The 2014 QX70's engine room offers no surprises. The midsize crossover is powered by Nissan/Infiniti's 3.7-liter VQ-series V-6 engine; the same mill that makes an appearance in nearly every vehicle in the automaker's lineup smaller than the QX80.
The power plant makes 325 horsepower in this incarnation, sending its 267 pound-feet of torque through a seven-speed automatic transmission on the way to the automaker's Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system. This rear-biased AWD system defaults to 100 percent rear-wheel drive, but can direct up to 50 percent of available torque on demand to the front wheels when slip is detected on one of the rear wheels. Of course, the QX70 is also available standard with plain-vanilla rear-wheel drive, as well.
That the QX70's all-wheel-drive system doesn't feature any special off-road programming or settings and that its torque split is so rear-biased are both indicators that Infiniti wants you to keep this one on the tarmac. There is, however, a switch to activate a "Snow" driving mode on the center console, but this is a throttle control system for carefully creeping through slippery conditions without wheelspin, not a specific traction program.
The single-option seven-speed automatic transmission does have a few extra modes. There's the standard drive program, a sport program, and manual gear selection. The VQ's 325 horsepower sounds more exciting on paper than it feels on the road, but that's mostly the fault of the transmission's reluctance to let the engine stretch its legs. Even when in the Sport mode, the QX70 skips through the gears too quickly to be considered sporty. As a result, you'll spend a lot of time in taller gears with the engine's revs hanging just below the upper reaches of the tachometer's swing where most of the power lives.
Matting the accelerator or manually dropping down a few gears by flicking the shift lever will force the QX70 to get those pistons flying and decent acceleration is possible, but without paddle shifters, don't expect this to be as thrilling a ride as in the FX50S that I've previously tested.
If there's a pro to the gearbox's tendency toward sluggish acceleration, it's the potential for decent fuel economy. The EPA tells us that the QX70 is good for about 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Our optional all-wheel-drive system knocks those numbers down to 16 city and 22 highway mpg or 18 mpg combined. In the real world -- with a casual driving cycle that included highway cruise controlling, a reasonable amount of traffic, and just a bit of back-roads testing -- I managed 16.6 mpg.
The top-tier QX70 5.0 model not only features a larger engine, but it is also available with a Sport package that adds electronically controlled adaptive-suspension technology and Rear Active Steer. However, our QX70 3.7 AWD model did not offer those options. What we got was a double-wishbone suspension up front and independent multilink suspension in the rear with a fixed and nonadjustable comfort tune that still managed to control body movement, roll, and dive remarkably well when hustling the 4,321-pounder around a bend. The optional 20-inch wheels and 265/50R20 all-season tires rolled smoothly and quietly.
Infiniti has pretty consistently impressed us with its available safety technology and, while not fully loaded, this 2014 QX70 is no exception.
Our model featured the automaker's $2,950 Technology package, which kicks off with the radar-guided adaptive cruise control system. Like most adaptive cruise systems, this one is able to slow the vehicle below a preset speed to maintain a safe driving distance. However, this setup is noteworthy for being full-range functional, which means that it can slow the QX70 to a stop in heavy traffic and resume creeping forward in stop-and-go traffic.
The forward-facing radar sensor in the front bumper is also used to command the forward collision prevention system, which is able to alert the driver if the closing speed with a leading vehicle indicates that a collision may be imminent, and Intelligent Brake Assist, which can actually activate the brakes in an attempt to prevent such a collision, bringing the vehicle to a complete stop if possible. This system is, in turn, tied in to the Intelligent Pedal, which uses force feedback to push against an inattentive driver's foot with the gas pedal when the forward-collision system begins to brake.
Our example was also equipped with the automaker's camera-based lane departure warning system and lane-keeping assistant. When this system is activated, the QX70 will beep at the driver if the vehicle begins to drift out of its lane without activating the turn signal. Ignore the beep and the system will bias-brake the front wheel on the opposite side of the drift to pull the vehicle's nose back in line. This brake-based system is reactive and won't intervene until you're already crossing the line, rather than proactive and power-steering based like the recently tested Acura MDX Advance's system, which intervenes even before you leave the lane to keep the vehicle centered. The Acura's system is more sophisticated and arguably "better" for more distracted drivers, such as parents with small children onboard, but more attentive drivers will feel less intrusion and nannying from the more relaxed Infiniti system.