Let’s get one thing straight right from the start: The Infiniti QX60 and Nissan Pathfinder are, save for small differences, the same vehicle under the skin.
Sure, the Infiniti’s 3.5-litre V-6 is tuned for five extra ponies (245) and eight extra pound-feet of torque (248), but that’s hardly a deal-breaker for the Pathfinder.
They both hook up to the same continuously variable transmission and, with the right package, a similar all-wheel-drive system.
While there are some technical differences, functionally for the average user, the difference between the two systems is that Nissan lets you choose between 2WD, 4WD or Auto, while Infiniti essentially locks it into Auto and throws away the switch.
So, the question has to be asked: What do you get for the extra cash to get the Infiniti?
All of the following is eye-of-the-beholder stuff. If it’s important to you, it will justify the spread. If it’s not important to you, it likely won’t matter.
The crossover formerly known as JX35 starts at $42,450 whilst the crossover still known as Pathfinder starts at $29,998. To be fair, the base model Pathfinder is quite a bit more basic than a base-model QX60.
For the fairest comparison, the closest approximation to the base-model QX60 is the Pathfinder SL at $35,698. (You could add all-wheel-drive to the Pathfinder ($2,000) and still not approach the 2WD QX60 price.)
So, the relevant difference in price is $6,452. What you get starts with what you lose, since the Pathfinder SL comes with heated front and second-row seats standard (heated second-row seats are in an option package on the QX60), but both vehicle get a heated steering wheel.
And after a few weeks at -32C, I could use one! Also handy and included in the SL but optional on the QX60 is remote engine start.
The Infiniti is arguably a much sexier design, with the spindle grille common to the Infiniti family, an added kink in the rearmost side windows and a to-die-for interior that is among the most luxurious in the business. The Pathfinder is a bit more plain, inside and out.
Not surprisingly, the differences in fuel economy are minor, possibly within allowances for error of each other: The Pathfinder is rated at 10.9 l/100km city and 7.8 highway (4WD) while the all-wheel-drive Infiniti is rated exactly the same. It’s only in 2WD models there is a difference and even then, it’s only a tenth of a litre per 100 km.
Items you can get, if you pay for them, on the Infiniti but can’t get on Pathfinder include lane departure warning, intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning, back-up collision prevention with brake intervention and intelligent cruise control.
Adding the full suite of options to the QX60 boosts the price by nearly half a Pathfinder ($14,000).
Matching feature-for-feature as closely as possible requires pitting the Pathfinder SL 4WD against the Infiniti AWD with the premium package ($5,000), which puts the price difference at approximately $10,000.
Elevating your purchase to the Infiniti also elevates your warranty coverage. On the Nissan, the standard comprehensive warranty is three years, 60,000 km while powertrain is warranted for five years, 100,000 km. Infiniti’s warranty is four years, 100,000 km for basic and six years, 110,000 km for powertrain.
The Infiniti, whether it’s real or perceived, also feels different. Maybe it’s suspension tuning, maybe it’s the little bit extra torque or maybe it’s psychological based on the elevated level of luxury, but the entire experience feels elevated from the Pathfinder.
Which would I choose? I’d opt for the Pathfinder and get more toys and save a few thousand. But from a purely emotional point of view, I’d go for the Infiniti. It is a very attractive, luxurious vehicle.
Which one should you choose? Only you can answer that.