MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Cruising eastward on multi-lane Poplar Avenue as it slices through midtown Memphis, the luxurious and spirited 2014 QX70 crossover utility vehicle from Infiniti looks taut and athletic like a lanky runner ready to sprint to speed on a fast track.
Stretching almost 16 feet long and decorated with a raked face flashing a chrome-ringed double-arch grille and speed-strafed projector-type headlamps on front corners plus curvaceous fender blisters bulging over massive multi-spoke alloy wheels, Infiniti's deluxe and powerful mid-size CUV functions as a rider-hauling wagon yet drives and handles more like a pavement-hugging sports car.
Reflecting Infiniti's revised model nomenclature (badges of passenger cars get an alphanumeric name beginning with the letter "Q" as wagons use the letters "QX"), the QX70 with three trim variations for 2014 becomes a new expression of Infiniti's former FX series wagons.
The QX70 rides on a stiff rear-wheel-drive (RWD) platform with RWD or all-wheel-drive (AWD) for a pair of powertrain variations that tie two models -- QX70 3.7 and QX70 5.0 -- to nomenclature describing engine displacement.
QX70 3.7 carries Nissan's 3.7-liter V6 engine with options for RWD or AWD traction. QX70 5.0 AWD goes further with a big 5.0-liter V8 engine and AWD exclusively.
The V6 engine, with dual overhead cams (DOHC) and Infiniti's electronic valve controller -- continuously variable valve timing control system (CVTCS) and variable valve event & lift (VVEL), generates 325 hp at 7000 rpm, with torque pumping up to 267 lb-ft at 5200 rpm.
The V8 engine also comes with DOHC, CVTCS and VVEL controls. Output reaches 390 hp at 6500 rpm as the torque soars to 369 lb-ft at 4400 rpm.
QX70's sole transmission is sweet: A 7-speed electronically controlled automatic featuring adaptive shift control (ASC), downshift rev matching (DRM) and manual shift mode (MSM) with optional magnesium paddle shifters mounted on the steering column.
QX70's electronically controlled AWD equipment carries an obtuse moniker of "Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split." It sounds better when crimped to the run-on acronym of ATTESA E-TS AWD. The smart equipment is able to distribute the engine's torque in amounts which vary with the pavement conditions (smooth or rough, wet or dry) and a particular driver's intensity. That torque division could be 50:50 (front/rear) to assure good tire grip on dirt or slippery snow, or a split of 0:100 (front/rear) for optimum acceleration on dry pavement from a standing start.
QX70's rigid platform is called FM, for Front Midship, which describes the engine's position on the chassis. The front wheels sit way forward and the engine is positioned so that its center of gravity falls behind the front axles. This placement results in a weight distribution biased slightly in favor of front wheels.
The suspension is totally independent with lightweight aluminum components employed up front in a double wishbone design featuring high camber stiffness and in the rear with a multi-link arrangement forged in steel and aluminum.
A vented disc brake stands at every wheel and all tie by computerized links to the anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake assist (EBA) and electronic brake force distribution (EBD). Further, all QX70 models carry Infiniti's vehicle dynamic control (VDC) device with traction control system (TCS).
QX70's 5-place cabin, featuring form-fitting seats and lots of electronic gizmos, is an artful design trimming in upscale materials with optional quilted leather upholstery, plus genuine maple wood trim and aluminum accents.
A Premium Package -- optional on QX70 3.7 but standard on QX70 5.0 -- installs the Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation System, Infiniti Voice Recognition for audio and navigation, a color 8-inch touch-screen display, in-dash 1XCD/DVD player, Bluetooth Streaming Audio, the Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection and Front and Rear Sonar System, dual-occupant memory system for driver's seat plus outside mirrors and steering wheel, a power tilt/telescopic steering column and aluminum roof rails.
The optional Technology Package adds Intelligent Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention, Distance Control Assist, Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning and Adaptive Front lighting System plus auto-leveling headlights.
Infiniti structures MSRP figures for the 2014 QX70 CUV from $44,950 to $61,500.