2016 Infiniti Q70 Review

The Betty White of Cars

Time assails all things, whether it’s memories of summer camp, your elderly neighbor or even the paint slathering a favorite local business; nothing is immune to fading with age.

But some mortal creations withstand the ceaseless march of life better than others, living with poise and reserved self-confidence. In the automotive world, Infiniti’s Q70, the Japanese brand’s de facto flagship sedan, is one product with such endurance.

Five years is an eternity in this business, tantamount to an epoch in geological time. During that span, pickup trucks can get totally redesigned, infotainment technology completely upended and even entire brands can disappear from the marketplace.

But half a decade is how long the Q70 has been on the market in its current form, it dates back to the 2011 model year. However, if you count what’s underneath its shapely sheetmetal, this four-door-formerly-known-as-M is even older than that.

Aging Gracefully

OK, so this Infiniti isn’t the freshest product on the market today, in fact, it’s probably the oldest in its segment. But against the odds, it has aged as gracefully as Betty White. Like her, it’s still able to put a smile on your face after all these years.

2016 Infiniti Q70 Review

Many enthusiasts probably turn their noses up at the Q70, viewing it as some outmoded relic from a different era, and I certainly had that opinion of the car before I lived with it for a week. But after a thorough evaluation, it earned my grudging respect.

Inside and out, I came to appreciate its voluptuous styling, which is dominated by curving forms and rounded edges. Its looks run counter to current styling trends in the luxury space, where automakers keep introducing harder-edged, more aggressive-looking vehicles. The Q70 kind of looks like something from a different era, like streaming a silent movie from Netflix.

Inside, this Infiniti’s cabin is reasonably well done. It’s impressively quiet and the materials are generally of high quality. However, there are a few things to gripe about.

2017-Infiniti-Q70-Buttons

The infotainment system is decrepit and difficult to use, plus some of the digital readouts are more pixelated than the graphics in an 8-bit video game. Beyond this, the car’s center stack is bedecked with more buttons than an Airbus cockpit. Figuring out which switch does what can be distracting and take undue concentration. It’s best to practice before heading out, lest you get four menus deep trying to switch the radio band and smash into a church’s fellowship hall during choir practice. You certainly don’t want to make the evening news, at least for this.

As for the Q70’s accommodations, it offers plenty of space and comfort, front and rear. Back-seat passengers should have nothing to complain about even if they’re riding in the standard model; Infiniti also offers an extended-wheelbase variant for even more legroom in addition to a hybrid for enhanced efficiency.

2017-Infiniti-Q70-Backseat

The driver and front passenger are treated to plush buckets that are all-day comfortable, though the seating position is a little odd for reasons I can’t put my finger on. Curiously, the Q70 offers a ton of headroom; this is an exceedingly tall car, with crossover-esque sightlines and more noggin-space than a commercial van. In fact, it’s 2.5 inches taller than a comparable Mercedes-Benz E-Class, you almost step up to get in it.

Keep On Truckin’

Tucked beneath its undulating hood, the Q70 packs a mean punch. Two engines are offered in 2016, a 3.7-liter V6 and a big, burly V8, which is what was found ahead of our test car’s firewall.

Displacing a mammoth 5.6-liters, this two-by-four propulsion system provides ample horsepower and torque; the former measures 420, the latter 417 lb-ft.

2017-Infiniti-Q70-Engine

Even though other versions of this engine are used in various trucks including the Nissan Titan and Armada models, it’s unexpectedly refined, zinging to redline with deep-throated rumble and a pleasant lack of vibration.

Punch it and the Q70 sprints ahead with verve, though you never have to go wide-open to get adequate acceleration as there’s plenty of torque even at idle, credit direct fuel injection and the firm’s VVEL variable valve-lift system for this impressive flexibility. Optional all-wheel drive ensures you never spin a tire or get squirrely in adverse conditions.

Today’s world may be ruled by downsized, forced-induction engines but it’s still refreshing to drive something with so much displacement. This car’s drivetrain is refined, responsive and immensely likable.

2017-Infiniti-Q70-Tachometer

Only one transmission is offered in the Q70, a seven-ratio automatic. It’s a versatile gearbox, maximizing efficiency and performance, too bad it isn’t always eager to respond and can lurch at times. It’s a good transmission, though from a refinement standpoint, it’s a step or two behind the eight-speed units commonly used by rival automakers.

It should be no surprise that a large, all-wheel-drive sedan with a burly V8 engine is not going to be particularly economical, and this one isn’t. It’s rated at 16 miles per gallon in urban driving and 23 on the highway. Combined, the Q70 should return a decidedly old-school 18 mpg.

Float Like a Butterfly

This top-dog Infiniti’s powertrain is mostly smooth and so is its ride. The Q70 is unexpectedly soft, absorbing even bomb craters without upsetting its passengers. It feels very delicate and somewhat floaty. Enthusiasts will probably groan at the thought of piloting some wafting land barge, but I quite enjoyed this car’s refinement, its old-fashioned focus on comfort over sport. With Cadillac, Acura and even Lexus chasing the Germans, this is refreshing.

The Q70 doesn’t try to be something it’s not. Instead, it focuses on delivering a smooth, quiet ride, and succeeds in this mission. If it tried to tackle a BMW M5 it would be lambasted as a compromised failure.

2017-Infiniti-Q70-Interior

The car’s steering and braking are unremarkable, suffice it to say, it changes direction competently and stops quickly with minimal fanfare, everything you’d expect.

As for pricing, an entry-level 2016 Q70 can be yours for around $50,000. This gets you a potent V6 engine and plenty of amenities. However, our high-end test-model was delivered with a sticker totaling nearly 70 grand! At that level, this car’s downsides become very difficult to ignore.

The Verdict: 2016 Infiniti Q70 Review

2017-Infiniti-Q70-Rear

There’s no hiding that the Infiniti Q70 is an outdated automobile. Its in-vehicle technology feels generations behind the curve, its plush ride may be too soft for some and its overabundance of buttons and switches is at best a distraction, at worst a disaster. But still, I liked this car more than I ever thought I would; its quiet confidence won me over in ways I didn’t expect, though the company better update this model soon or else it’s going to lose its battle against time.

Discuss this story on our Infiniti Forum

  • DoctorFeelgoodMD

    No thanks.

  • kaffekup

    It’s nice to read a review of a car I’ve appreciated since it was redone in ’11. I actually think it was the second-best car design I’ve ever seen, after the E-type. And I loved the original interior. Not that I’ll ever buy one.