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The best-selling three-row SUV has been completely redesigned and is more competitive than ever.

COURTESY PHOTO: INFINITI - The 2022 Infiniti QX60 has been completely redesigned with a more sophisticated exterior and refined interior.When a company takes a year off to redesign a vehicle, potential buyers a right to expect big improvements. And that was especially true when Infiniti skipped production of its most popular vehicle last year, the QX60. But the stakes couldn't have been higher. Midsize three-row SUVs are the among the biggest sellers now, and the competition is fierce, with new and improved models being introduced every year.

Fortunately for Nissan's luxury brand, the 2022 version of the QX60 got everything right. The exterior styling is more refined, the interior is more luxurious, the ride is incredibly smooth over rough pavement, and the steering is responsive and predictable. Although Infiniti kept Nissan's proven 3.5-liter V6 as the standard engine, it replaced the continuously variable transmission with smooth nine-speed automatic transmission for better performance.

COURTESY PHOTO: INFINITI - All trim levels of the 2022 Infiniti QX60 are available with front- or all-wheel-drive.

Even the lower trim levels are so well-equipped, in fact, that I had a hard time telling the difference between the mid-level Luxe, the subject of this review, and the top-of-the-line Autograph version, which I first tested last year. After two days of driving I had to go to the Infiniti website to figure out what it was missing. The most significant upgrades are second-row Captains Chairs and a tow package with a 6,000 pound capacity, which might improve resale value. But the lesser-priced Luxe felt just as luxurious and sophisticated as the more expensive Autograph.

COURTESY PHOTO: INFINITI - The interior of the 2022 Infiniti is tasteful and refined, and can be equipped wtih every luxury.

Keeping the existing engine may seem like an odd decision. Some competitors are offering turbocharged and even electrified choices. With rising gas prices, many buyers undoubtedly considering their options. But I'd like to offer a defense of normally aspirated V6 engines in midsize vehicles, including the Nissan 3.5. They provide more power than the V8s that used to be optional, and equal or better economy than the base fours.

Modern transmissions also allow drivers to customize their performances, with drive modes ranging from Eco to Sport. The 300-horsepower Nissan Maxima SR lives up to its reputation as one of the most affordable sports sedan available. And although the QX60 is heavier, it has only five less horsepower. The new automatic transmission takes full advantage of its 295 horsepower, especially in the Sport mode.

COURTESY PHOTO: INFINITI - The front seats in the 2022 Infiniti QX60 are fully supportive for long trips.

One thing that sets the QX60 apart is that each of its four trim levels are available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Of course, AWD is popular in the Pacific Northwest, especially for those enjoy winter outdoor activities. But with modern traction controls, those who don't plan to slopes and you want to save some money, front-wheel drive and a set of winter tires should more than suffice.

Both Nissan and Infiniti are overlooked brands. Their Japanese competitors — Honda/Acura and Toyota/Lexus — tend to get more attention. That's unfortunate because all their vehicles are very competitive in every category. The completely redesigned 2022 Infiniti QX60 is Exhibit One for why consumers should be paying attention.

COURTESY PHOTO: INFINITI - The second row of seats in the 2022 Infiniti QX60 is availanble as a three-passenger bend or two-passenger Captains Chairs.

2022 Infiniti QX60 Luxe AWD

Base price: $54,900

Price as tested: $56,825

Type: Midsize SUV

Engine: 3.5-liter V6 (295 hp, 270 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 9-speed automatic

EPA estimated mileage: 20/25

Overall length: 198.2 inches

Curb weight: 4,595 pounds

Final assembly: Smyrna, Tennessee

COURTESY PHOTO: INFINITI - The standard engine in the 2022 Infiniti QX60 is the reliablle Nissan 3.5-liter V6 with 295 horsepower and 270 foot pounds of torque.

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