by Roger Biermann
The Q70 first made an appearance in 2011 under a different name and has received only marginal upgrades over the course of the last few years. In this latest year model, the luxury midsize sedan comes up against powerhouse names such as the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6, and with its aging design and outdated technology, doesn’t fare well. Two base trims are available, with the main differences being a 3.7-liter V6 engine developing 330 horsepower or a 5.6-liter V8 engine plating up 420 hp, mated to rear-wheel drive as standard with a seven-speed automatic gearbox and available AWD. Although offering a spacious cabin and a relatively comfortable driving experience, the Q70 lacks standard features and driver aids and requires additional packages to be equipped to measure up to main competitors. Can this aging sedan really rival Germany’s best, eight years into its current lifespan?
Minimal changes have been made to the 2019 model, and it largely carries over as is. Interior upgrades include standard navigation, front and rear sonar system, a heated steering wheel and heated/ventilated front seats. An Around View monitor with moving object detection has been included on the limited list of standard driver aids, as well as a Bose ten-speaker sound system. The Hybrid model has been discontinued, leaving just two relatively thirsty engine variants.
This mid-size Japanese sedan maintains the same sweeping lines it has for the past few model years, with LED headlights and fog lamps, and 18-inch double five-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels as standard on the base model. Equipping the Sport or Premium Select packages adds dark chrome exterior trim, darkened rear bumpers, and a decklid spoiler, as well as illuminated kick plates and bigger, 20-inch wheels in two style options.
Featuring in the midsize luxury sedan category, the Q70 is available as a base model with a total length of 196.1 inches while riding on a 114.2-inch wheelbase. Sitting at 59.1 inches in height, the rear-wheel drive configuration is half an inch shorter than the all-wheel drive version, and measures 72.6 inches in width which is standard for a sedan in this segment. Curb weight ranges from 3,876 lbs on the entry-level V6 variant to 4,239 lbs on the fully-loaded V8 model with all-wheel drive equipped.
The same exterior paint range of seven colors carries over from the previous year model, with Majestic White being the premium choice that costs an additional $500. The remaining palette is composed of Liquid Platinum, Graphite Shadow, Hagane Blue, Hermosa Blue, Chestnut Bronze, and Black Obsidian. There are no exclusive sport colors schemes, and the range is limited to tones of brown, black and blue, lacking the exciting variations offered by German marques.
With the discontinuation of the hybrid model, the Q70 comes with two engine options: the base model’s 3.7-liter V6, which produces 330 hp and 270 lb-ft torque and the 5.6-liter V8 which makes 420 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque. Powertrains are configured as standard as rear-wheel drive but can be upgraded to all-wheel drive on both trims for an additional $2,000, mimicking what other rivals offer. Each is paired with a seven-speed automatic gearbox and offers quick acceleration. The V8 engine remains the best performing option, although at a hefty $13,000 more than the base model, with a 0-60 mph sprint time of 5.5 seconds and a top speed of 150 mph. Although the figures may seem decent, rivals like the BMW M550i xDrive are quicker and their turbocharged nature is superior to the naturally aspirated Q70.
On the entry level Q70, the 3.7-liter V6 engine produces 330 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. The bigger engine on the 5.6 Luxe is the preferred powertrain option, utilizing a 5.6-liter V8 which churns out 420 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque. This engine performs enthusiastically at full throttle but is slower to accelerate from a standstill than turbocharged rivals. Some pony-car-like shudder can be expected from an engine of this size, but at idle the V8 tends to particularly noisy with a lot of cabin vibration. While offering strong acceleration and eager passing ability regardless of the engine, the Q70’s transmission does tend to lag on downshifts, requiring a little more preemption and reliance on a heavy throttle. The gearbox is unremarkable in this segment, and the ZF eight-speed unit used by rivals is far quicker on its shifts and superior in day-to-day driving.
