 horsepower, the standard 3.7-liter V6 has enough hustle that this high-style five-seater does not even offer a V8. The seven-speed automatic transmission is quite capable on its own, but rewards drivers who choose to shift manually with the large paddles. The transmission’s downshift rev matching puts the smooth on the power delivery around corners.
If the Infiniti has a shortcoming, it is part and parcel of its packaging. That stunning shape plays so well from the outside, but creates a cloistered cocoon inside. Slide into the driver’s seat and your worldview shrinks by at least a third. Thanks go to the QX70’s huge “A” and “B” pillars (at the front and rear of the front doors), big side mirrors and mirror housings, large rearview mirror, steeply raked windshield, and undulating hood line. That’s a recipe for compromised sightlines.
Compared to the new Subaru Legacy with its vaguely old-fashioned triangular windows nestled between the side mirrors and the leading edge of the front doors, the QX70’s front and side visibility is like looking at half the road. Infiniti levels the playing field a bit by offering the exceptionally useful “Around View Monitor” for parking lot maneuvers.
The 2015 Infiniti QX70 starts at $45,850, or roughly the cost of the new Volvo V60 wagon which is only a bit smaller, has about the same power, and is a fantastic car in its own right—but one that takes a much milder approach to life. The QX’s base price gets you a rear-wheel drive model. Adding all-wheel drive moves the needle to $47,300, while selecting the conjoined Sport and Premium packages adds $7,850 more.Photos © Copyright 2015 Infiniti