Highlights: The QX is formerly known as the JX. The QX is based-off the same platform as the Nissan Pathfinder.

 Test vehicle’s MSRP: $57,240 (Base Model starts at $43,095)

Seating Capacity: 7- passenger

Standard Safety Features: airbags (driver, front passenger, side impact and curtain) ABS; brake assist; electronic brake force distribution; traction control; and a tire pressure monitoring system.

 Standard Equipment: 18-inch wheels; a push-button keyless starter system; leather seats; heated power front seats; automatic HID bi-functional xenon headlights; a power moonroof; a tri zone automatic temperature control; power rear liftgate; power tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a keyless entry system; power folding outside mirrors; a 7-inch rear view camera; and Infiniti’s Personal Assistant.

 Suspension System:

 Front: Independent

Rear: Multi-link

Standard Audio: a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD with satellite radio

 Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 60,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles

iPod Connectivity: Standard

Bluetooth Compatibility: Standard

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder/265-horsepower

Recommended Fuel: Regular

 Standard Fuel Mileage: 19-city/25-hwy

Other Trim Level (s):

Hybrid

What’s New: Not only does the vehicle go through a name change for the 2014 model year, it also takes on a new hybrid system, a first in the seven-passenger luxury crossover segment.

 Pros: The seven-passenger luxury crossover is available in both a front-wheel drive and an all-wheel drive configuration. Buyers also have the option of driving off in a hybrid or a gasoline model, a first in this segment. And like the segment new-vehicle sales leaders, the Acura MDX and the Buick Enclave, the QX60 provides carpet-to-carpet luxury amenities along with ample room for seven occupants. In fact, this people mover allows the rear occupants easy access to the third row due to the second-row tilt-and-slide feature. More importantly, when the second and third row seats aren’t occupied the QX60, can easily be converted to carrying additional cargo.

 In addition to the QX60 being a multipurpose luxury crossover, our test vehicle was equipped with approximately $11,000 in options. One of the features included a Technology package, which pushed us closer to being behind the wheel of an autonomous vehicle. This is made possible through such highly advanced features as a lane departure warning system, a forward collision alert system, a full range radar-activated cruise control system and an intelligent braking system.

 Added to that, our test vehicle was accessorized with the brand’s Deluxe Touring package, which consisted of 20-inch alloy wheels, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, power folding third-row seats, and an oversized fixed sky roof for the rear occupants. Furthermore, the sound system was enhanced by adding 7 additional speakers, bring the total to 13. The audio system is one of the best on the market place, Bose.

 Furthermore, the driver also gain memory programmed seats, a two-setting lumbar adjustment, a heated steering wheel, a remote engine starter system, a larger 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a reverse tilt-down feature for the exterior mirrors and real-time traffic (and weather) data. Yes, in a sense, the QX60 is almost like having a pint sized easy-to-manage RV.

Cons: In order to step into the hybrid, buyers will be required to shell out an additional $3,000. Unfortunately, according to fueleconomy.gov, drivers will only gain 6 additional miles in city driving. The mileage difference isn’t enough to justify the additional expense.

 Moreover, with this being a luxury vehicle, the QX60 second row occupants should have the option to have captain chairs. Currently, the vehicle is only equipped with split bench seats. The downside to adding captain chairs is that this would reduce the seating capacity.

 Furthermore, while Infiniti is known as the performance-oriented brand, this is not one of the strong suits of the QX60. In fact, Infiniti’s seven passenger crossover non performance-oriented suspension system drives and rides more like a Buick Enclave.

 The Verdict: With one full model year under its belt, the QX60 has cemented its place as Infiniti’s answer to the luxuriously appointed Buick Enclave and Acura MDX. Like both vehicles, the well-appointed QX60 rides and drives like a car, as opposed to a truck. In fact, since the Acura MDX most recent make over, the Asian make has a slight sales lead over the segment leader, the Enclave. With the QX60 being a great alternative to those who needs a vehicle that’s offers more room than the tight-fitting performance-oriented QX70, but doesn’t require the towing power of the QX56, it fills what was once considered a void. So far, Infiniti has added and retained buyers to the fold by adding the QX60. The brand no longer has to worry about losing its customer base to its luxury competitors. The same can’t be said for BMW, Cadillac, Lexus and Volvo, which are the only remaining luxury players not offering a seven passenger car-based utility vehicle in the segment. And for Infiniti, that’s great news and an opportunity to win over new buyers to the brand.

 Competition: Acura MDX AWD, Audi Q7AWD, Buick Enclave AWD and Lincoln MKT AWD

Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him at twitter/JeffCars.

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