The Infiniti QX56, referred to by its makers as being like a private jet, is more like a hotel room on wheels than a truck. You can control the lighting, set the thermostats front and rear, move the furniture around, and choose your entertainment.
Fit, finish, tolerances and materials are at the top of the class. The first- and second-row bucket seats are some of the thickest, most comfortable we've ever tried. Underway, the QX56 is quiet, plush, luxurious, and very easy to drive. It comes loaded with equipment, including a vast array of electronic entertainment and information available to its family users.
The Infiniti QX56 offers seven or eight seats and 8500-pound towing capability. It comes in rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions, with a five-mode all-wheel-drive system controlled by a wheel on the console.
The Infiniti QX56 was totally redesigned for 2011 and is unchanged for the 2012 model year. The QX56 is lower and wider and more stylish than the pre-2011 models. The Infiniti QX56 competes with the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Lexus LX 570, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, Audi Q7, and Range Rover.
The 2011 redesign eliminated a lot of the oddball design touches that characterized the original QX. It's much more aerodynamic than before, and third-row headroom was increased. The frame underneath was all-new for 2011 also, with a new fully independent suspension, automatic rear load-leveling, and an available active suspension.
A 5.6-liter V8 benefits from 32 valves and double overhead-camshafts with direct fuel injection and variable valve timing and lift to generate 400 horsepower and 413 foot-pounds of torque.
The QX56 powertrain also features a 7-speed transmission designed for first-gear acceleration for the 5600-pound truck and its cargo or trailer, while the top two gears are both overdrive for good highway fuel economy. The 7-speed automatic transmission has adaptive shifting to match each driver's driving style, with manual shift override, including a sporty throttle-blip provided on manual downshifts.
Four-wheel-drive versions of the QX56 have a selector switch on the console offering automatic, four-wheel-drive high, four-wheel-drive low, low lock, tow mode and snow modes. The auto mode moves engine torque back and forth between front and rear axles up to 100 percent rear, but no higher than 50 percent front.
Compared to 2010 and older models, this latest QX56 is 2.1 inches shorter in wheelbase (at 121.1 inches) for sharper handling, and the front and rear tracks are wider. Body width has increased by 1.1 inches, and length by 1.4-inches while overall height has been lowered by a huge 3.2 inches. Yet despite all the body, chassis and interior changes, the 2012 QX56 is about the same weight as the old truck.
Like every modern luxury SUV, the 2012 QX56 carries plenty of electronic technology onboard to make driving safer and more enjoyable. A tire pressure inflation indicator system honks the horn and flashes the hazard flashers when correct tire inflation pressure is reached, thus eliminating the fill-and-check, fill-and-check ritual with a tire pressure gauge. This may surprise you if you forget it has this feature the first time you add air at a service station.
After such a major overhaul for 2011, changes to the 2012 Infiniti QX56 are modest. Perhaps the most significant change is the new Blind Spot Intervention (BSI) technology, an industry first according to Infiniti, that goes a step beyond Blind Spot Warning systems by using selective braking to steer the 2012 QX56 back into the center of its own lane should the driver stray into the path of a vehicle approaching in an adjacent lane. Other changes for 2012 are confined to the content of various option packages.
The 2012 Infiniti QX56 comes in two models, the rear-wheel-drive QX56 ($59,200) and the all-wheel-drive QX56 4WD ($62,300). (All prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)
The 2012 QX56 comes standard with leather seating and trim; multi-adjustable power seats, tri-zone climate control; a multi-function steering wheel; power windows, mirrors, and locks; cruise control; and four 12-volt power points. The hard-drive navigation system comes standard and includes XM NavWeather, XM NavTraffic, the Zagat Survey restaurant guide, and voice activation for navigation, audio and vehicle systems check. It also comes with a Bose 13-speaker AM/FM/CD/DVD/MP3 sound system with XM satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio, auxiliary and USB connections, and iPod compatibility. The standard seating configuration is two front bucket seats, two second-row bucket seats with a second console, and a three-place folding rear seat, but if the customer needs seating for eight, a folding second-row bench seat is available (at no extra cost, providing you order the Theater Package).
Option packages must be stacked in an order dictated by Infiniti. Any QX56 can be ordered with the Theater Package ($2,950), which buys twin 7-inch screens mounted on the front-seat headrests, two sets of wireless headphones, auxiliary audio/video input jacks, and a 120-volt power outlet to power up gaming consoles or other entertainment equipment; plus heated second-row seats with remote tip-up control.
If you choose the Theater Package, you can further upgrade to the Tire and Wheel Package ($2,300), which consists of 275/55R22 tires on 22-inch 9-spoke forged alloy wheels.
With those two boxes ticked, you can add the Deluxe Touring Package ($4,500), featuring Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround audio with 15 speakers, Hydraulic Body Motion Control, semi-aniline leather seats with heating and cooling in the front row, an upgraded HVAC system, Mocha Burl interior trim, and headlamp washers.
Only on top of all the above can you add the Technology Package ($3,000), with Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning, which will actively brake the car to prevent a collision; Intelligent Cruise Control; adaptive front lighting for cornering; pre-crash seat-belt tensioners; Lane Departure Warning and Prevention; and Blind Spot Warning and Intervention. These last two will actually steer the vehicle back onto its intended path if the driver lets it wander into the next lane and ignores the warning.
Safety equipment includes six airbags, front, side-impact and curtain, ABS brakes, traction control, yaw control. The optional all-wheel drive and the Technology Package further enhance safety as they can help the driver avoid an accident.