Winter’s first blast of the 2016/2017 season came on the very same day that we were scheduled to drive two thirds of the way across the Greater Toronto Area to join the good folks at Nissan Canada for an early VIP screening of the new Star Wars franchise flick Rogue One. We left our driveway with a couple of hours to spare, figuring that this would leave us sufficient time to deal with the slowdowns caused by the pre-Christmas storm.
“Cool, it looks like we are making the jump to light speed in the Millenium Falcon”, I exclaimed to my oh so tolerant missus as we accelerated onto the highway, as the QX60’s gorgeous LED headlights lit up the rapidly falling snow. You see, Mrs. Grant is not a particular fan of the Star Wars films and would have been happier to be catching up on season 8 of Dexter in front of a roaring fire.
Our test vehicle had been shod with a set of Toyo Observe GSi5 Winter tires, descended from the Toyos that we used to rely on during Winter rallies more than twenty years ago, so I had high hopes that the overall package would be competent in the white stuff. What I didn’t expect was for the package to conquer Old Man Winter like a Yeti scaling Mount Everest.
Maybe ten kilometers into our drive, four lanes wide became three and traffic slowed to a reasonable 60 km/h, so I eased the Infiniti over into the right lane, which was no longer being used. The transition between hard pack snow to deep ruts and then just deep snow were barely noticeable behind the wheel, as the QX60 simply went where I asked it to, with no drama whatsoever. Inside the cabin, the heated seats and steering wheel kept the humans toasty.
Soon, traffic came to a standstill and four lanes became five, as patience waned and motorists tried everything to somehow escape the traffic. With 45 minutes remaining until curtain time, we had covered about a third of the distance to the theatre and there was no way we were going to make it to showtime. A decision was made and we exited the highway in search of dinner.
Avoiding traffic clogged main streets for a while, we chose twisty side roads, which had been untouched by snow removal machinery. As any self respecting Canadian boy should, I switched off the stability control and began to explore the limits of traction. Simply for research sake of course, so that I knew what my vehicle would do if presented with an emergency situation!
Normally, I am not a big fan of CVT transmissions, but the unit in the QX60 flawlessly transmits the 3.5l V-6’s 295 horsepower to the all wheel drive system flawlessly and adds to the cocoon effect we were feeling in the Infiniti’s cabin. While looking sleek and sporty, the seven passenger QX60 is still quite a large vehicle, but the powertrain offers just the right level of oomph for a bit of Winter play. When asked, the all wheel drive system sends just enough power to the rear wheels to allow for long, gentle and easily controlled drifts.
We found a pub North of the city and sat down to enjoy a meal before heading home. By the time we had finished dinner and headed out onto some rural highways, there were next to no vehicles on the road. As our speeds rose to the dry norm, the QX60 was simply unfazed by the road conditions. The Toyos offer an unbelievable level of grip, the limits of which are gentle and easily taken in stride by the Infiniti’s stability control system. We ventured onto a new section of toll highway with long, sweeping ramps and found that even at elevated speeds, the QX60 was equally as stable as it was at lower speeds.
One of the challenges that Nissan has faced in the past decade or so on the passenger car side of the market is overlap between models which leaves consumers somewhat confused. Maxima was a mainstay in the Nissan fleet for years, until the G35 was introduced. Suddenly, the company had two very cool, competitively priced sporty sedans. As the G has evolved into the Q, Maxima remains somewhat in limbo, which is a shame, as it is a great car. What does this have to do with the QX60? The reality is that the QX is a gussied up Pathfinder. While the Pathy model line begins at just over 32 grand here in Canada, the QX60 starts at close to 48K. Our review unit rang in at more than $63,000, not including the Winter rubber.
Quite frankly, the QX60 feels worth every penny. The interior fit and finish, comfort and performance easily equal or better anything from more expensive luxury brands, like say Land Rover. I can’t help but wondering however, if it is worth so much more than its Nissan sibling. We’ll be driving a Pathfinder in a couple of weeks to answer that question.
With the proliferation of all wheel drive systems and advanced active driver aids, good Winter driving performance is not uncommon in today’s family utility vehicles. The way in which the QX60 conquers Winter is different than most though, as it is completely unfazed by changing conditions. In a market full of talented players, the QX60 is simply the most confident family hauler I have ever driven in adverse conditions. In a time when driving safely is more important than ever before, that confidence alone is worth the price of admission.