2010 Infiniti QX56
Base price: $56,700 – $59,800
As tested: $60,665
MPG: 12 city/17 highway
- Luxury SUV with plenty of room
- Excellent towing capacity
- njoyable to drive with superb handling dynamics
- Dismal fuel economy
- All-new model on the way
- Need roomier third-row seating
By Jim Prueter
Big on room – Hard on gas
(This review was originally written in Dec. 2008 about the 2009 QX56. Little of substance has changed for the QX56 and the review has been updated to include the 2010 model)
Infiniti’s flagship SUV, the QX56, is one of the largest passenger vehicles on the market today. Size-wise it ranks right up there with Chevrolet Suburban, Toyota Sequoia and Lincoln Navigator.
Weighing almost three tons and measuring just over 17 feet long, size has its price, namely with fuel economy that’s rated at 12/17 miles per gallon city/highway. Our overall observed mileage inched just over 12 mpg during our week-long testing.
While the QX56 is one massive box, Infiniti designers have done a pretty good job of making it look interesting and mildly luxurious. The QX56 is based on the full-size Nissan Titan pickup and Armada SUV. The QX56 received a mid-cycle facelift for the 2008 model year with new front and rear fascias, new grille and fog lights and 20-inch chrome wheels, up from the previous 18-inch.
Build quality and materials inside and out are above average, but not exceptional. There were changes inside as well with a new keyless starting system, new dash and instrument cluster and better-looking trim. Dash instruments have also been improved, changing from orange faces on a black background to white numbers in blue circles on a black background. The third row of seats gets a power-folding feature and the optional rear entertainment system gets a larger eight-inch screen.
There have been no significant changes for 2009 or 2010 models, both of which are virtually identical to the 2008 QX56.
Infiniti has announced that a completely new and redesigned QX56 will go on sale this summer as a 2011 model, offered in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. We will have a complete review of the 2011 model as soon as Infiniti makes it available for us to test drive.
For 2010, the QX56 comes in just one fully-loaded model with a choice between two-wheel ($56,700) and all-wheel drive ($59,800). Both are powered by the same 320-horsepower 5.6-liter V-8 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with a manual shiftgate.
Standard equipment includes a roof rack, running boards, power rear liftgate with opening rear glass, auto on/off high-intensity discharge xenon headlights, heated steering wheel, XM® satellite radio, rearview backup monitor/camera, navigation system, rear backing warning, Bose® Premium Audio System, front dual zone and rear zone temperature controls, heated leather seats in front and second row captain’s chairs, 10-way adjustable power driver’s seat (8-way passenger’s seat), power moonroof and more.
But the QX56 still doesn’t feel or look as luxurious as some of its competitors, like the Lexus LX 570, Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator.
What we did like about the QX56 is how it drives and handles, and its quiet interior. It actually drives much smaller than it looks with a tight turning radius for ease of parking, and a stable feeling on curves and corners without the body roll typical on such tall vehicles. We noticed little if any body bounce up and down hilly roads. Brakes are excellent, however, the steering is on the heavy side.
Power and acceleration are more than adequate. There’s more than 61 feet of cargo room with the third row folded flat. That’s more than Navigator’s 54 and about equal to the Escalade. Space drops to 20 feet with the third row in the up position.
Front seat room was ample, even for my 6-foot-6-inch frame. Ditto for the second row, but I was too big to squeeze into the third row. It’s best left for the kids.
Towing capacity is rated at 9,000 pounds with two-wheel drive, 8,900 with all-wheel drive.
Standard safety features include all the expected airbags, stability and traction control, four-wheel anti-lock braking system, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution. The QX56 earned the highest government safety crash test rating of five stars for frontal-driver-side impacts and 4 stars on the passenger side.
Overall, for shoppers who need the room and towing capability and are not scared off by a possible return of $4 gasoline, we think the QX56 is worth a look, but recommend waiting a couple of months for the arrival of the all-new 2011 model.