The full-sized SUV is an endangered species. Like the dinosaur that formerly ruled the earth, the seven-passenger, body-on-frame SUV has receded from the marketplace. A few holdouts remain, and the freshest of the bunch, the 2012 Infiniti QX56, is back for its second year following a makeover. The 2012 Infiniti QX56 4WD carries a base price of $61,800 ($75,340 as tested), with a 4-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, a 6-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty and EPA estimates of 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway. Let's drive.
The Infiniti QX lineup started out in 1997 as the QX4, essentially a rebadged Nissan Pathfinder. A major redesign for 2004 shared architecture and parts with the bigger Infiniti Armada, and rechristened the vehicle as "QX56." For 2011, Infiniti threw out the playbook, and created a truly all-new QX56. The 2012 QX56 is a holdover from 2011, with some new packaging and a few new technology options available in a package that was already sophisticated and advanced.
Blind Spot Intervention (BSI) is one of the more useful enhancements to the Technology Package (a $3,000 option). Taking the Blind Spot Warning system to another level, BSI selectively applies the brakes to help the vehicle return to its lane if the BSW system detects a vehicle in the blind spot during a lane change. Other newly available technologies include Bose Cabin Surround sound system, heated second row seats and remote tip-up second row seats. QX56 has a wide array of useable technologies, and a nice array of luxury features to boot.
QX probably has the most polarizing exterior design of any of the full-size luxury SUVs currently available. Borrowing heavily from the design cues of the rest of the Infiniti lineup, QX is swoopy and organic where the standard is boxy and squared-off. Buyers who seek anonymous transportation should steer clear of QX -- this SUV attracts attention. I think it looks great, but I'm not shocked that my opinion is not universal.
QX's greatest asset is drivability, one of the hallmarks of the Infiniti brand from top to bottom. QX carries its nearly three-ton weight very well, delivering a smooth, comfortable ride that can even be exhilarating at times, thanks to a 5.6-liter direct injection V8 engine that's pumping out 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. QX has a surprising 9.2" of ground clearance, but still feels planted and secure around the corners. I haven't driven QX56 off-road, but with its sophisticated four-wheel drive system, supple suspension and body-on-frame rigidity, I'd be comfortable putting it through some bumpy paces. A shallow 20.9 degree angle of approach and 22.3 degree angle of departure decrees that QX56 is better designed for gentleperson's off-roading (read "dirt roads") rather than rock climbing, but that's okay. QX56 does a great job of hauling passengers in luxury and comfort, and generating considerable momentum in the process.
QX's chief competitors in the full-size luxury SUV market are few but significant. Lexus brings it with the LX 570, which got its last makeover in 2009. Mercedes-Benz keeps a hand in the game with the GL-class. Land Rover's LR4 rocks the game with its off-road abilities. Cadillac's Escalade is looking long in the tooth, but still shines for many fans. Lincoln's Navigator has been neglected for years, and is desperately in need of a makeover to keep up with the luxury competition.
If you really need a full-size SUV and you want to be surrounded by luxury features and some of the most sophisticated technology on the market, the 2012 Infiniti QX56 is an excellent choice in a small field of competitors.
- Swoopy design.
- Luxurious interior loaded with technology.
- 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque.
- Only 14 mpg. Really?
- Big and heavy.
- Looks might not appeal to all.
Details and specs:
- Base prices: $58,700 (RWD); $61,800 (4WD)
- Engine: 5.6-liter V8 with direct injecction
- Horsepower: 400 @ 5,800 rpm
- Torque: 4180 @ 4,000 rpm
- Transmission: 7-speed automatic with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive
- Fuel Economy: 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway (2WD, 4WD)
- Wheelbase: 121.1" Vehicle Length: 208.3" Width: 79.96" Height: 75.8"
- Curb Weight: 5,595 - 5,855 lbs
- Cargo: 16.6 cubic feet behind third row; 49.6 cubic feet behind second row; 95.1 cubic feet behind first row.
- Warranty: 4 years/60,000 miles basic; 6 years/70,000 miles powertrain