After vigorously pursuing a strategy of being the "Japanese BMW" by creating a family of taut, sporty, rear-drive models, Infiniti suddenly changed course with the introduction of the Infiniti JX35 for the 2013 model year. While outwardly showing all the usual Infiniti styling cues, it sat on a thoroughly mainstream transverse, front/AWD platform with a CVT. Clearly a volume play for the brand, and a shot at the segment-leading Lexus RX, the JX added a third row, something the Lexus did not have. But the Lexus did offer a hybrid option, which the JX did not when it was introduced.

Finally, in the form of 2014 QX60 Hybrid, Infiniti has the hybrid niche covered. The QX60 is the first of Infiniti's SUV models to undergo the corporate-wide name change, effective with the start of the 2014 model year. Name change aside, the QX60 is for all intents and purposes the same as the JX35. The standard model powered by the Nissan's tried and true VQ35DE 3.5-liter V-6 engine remains in the lineup.

But unlike Lexus, which uses its 3.5-liter V-6 on its RX hybrid model, the QX60 Hybrid uses a new 2.5-liter supercharged four-cylinder to provide its combustive motivation. The engine itself is rated at 230 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque, with the electric motor adding an additional 20 hp for a net system output of 250. Only 15 hp and 5 lb-ft off the output of the standard QX60, the hybrid promises to deliver dynamic performance about on par with its conventional counterpart. But the real improvement is in fuel economy, where it's projected to deliver a combined 26 mpg, a significant 5-mpg improvement over the standard QX.

Like the Nissan Pathfinder with which it shares a platform, the QX60 Hybrid will be offered with front or all-wheel drive. Outward styling differentiation will be minimal on the QX60 hybrid, with front quarter-panel "hybrid" badges being the only major giveaway, other than silent parking-lot marauding. Like all QX60s, the hybrid offers standard bi-xenon HID headlights, and full LED taillights.

Standard rolling stock is 235/65R18 tires on five-spoke 18-inch alloys, with split five-spoke 20-inch wheels an option on the topline HEV Deluxe Touring Package. The other trim levels available are the Driver Assistance Package, the Maple Interior Trim Package and HEV Premium Package.

The QX Hybrid's final shot across Lexus' bow is value. The Hybrid model adds a modest $3000 to the QX60's bottom line, compared to more than $6000 to get the hybrid powertrain on the RX. If you're interested in getting an up-close look at the QX60 Hybrid, visit your Infiniti dealer this fall.


2014 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid
BASE PRICE (est) $45,000-$47,000
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.5L, 230-hp/243-lb-ft, 16-valve DOHC supercharged, direct-injected I-4, 15 kW, 20 hp electric motor, 250 net system hp
TRANSMISSION Continuously-Variable Automatic
CURB WEIGHT (est) 4400-4500 lb
WHEELBASE 114.2 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 196.4 x 77.2 x 67.8 in
0-60 MPH (est) 8.0 sec
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 25/27 mpg
ON SALE IN U.S. Fall 2013