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Auto blogFri, 08 Mar 2013 13:29:00 EST
The next Q-ified Infiniti will be making its debut at the New York Auto Show later this month, the QX60 - the crossover formerly known as JX35. And while there aren't many changes to the crossover in terms of design or function, the big news is that Infiniti will be revealing a production hybrid powertrain option for its seven-passenger luxury/utility vehicle.
The QX60 Hybrid uses the same powetrain found in Infiniti's M35h gasoline-electric sedan, which couples a 2.5-liter supercharged four-cylinder engine with a 15-kilowatt electric motor, running to the wheels via continuously variable transmission. Both front- and all-wheel-drive versions of the QX60 Hybrid will be available, and Infiniti says that the more efficient CUV should be good for around 26 miles per gallon combined - an improvement of five mpg over the current JX35 with its 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6. And because the compact lithium-ion battery will be housed underneath the third row seat, we're told that the hybrid model will still have the same passenger and cargo capacity of the non-hybrid crossover.
This will be the first three-row hybrid CUV offered in the US market, and wrapping it up in a luxury package makes a lot of sense to us, since it could be a good way of cajoling customers into absorbing the extra cost of the more expensive powertrain. (Keyword in that sentence: CUV. After all, the Cadillac Escalade is still currently available as a two-mode hybrid for the 2013 model year.) Infiniti has not released official pricing figures, but says that the hybrid model will represent a roughly $3,000 premium over the standard QX60.
JD Power has released its annual Sales Satisfaction Index Study, and once again Mini and Lexus have taken top honors. Overall, buyers are more satisfied with the auto-buying sales experience than they were last year, with those surveyed reporting an average score of 664 points on a 1,000-point scale. That's up from 648 in 2011. Dealer satisfaction also increased by five points over last year as well.
All told, Lexus brought home an index score of 737, which was high enough to put it atop the luxury brands for the second year in a row. JD Power says Infiniti came in second in that category with a score of 728 and Cadillac rounded out the podium with it's rating of 725. Speaking of Infiniti, that brand saw the single largest jump in sales satisfaction of any brand on the survey, popping up 52 index points over 2011.
Among mass-market brands, Mini ranked highest with a score of 712, followed closely by Buick with 706 and GMC farther down the line with 683. You can check out the full press release below for more information.
Automotive parts maker Takata is having a rough year with millions of vehicles equipped with its airbag inflators being recalled. However, it looks like there might still be problems with the company's quality control, if a new recall by Infiniti is any indication.
The Japanese luxury brand is recalling 1,912 total units of the 2013 Infiniti QX56 and 2014 QX80 in North America because of a manufacturing flaw with their Takata-supplied inflators for the driver's side front airbag. Of those, 1,848 are in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Specifically, the outer baffle could be the wrong component and cause too much pressure to build up inside. According to documents submitted to NHTSA, it's possible in a crash for the part to rupture spraying metal shrapnel at occupants. At this time, Infiniti has not had any reports of this actually happening to drivers.
While this problem sounds nearly identical to the issue affecting millions of earlier vehicles, it must be noted that this is a different fault. According to the notice being sent to dealers on NHTSA's website: "This particular Voluntary Safety Recall Campaign is unrelated to two earlier campaigns that involved Takata passenger front air bag inflators on some older model Infiniti vehicles. This issue involves a much newer inflator and is a different, more isolated, Takata quality control issue."