It used to be that if you wanted to pile seven people into the same vehicle, you'd need a van, a huge SUV or, worse, a wood-paneled station wagon. But the 2014 Infiniti QX60 is the latest in a new breed of luxurious 7-seaters that let you take your large family or your friends -- and lots of them -- wherever you want. In comfort.

Formerly Known as the JX35

The QX60 is actually a renamed JX35, which was only on the market for one year (the 2013 model year). This is the same crossover, powered by the same smooth, 265-horsepower V6, with the same spacious interior and the same pleasant styling. For the record, the new-for-2013 Nissan Pathfinder is also built using the same mechanical stuff and feels very similar behind the wheel.

The Perfect Triple-Date Ride

Crossovers with spacious front- and second-row seats are common, but the QX's roomy third-row seat, which holds two adults comfortably, is one of its best qualities. So go ahead and invite a third couple out on that double date with your besties. No one will complain, especially if you've opted for the large, panoramic sunroof that goes over the first and second rows. As with all new Infiniti products, the seats are comfortable and supportive, and materials are excellent.

Pleasant to Drive, Though Not Terribly Sporty

With its hefty weight, combined with just 265 hp and a killjoy continuously variable transmission, the QX60 is not the most fun-to-drive 7-seater out there (not that there are many 7-toppers that are fun to drive). It is certainly easy to drive, however, with light steering and brakes that engage smoothly and in a linear fashion. It could use more power, but the trade-off is respectable fuel economy (18 miles per gallon city/23 mpg hwy, according to the Environmental Protection Agency).

Parking, too, is a cinch, thanks to Infiniti's clever around-view monitor that gives a birds-eye view of the vehicle, complete with front-wheel trajectories as well as object (and person) detection. As long as you don't take corners too hard when the vehicle is fully loaded, the QX60 is delightful around town.

As a family truckster, the QX60 is particularly appealing, with its full suite of advanced safety systems, including blind spot warning, radar cruise control, distance-control assist, remote start (to warm up the car on cold days) and backup collision intervention, which Infiniti has been touting in recent commercials. Also available are lane-departure warning and a pre-crash preparation system for front-seat occupants. Other niceties include the three years of Infiniti Personal Assistant services, which is like GM's OnStar concierges (or Siri, only human) available at the touch of a button.

Plenty of Competition

The QX60 has plenty of 7-seat competition that potential buyers may also be cross-shopping. The BMW X5 and Land Rover LR3 are cool and have plenty of caché, but the rear seats are small. Ditto the Acura MDX. The Lexus GX570 and Cadillac Escalade are heartier overall and more spacious in back, but far more trucky on the road. The Lincoln MKT is more of a wagon than a crossover, leaving only the far-more-expensive Mercedes-Benz GL-Class as the QX60's most direct competitor when it comes to packaging and on-road comfort for seven.

It's unfortunate that Infiniti changed the name of its JX35 crossover before the model could really get its legs in the market, but if it can overcome the name confusion, the 2014 Infiniti QX60 could make a lot of luxury SUV buyers quite happy.

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Steve Siler is a freelance automotive journalist and presenter based in Los Angeles, California. Known for his ability to make automotive subjects accessible to both enthusiast and non-enthusiast audiences, Siler has contributed to dozens of lifestyle and enthusiast publications, including The Robb Report, Automobile Magazine, and Car and Driver Magazine.

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