2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph AWD vs. 2022 Lexus RX350 AWD F Sport: Japanese luxury SUV battle

This week: 2022 Infiniti QX60.

Price: $63,945 as tested. The only option was $695 for gray paint.

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver liked the “elegant cabin design, smart storage solutions, smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic,” but not the “stiff ride on optional 20-inch wheels, V-6 sounds unrefined at high revs, no wireless Android Auto.”

Marketer’s pitch: “Take on life in style. Take on life in luxury. Take on life in the all-new 2022 QX60.” (They really need to get a-ha back together to sing this.)

Reality: Sporty and spiffy.

The competitors: When I think of Asian luxury competition, Lexus and Infiniti are the first two brands that come to mind. So it seemed to be fate to receive the LX350 and Infiniti’s QX60 in close succession. They were priced within $1,100 of each other, and the horsepower ratings are identical.

The QX60 comes with three rows, while Lexus buyers will have to part with a bit more cash to get the three-row LX350L, but otherwise they’re close competitors.

Still, they couldn’t approach the luxury SUV game more differently.

What’s new: Infiniti boasts that the QX60 is all new from the ground up, with available “decadent” wood trim and quilted leather seats, and a new nine-speed transmission.

Up to speed: The 295-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 — power is mostly smooth, but I noticed occasional hesitation. It gets to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, according to Motor Trend, a little on the slow side.

Shifty: The gears are changed with a big, fat square-knob shifter handle. Push for Reverse or pull for Drive or Manual.

The nine-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and quietly in automatic mode, and whether drive mode is set to Personal, Sport, Eco, or Normal.

On the road: Infiniti has turned this three-row SUV into a pretty tight machine. I found that when I switched to Sport mode, I could level out the most wobbly of country roads and guide through some narrow passages without feeling that I couldn’t judge the right side.

The QX60 is not exactly fun on the curves, but it definitely gets the job done on the winding paths and in old Pennsylvania cities.

Handling in the other modes is not quite as certain, and Sport mode works so well even on highways that the others seem superfluous.

Off the road: The QX60 also did well on some Chester County dirt roads, never slipping or sliding on the gravel.

Driver’s Seat: The light-brown quilted semi-aniline leather seats looked and felt top of the line, and the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat found them attractive, as well.

The cockpit of an Infiniti remains a welcoming and handsome place to be. Ebony trims all around the HVAC and infotainment controls a la Audi, and the stitching continues on the dashboard.

Friends and stuff: Middle-row passengers get fairly nice accommodations: bucket seats with recline and the ability to move back and forth. Manual levers and such seem a little cheap, but that’s not unusual for the price point.

The third row accommodates two more people in a seat that is not too bad overall, with snug legroom, headroom, and knee room. Foot room is tough, as there’s no sliding the feet under the seat.

The one power operation is for getting the seat out of the way of third row vict-, er, occupants, but it moves with so much force that it might as well be the second-row ejector seat. Stand back, kiddies.

Cargo capacity is a tiny 14.5 behind the third row; 41.6 behind the second; and 75.4 behind the first. Towing capacity is 6,000 pounds.

Play some tunes: The Infiniti Touch features a 12.3-inch display that works as a touchscreen but features knobs, a console dial, and a touch pad on the dash panel. As much as I complain about touchscreens taking our eyes off the road, this doesn’t strike me as better, but I never did familiarize myself with the dial. The touchscreen worked fairly well.

Sound from the Bose Performance 17-speaker stereo was strong, about an A-. It could play songs with clarity but didn’t have that extra oomph that I’m looking for. A dial controls volume and buttons skip through songs and stations. Otherwise it’s right into the touch screen.

Keeping warm and cool: Dials control temperature and touch pad “buttons” on the dash panel control everything else.

Night shift: The QX60 required a lot of adjustments to get the infotainment screen just right for the night shift. The headlights shine pretty well, though.

Fuel economy: I averaged 17.1 mpg in a variety of driving conditions but only over 75 miles, so it may get better with some more highway driving.

Where it’s built: Smyrna, Tenn.

How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts the QX60 reliability to be a 2 out of 5.

Next week: Lexus RX350