The Q70 range boasts excellent handling on the standard wheelbase, with a firm-yet-nimble experience on the road. Despite being fairly sizeable, the Q70 shrinks around the driver, feeling agile on tight, twisting roads. Good grip and excellent cornering add to the feeling of driving a real sports sedan, aided by the hearty thrum of a big burly V8 under the hood on the 5.6 Luxe derivative. The suspension is adequate and provides ample support, but some bigger bumps in the road do tend to filter through to the cabin a little coarsely, while some jiggling and bounce can be experienced with more aggressive driving. This can be smoothed out somewhat by equipping the Sport package for sport-tuned suspension and upgraded brakes.
With the further addition of the Premium package, a four-piston front and two-piston rear brake calibration is offered which provides an even better braking experience. The pedal offers up a firm feel and good feedback, with stopping power more than ample enough for the hefty sedan.
With precise steering that feels feather-light in tighter spaces and at slower speeds, yet offers a weighted and sure sensation at highway speeds, the Q70 fares better than rivals in terms of communication and how the steering gives the driver confidence to exploit the chassis.
With such big engine options and no hybrid in the range this year, fuel consumption rates are naturally high and the Q70 does not compare well to rivals. With a 20-gallon gas tank size, the base model 3.7 has a range of 420 miles per tank, whereas the 5.6 Luxe can go 380 miles before refueling. EPA gas mileage estimates are 18/25/21 mpg for the 3.7 model on city/highway/combined cycles, and 16/24/19 mpg for the 5.6 variant, both equipped as rear-wheel drive. These figures drop by one point for each trim when configured as all-wheel drive, and with the use of premium fuel will take a sizeable chunk out of your monthly budget.
Great effort has been made to use high-quality materials throughout the leather-wrapped cabin, and various up-market trim pieces provide luxurious-looking accents. Despite this, not all touch-points, dials, and knobs are the best quality and can seem more plastic than premium, which is disappointing. On the plus side, the layout of the dashboard is superb and feels more like a sports vehicle from the driver’s perspective, with a console and dash that is ergonomically centered around you as a driver. Ample space is available for the driver and passengers alike (four six-footers would fit easily) but a fifth occupant would prove to be hunched over in the rear middle position. Legroom is sufficient, and all the seats are soft but supportive, with elevated seat bottoms in the back to enhance comfort and to make getting in and out easy. The major disappointment in this range is the outdated technology on the infotainment interface, which is rather clumsy and difficult to navigate.
Although marketed as a five-seater, in reality squeezing a fifth passenger into the cabin would make for a tight fit seated in the rear: three children in the back seat or a combination of two adults and a child would be a more comfortable fit. LATCH child seat anchors are available on both rear outboard seats but are hard to reach and make use of. Climate controlled front seats are standard in even the base model, and across the range leather-appointed seating is the entry point for all trims. For the driver and front passenger, ample head and leg room is available and would cater to those above six feet in height. Whilst legroom in the rear is sufficient, headroom is average for this class, and would make it difficult for anyone over six-foot tall to sit comfortably. Interior dimensions for this vehicle are in line with most rivals and include 44.4 inches of legroom in the front and 36.2 inches in the rear.
Leather is the material of choice throughout this cabin and is available in three options: Wheat, Graphite, and Stone, with the last option being exclusive to vehicles kitted with the Premium Select package. Leather can be upgraded to softer semi-aniline leather through the equipment of the Sensory package for a more luxurious feel. Japanese Ash Wood trim is the standard interior accent, although Aluminum or White Ash Silver-powdered trim can be selected when adding the Sensory or Premium bundles.
Trunk space in the Q70 is underwhelming, offering only 14.9 cubic feet without any means to increase the volume through fold-down seats. Most rivals offer split rear benches, so it’s confusing as to why Infiniti don’t. The trunk lid offers a wide opening which is easy to load but narrows towards the back end, holding two medium-sized suitcases at a push. The trunk offers no power closing either, although the power release mechanism is a thoughtful feature.
