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If there’s such a thing as practical indulgence, Infiniti QX60 might be it

It’s easy to forget that many buyers with the means and desire will forgo upscale sedans and head for something a bit more substantial. That’s especially true for people with families to tote around and recreational toys to haul.

The Infiniti QX60 that’s available in front- or all-wheel drive represents the kind of vehicle that can handle a multitude of tasks: from ferrying the kids to school and afterschool events, to heading out on extended excursions.

The QX60 owes much of its existence to the related Nissan Pathfinder. Both tall wagons come with three rows of seats and are nearly identical in size and volume. They’re also built off identical platforms, which makes them equal in distance between the front and rear wheels.

Of course, both models take separate routes when it comes to design and content. For 2016, the QX60 received a bolder mesh-style grille that replaces the previous face with horizontal bars. In addition, there are new headlights and fog lights that neatly blend in with the vehicle’s already striking sheetmetal. Other carryover design cues, notably the “crescent-cut” rear roof pillar, really make the QX60 stand apart in the segment.

Interior styling is equally impressive and is focused on comfort and utility. The standard leather-covered seats provide good support across all three rows and there’s plenty of to places to stow valuables, including a generously sized bin inside the floor console.

Second-row riders enjoy the advantage of up to 5½ inches of fore and aft travel. This also benefits those seated in the third row, as they will have relatively easy access to the back seat.

For the driver and front passenger, the gauges, control panel and touch-screen blend seamlessly with the dashboard and are easy to comprehend.

Park Place Infiniti General Manager Joe Tortomasi said the 2016 Infiniti QX60 makes up approximately 25 percent of the Las Vegas dealership’s sales.

“People love it,” he said. “It’s a seven-passenger vehicle that offers good styling and has a luxurious, comfortable interior.”

Tortomasi added that buyers of all ages look to the QX60, which comes standard with electric start and three-row seating, for their vehicle needs.

“Young, upward mobile people looking to start a family or those with more than two children are buyers,” he said. “As are a lot of grandparents who are looking to hold all of their grandkids.”

For 2016, Infiniti designers have taken extra steps to reduce road noise with the addition of front and side acoustic glass. The effect is noticeable, especially at highway speeds where wind washes and tire whine are almost nonexistent.

There are also improvements to the QX60’s road manners to report, including a retuning of the front and rear suspension for better cornering control and ride comfort. Additionally, faster-acting power steering requires less wheel rotation when turning.

What continues to act briskly is the QX60’s 3.5-liter V-6 that’s also found in the Pathfinder plus numerous other Infiniti and Nissan models. For this application, the engine puts out 265 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque.

The 3.5 is linked to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which performs reasonably well with built-in “steps” that emulate traditional automatics. However, just about all of the QX60’s upscale competitors avoid the use of CVTs, presumably to ensure that their owners’ driving experiences are in no way compromised.

On the plus side, the CVT’s superior operating efficiency helps the QX60 achieve mpg ratings of 21 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway, placing it at or near the top in its class.

For better fuel efficiency, the QX60 is available as a hybrid (front- or all-wheel drive). It uses a supercharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine working in combination with a 15-kilowatt electric motor to produce 250 combined horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. The hybrid gets 26 mpg in the city and 28 highway, but it sells for nearly $9,500 more than a base $43,600 QX60.

The level of standard equipment is of course quite inclusive, but a number of option packages can boost content with a 13- or 15-speaker Bose sound system, voice-activated navigation, second-row dual 7-inch monitors, panoramic moonroof, 20-inch wheels (18-inchers are standard) and the very latest in crash-avoidance safety technology.

The QX60’s updated style and features make a compelling case for consideration as your future family wagon. Dial in an attractive price point and it’s the sort of practical indulgence that can win out over traditional up-level sedans every time.

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