2016 Infiniti QX60 3.5L V6 AWD Road Test
The mid-sized 2016 Infiniti QX60 all wheel drive sport utility vehicle showed up in my driveway dressed in a fairly sedate Hagane Blue with a graphite leather interior. Another indistinguishable mid-sized SUV in a crowded marketplace? Boring, right? Wrong!! Very wrong. Infiniti has one of the best intelligent cruise control and collision avoidance technologies in the marketplace (very similar to Subaru whose technologies are best in class – http://www.roadfly.com/automakers/subaru/car-decisions-for-my-daughter-college-tours-of-unc-and-duke-and-the-2016-subaru-crosstrek/). These technologies are changing and getting better every year. I needed a good road trip to really get a feel for them. Sometimes you just have to get in and drive and end up where you end up. Luckily for me this time, my daughter needed a ride home from two week sleep away camp located in North East, Maryland — about a five to six hour drive round trip depending on traffic. My wife didn’t want to endure the traffic so my boxer Rosie rode shotgun in the Infiniti.
With the new cruise control technologies you have to change your thinking. The old mindset was that if there is a lot of traffic you can’t use it. You have to keep hitting the brakes thus disabling the system to avoid hitting the guy in front of you. With the new adaptive cruise, as some manufacturers call it, or Intelligent Cruise Control as Infiniti calls it, it controls your speed and your braking so it works really well in heavy traffic. In fact, it makes driving in heavy traffic actually tolerable because you can sit back and let the car control your speed for you – all you have to do is steer.
There was heavy traffic on the 495 and the 95 as soon as Rosie and I hit the road. My daily driver (a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Black Bear Edition – see our Black Bear Jeep Build at http://www.roadfly.com/automakers/jeep/2016-jeep-wrangler-jk-unlimited-black-bear-build/) doesn’t have adaptive cruise so I’m not used to using it in heavy traffic. So I didn’t turn it on at first – that old mindset. Instead I decided to test out Infiniti’s collision avoidance technology which they call Distance Control Assist – an industry first. DCA helps the driver release the throttle and subtly applies the brakes as needed in slowing traffic. I founded that the system worked really well. Whenever I got too close to the car in front of me I could feel the gas pedal easing first and if I continued to keep pressure on it maintaining speed the brakes would apply slowing me further. I found that the Infiniti was very good at keeping me from rear-ending the car in front of me — even when I tried. I never tried to outright ram the guy in front of me (worried that the system might fail and I’d wreck the car), but I got pretty close a few times and the Infiniti QX60 wouldn’t let me crash.
The system doesn’t work at slow rates of speed, or at least it didn’t work for me. I believe the thinking is that you don’t need the assistance when you aren’t going very fast. If you are an aggressive driver, you can’t really use the system. In heavy traffic you are constantly fighting the system. It requires you to either turn it off (which you can easily do with a push of a button located on the steering wheel) or drive more reasonably. I tend to drive a bit aggressively, rapidly changing lanes, riding people’s bumpers, etc., and I found that after fighting the system for awhile it caused me to relax a bit and not drive like such an a-hole. Hopefully it will have that same impact on other aggressive drivers and slow them down a bit (my guess is they will just turn it off).
Rosie and I got to camp in one piece (largely due to the DCA system) after about three hours of driving in pretty heavy traffic. We picked up my daughter and were all set to make the return trip home. For the return trip I wanted to test out the Intelligent Cruise Control System. There was heavy traffic for the ride home as well, but then I remembered how great Intelligent Cruise Control works in traffic.
Intelligent Cruise Control works by setting your speed just like regular cruise, but you can also set you distance from the car in front of you. Most systems have three distances and if you are in heavy traffic you typically set it at the closest distance, which I did for our return trip. The system will apply the brakes and the throttle as is needed to keep you at your set speed and to keep you from hitting the car in front of you. Your feet never need to touch the pedals, unless and until the system shuts off. For some systems when you slow down to a certain speed the system warns you and shuts off. That type of system isn’t great for really heavy traffic. Infiniti’s system doesn’t shut off unless you come to a complete stop. I drove for 89 miles on the way home without touching the pedals even once until I hit the 495 and came to a complete standstill and the system shutoff and I had to put my foot on the brake. Once I started moving again I pressed resume and off I went without having to touch the pedals again.
The one thing I don’t like about the new system is if you get behind someone who is driving really slow and you move into the left lane to pass there is some hesitation by the system before you accelerate. When you do this manually you tend to accelerate much faster and not have to worry about that car going 75 mph in the left lane bearing down on you. When using the system you need to either wait until there is a very wide gap in traffic or not worry about pulling out in front of someone who may need to slow down until you are up to speed. I found that you could gauge it well enough that you didn’t have to anger too many people. All in all it is an incredible system and the best that I have tested. I drove for about 6 hours in heavy traffic to and from camp in the QX60. By using the Intelligent Cruise Control system I found that I was a lot less stressed out and irritated then I usually would am given that much driving in heavy traffic.
Now for the bad news. And this is true for most car manufactures, not just Infiniti. These technologies are typically only available on the most expensive trim package available, and often packaged with other things you may not want. Infiniti does a pretty good job of putting it in its own technology package with other similar options. Infiniti bundles it in its Deluxe Technology Package – which adds a whopping $6,900 to the sticker price. These technologies aren’t cheap, but they do make it much safer and easier to drive.
The QX60 AWD that I tested has a base price of $44,400. That seems pretty reasonable to me for a third row, all-wheel drive sport utility vehicle. But that’s the base model. No options. So let’s see where we end up once you add some options. Add the Deluxe Technology Package for $6,900. We also had on our QX60 the Theater Package (dual 7 inch screens in the rear for the kids) for $1,850, the Premium Plus Package (Nav, in dash cd/dvd, voice recognition, blue tooth, around view monitor, etc.) for $2,900, Premium Package (Bose 13 speaker, memory driver’s seat, heated steering wheel, remote start, etc.) for $1,800 ending up with a fairly staggering $58,845 total MSRP. That’s more then a 30% increase in the base price after options. The Infiniti QX60 is an impressive SUV with a pretty amazing intelligent cruise control system and collision avoidance technology, but you have to be willing to pay for it.