Interior storage spaces are disappointing, to say the least, with only two available cupholders and a center console with a spacious and convenient bin beneath an armrest. There is a small ashtray in this console, but no other available spaces for keys, coins or smartphones are present. This detracts significantly from the convenience of a luxury sedan and is well below the interior storage standards set by the Audi A6.
A limited list of standard interior features is available on both models as standard, and include climate-controlled front seats, a heated leather steering wheel and a steering column that is widely adjustable. The driver's seat also power adjusts, and a memory system is equipped to keep track of preferred driver positioning. Keyless entry and entry/exit assist make for a convenient start to your trip, and an auto trunk cincher is also equipped. Around view monitor and front and rear sonar are standard features available on both trims, but more driver aids need to be added through equipping of bundles to install features such as lane departure prevention, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic alert.
An eight-inch color touchscreen is installed on which infotainment features are displayed, but disappointingly in low-resolution. Navigation is included as standard on even the base model and offers voice recognition for both audio and navigation systems, although this technology seems to be more of a hassle to get working than it is to simply click a button. SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity and USB plug-ins are catered for and play through a high-quality ten-speaker Bose sound system. No Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities exist on this range, which remains a rather glaring oversight in this day and age when almost all rivals cater to full smartphone integration. The infotainment system is not particularly user-friendly and presents itself as quite dated with rivals offering much more cutting-edge technology together with smartphone-compatible audio systems.
Although no official recalls have been made for the Q70, numerous manufacturer communications have been released regarding potential engine component problems. A four-year/60,000 mile limited warranty is offered, as well as a six-year/70,000 mile warranty on the powertrain. J.D. Power gave the Q70 a reliability rating of average (3 out of 5) in the Vehicle Dependability Studies, while segment rivals tend to offer higher scores.
In recent years, the NHTSA has only tested limited aspects of the Q70, scoring it four stars out of five for both frontal crash and rollover tests. The IIHS provided a full set of best available "Good” scores for crashworthiness. In terms of crash prevention and mitigation, superior scores were achieved, and only the Latch child seat restraint system received poor gradings due to difficulty in accessing the restraints.
Six airbags are included in the standard safety features on the Q70, including dual front, front side, and side curtain airbags. More advanced driver aids include around view monitor with moving object detection and front and rear sonar systems. To further enhance safety features, installing the ProACTIVE package adds predictive forward collision warning, emergency braking, intelligent cruise control, lane departure prevention, distance control assist and active trace control to name but a few. The standard list is somewhat limited, and thus makes the additional package quite necessary to bring this vehicle up to par with rivals.
The basic design of the Q70 has been adequate for the last few years but is now urgently in need of a redesign. Newer rivals make use of lightweight construction and newer engine technologies to improve overall driveability and reduce fuel consumption. While the Q70’s engines are characterful and the V8 delivers generous dollops of power, neither is particularly frugal, and the sluggish gearbox and additional weight of an old chassis robs the Q70 of performance.
The inability of the vehicle to configure to smartphones is a huge drawback, as is the aging and clumsy infotainment system. Despite featuring a roomy cabin, comfortable seating and enthusiastic engine options, the onboard technology and the limited number of standard features is a little disappointing. This makes adding on one of the packages (most essentially the ProACTIVE package for all the safety aids) a necessity, and as such the price increases substantially. While the Q70 provides a comfortable drive with a powerful engine, it simply does not stand out in this segment, with competitors offering much more for similar pricing structures. Although the various plus points cannot be negated, the Q70 presents as an average car in its class.
