2016 Infiniti QX70 AWD:
Fun on all fours.
Price: $59,630 as tested ($47,300 base trim level). A technology package added $2,950 to the price, which covered all of the lane-departure and collision-prevention bases. More options are discussed further down.
Marketer's pitch: "Intensify the feeling of performance."
Conventional wisdom: Edmunds.com liked the "sporty performance; luxurious interior; abundant standard features; easy-to-use electronics interface; distinctive style" but not the "modest rear passenger and cargo space; restrictive options packages; firm ride."
Reality: Not bad, if space isn't a problem.
A long, strange trip: Getaways for Mr. Driver's Seat and the Lovely Mrs. Passenger can be few and far between. Most of the miles I put on cars stay in the everyday realm, between work, classes, and errands.
But on a lark, we decided to take a late-night starry sky tour of old haunts in Clearfield County, where Mr. Driver's Seat began a career as a destitute reporter more than two decades ago. (The last time I drove these roads, it was in a putt-putt Plymouth Reliant.)
The woods there provided plenty of opportunity for testing the new Infiniti QX70 on some high-speed winding roads, hills, and dark desolate stretches past frightened deer, coyotes, and even some critters we have yet to identify.
Up to speed: The 3.7-liter V-6 creates 325 horsepower and, like all good engines in premium crossovers, gets you into traffic - or away from Saturday-night, drunken-sounding backwoods revelers - in plenty of time. (Cue the banjo music.)
Shifty: It seems if you want Infiniti parent Nissan to give you a conventional automatic transmission, you have to pay the Infiniti premium. But for that price, the seven-speed automatic with manual shift control provides precise shifting that never needs to hunt for gears in all the many miles I traveled. I left the QX70 in automatic mode most of the time and was never disappointed by abrupt shifting.
On the turns: Drivers entering the southern edge of Marcellus Shale country are rewarded with plenty of chances to turn the wheel and feel the lean. The QX70's long hood and short passenger compartment give it a sporty feel compared with many of its competitors. The steering is fairly tight, though, and even sneezes could set Mr. Driver's Seat slightly off course unexpectedly.
Driver's Seat: The Infiniti offered comfy accommodations over more than 800 miles of driving during my week of testing. The standard 10-way power adjustable seats added climate control and wings that expand and contract on both the seat bottom and the back as part of the $3,550 Sport Package.
A thigh bolster along the front, though, sat a little too high for my needs, and was additionally hampered by a seat that didn't raise or lower vertically but more along a tilt axis. Still, the calf cramps I kept expecting never came.
Friends and stuff: Lanky Sturgis Kid 4.0 found his time in the rear seat less than ideal. Legroom is surprisingly spare in this highest-numbered of Infiniti crossovers, although it is better than the other Infinitis we've tried. The seat itself could stand to adjust a little more.
Night shift: The high-intensity discharge xenon lights provide plenty of night vision, and they are made to adapt and auto-level as part of the $3,550 Sport Package, which also blacked out the chrome, and added some other touches. The map lights, though, were big hunks of square plastic that were not up to premium-model standards - almost a little too bright for comfort in some situations.
Play some tunes: The $4,300 premium package added an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, CD player, and more. The sound gets an A-, not quite the perfection I've heard in BMWs, Acuras, and even some Mazdas.
This package pitted Mr. Driver's Seat against Sturgis Kid 4.0 at the end of each trip, though, as entry/exit assist meant my seat further intruded against the kid's shoes, which were size 12 at press time.
Fuel economy: The QX70 averaged about 19.5 m.p.g., and consumes only the best grade of gasoline.
In the end: Certainly the QX70 was a far cry from the 1985 Plymouth Reliant we once drove over these same roads. Whether it's the car for you depends mainly on how important rear-seat comfort is.