SUVS of a Lesser God: VW vs Infiniti
by The Car Family
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Two flagships, both loaded, the VW Touareg and Infiniti QX60 are not your mainstream SUVs and yet each deserves consumer respect with high marks for safety and useability. The major differences between these two stalwarts is that although they are priced similarly they are world’s apart in spirit. The Volkswagen is tough as nails, ready to handle any terrain while the Infiniti is spacious, and smooth. Both test vehicles cost in the mid $50,000 range, but were heavily optioned.
The loaded Volkswagen Wolfsburg edition is the more rugged performer, but it is not by any means without its comforts. There is a 7700 pound towing rate, fine interior styling, nice handling despite its height, adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera, a trailer hitch, an 8-inch touchscreen, and more. It does not have a third row seat as the Infiniti does and the engine is not as responsive as its Japanese counterpart. The Volkswagen impressed us with its quiet demeanor while still offering a capable off-road ability that would make it ideal for 909 readers who are tempted by moutain and desert drives as well as the dangers of torrential rainfall.
Infiniti’s QX60 was more luxurious with a smooth ride and a new 3.5 liter V6 that gave us 22 mpg and never lacked for effort, unless you selected the Eco mode which neutralized the performance in the interest of better fuel economy. The Touareg average a bit less, at 20 mpg.
Mom’s view: I would choose the Infiniti if I needed the third row of seats. The interior appointments were lush and the ride more cushioned. The Volkswagen had a more modern interior design and was easier to park, although I loved the QX60’s monitor that displayed an aerial imagery that showed you what was around you.The brakes in the Volkswagen were superb. Both vehicles did well in crash tests, although you need to order the forward collision warning on the Infiniti. The Infiniti’s third row seat is fairly easy for youngsters to access as the second row seats fold down. The Touareg is strictly a two-row, five-passenger SUV, but its rear seat is roomy, with reclining seatbacks and sliding seat travel. There is 64 cubic feet of room with the rear seats down in the VW while larger Infiniti has 76.5 cubic feet. As 909 reader know well traffic is getting worse. Thus I recommend as many safety features as you can afford of which both of these vehicles have an abundance.
Dad’s view: The Volkswagen Touareg comes with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 280 horsepower driving through an eight-speed automatic transmission to a 4Motion all-wheel drive. It was an enjoyable vehicle, but the engine does let you know when you poke it. On the road it is pleasant even over rough roads. The Infiniti V6 was a bit smoother and stronger with 295 horsepower. It has a continuously variable automatic transmission and our Q also had all-wheel drive. The QX60 V-6 is rated to tow up to 5000 pounds. The Infiniti is all about traveling in luxury and so there is much less road feel in the QX. The seats in both vehicles were excellent with a fairly low step-in height. As similar as these two SUVs are in cost there is no question that the Infiniti is designed for those who like to be coddled whereas the Touareg is a tough customer ready for whatever comes your way.
Young working man’s view: The Infiniti offers an infotainment system and some nice graphics with the always handy buttons to make navigating fairly easy. The telematics can locate the vehicle if it is missing and can even unlock it. If you have teenagers you can set the car up so that it will notify them if they are going to fast or leaving an area you don’t want them to leave. The sound system in both vehicles was satisfactory, but you should consider upgrades. The WolfsburgTouareg offers Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an 8-inch touchscreen interface, a navigation system, an eight-speaker sound system with HD and satellite radio, and a CD player. Touareg’s infotainment system functions well, however the Infiniti offers more including an available Theater Package.
Young working woman’s view: Standard features are abundant in the Volkswagen such as LED cabin lighting, VW’s Driver Assist package and Park Distance Control, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, HID headlights and rearview camera. Volkswagen also offers an eight-inch touchscreen, a Dynaudio premium audio system, a hands-free power liftgate, rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane departure warning, and a Car-Net telematics system which notifies roadside assistance if you need help. On the other hand, Infiniti has HID headlights, a post-collision safety system and a remote anti-theft alarm. Also offered are a Driver Assistance package that includes forward and reverse collision warnings, automatic braking, blind-spot alerts, and Active Trace Control. I found the Infiniti softer and more relaxing to drive. The Volkswagen more eager, but not as comforting.
Family conference. The Infiniti and Volkswagen appeal to those who march to a different drummer. They are competent and durable, but lack the cachet of the mainstream SUVs. To this end the rugged Volkswagen Touareg and Infiniti QX60 offer owners the advantage of owning a unique vehicle that can handle whatever is thrown at them while still proving comfort and safety.