At the point of entry into the range, the Q70 has an MSRP of $50,400 for the 3.7 Luxe in rear-wheel drive configuration. As the cheapest available model, the 3.7 can be equipped with the ProACTIVE package at an additional cost of $3,300, as well as the Premium Select package, which has the same pricing per bundle. To make the most of the Sport package, a sum of $4,900 must be added onto your invoice price. On the other end of the spectrum, the 5.6 Luxe is priced at $63,450, which is significantly more expensive than the base model and still requires additional packages to maximize driver aids at the very least. This pushes up the total cost in excess of $65,000. Added to this is the option of upgrading to all-wheel drive, which will cost upwards of $2,000. Prices are exclusive of tax, registration, licensing, and a destination charge of $995.
The Q70 range is composed of two basic trims: 3.7 Luxe and 5.6 Luxe. Both can be configured as either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, with the primary difference being the engine equipped, a 3.7-liter V6 on the former and a 5.6-liter V8 equipped in the latter.
General equipment is fairly standard across both trims, with the 3.7 Luxe incorporating a wide variety of comfort and convenience features that include leather upholstery, climate controlled front seats, keyless entry, touchscreen infotainment with navigation and a ten-speaker sound system. The top-end of the range is the 5.6 Luxe, which is based on the standard features in place on the base model but is equipped with a more powerful V8 engine paired to the same seven-speed automatic transmission. There are no other differences to note between the two models, and both trims can be upgraded by means of available packages.
Three noteworthy packages are available for installation on either of the Q70 models. The ProActive package is arguably the most significant as it entails a long list of safety features and driver aids, such as backup collision intervention, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, and intelligent cruise control, which are otherwise not available. At a cost of $3,300, this package is pretty much a necessity, as both the available models are quite bare without it.
The Sport package can only be equipped with the ProACTIVE package already in place, and at a whopping $4,900, significantly impacts the total price paid. This package adds sport front fascias, 20-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension and brakes, a 16-speaker Bose sound system, and a power rear sunshade. The Premium Select package costs the same as the ProACTIVE ($3,300) and is exclusive to the base 3.7 Luxe model. It includes dark chrome exterior trim, rear decklid spoiler, and aluminum interior trim, as well as illuminated kick plates.
While the idea of the powerful V8 is generally appealing, the substantial cost of the top-end model with only a powertrain as the main difference, seems quite nonsensical. The additional $13,000 for a bigger engine seems almost ludicrous and puts the final price well over $67,000 when adding on the much-needed ProACTIVE bundle. The base model 3.7 Luxe equipped with the ProACTIVE package is a sensible buy that remains at a class average of around $55,000, with a sufficient V6 engine, comfortable ride and full-house of safety features. Unless the driver is specifically seeking out a powerhouse engine, the 3.7 Luxe is the better value-for-money option.
The BMW 5 series features near the top of the class for midsize luxury sedans, and as a German powerhouse has quite a long lead over the Q70. Besides its obvious status, the BMW has more powerful and efficient engine options that produce much better gas mileage estimates than what the Q70 is capable of. Although the BMW is admittedly higher in price, to bring the Q70 up to the level of the BMW in terms of onboard safety features, at least one package needs to be added on which evens out the price differences. In general, the BMW handles like a true sports car, with superior suspension and cornering abilities, as well as a much more refined driving experience. The cabin, although similar in size and dimension is filled with high-end materials and a more user-friendly layout than in the Q70. Thus, despite the higher price, the BMW is the better option between the two.
Another familiar name in this segment, the Audi A6 has a smaller cabin than the Q70, although not by much. The opulence and attention to detail in the finishing of the Audi, however, far exceeds the interior of the Q70. Although the Q70 has a premium sound system on-board as standard (and can be further upgraded), the general cutting-edge technology of the Audi in terms of driver aids, infotainment and smartphone integration by far outweighs what the Q70 is equipped with. The Audi also has a much more agile driving experience, with smoother gear changes and better handling than the Q70, thanks to its standard quattro all-wheel drive system. Once the base Q70 is equipped with the ProACTIVE package (necessary to adequately compare to rivals, as the standard Q70 is simply poor in driver aids without it), it is within the same price range as the Audi. With the superior safety ratings and all-around better drive, the Audi is the winner in this comparison.