Engineers and designers who revamped Infiniti’s QX56 last year didn’t miss a trick on this big sport utility -- well, maybe one.
It is big, 208 inches longer than most full-size luxury utes. It is powerful, with a 5.6-liter V-8 pounding out 400 horsepower, up from 320 in the previous generation. It’s luxurious, with thick leather seats and a smooth, quiet ride.
And it’s chock full of technology and amenities. Still, many of those elements are going to ratchet up the base price -- to $60,190 for rear-drive models, and to $63,200 for four-wheel drive.
Those may seem like hefty price tags, but actually it's a bit less than most competitors on the full-size luxury circuit. Consider that even Toyota’s Land Cruiser starts at 78K and change.
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Hopping into the high-riding QX, you get a little help from the standard running boards. You sink into the first-row captain’s chairs, and you can opt for either the same or a three-seat bench for row two.
Third-row seating is standard, along with the electronic fold-flat feature -- which is nice, but rather slow in reclining. Infiniti makes access to the back easy, as second-row seats flip out of the way with the pull of a lever, or the push of an optional center-console button.
Here’s what I don’t understand, though: While the third-row bench is soft and even offers reasonable leg room and a reclining back, it’s too low to the floor for adults to get comfy.
Back on the plus side, the cargo bay has room for several big suitcases, even with the third row in use.
The cabin is remarkably quiet and the ride smooth for a big SUV, thanks in part to the redesign’s move away from the platform previously shared with the Nissan Armada truck.
Also new are the seven-speed automatic transmission and improved handling. It isn’t spry by any means, but neither is it unwieldy. And acceleration is better than many sedans. All in all, the driving experience is pleasant thanks to the SUV’s maneuverability and comfortable surrounds.
Gas mileage is terrible at 14 in the city, 20 on the highway in both two- and four-wheel models, but it is an improvement from the 2010 model’s 12/17-18.
While the QX56 comes loaded with standard features such as leather seats, navigation, a 360-degree camera, voice recognition, power controls, sunroof, tri-zone temperature controls and power tailgate, there are a number of packages to tempt buyers.
The $2,950 Theater Package provides entertainment via two 7-inch monitors, as well as heated second-row seats.
The $4,100 Deluxe Touring Package adds goodies such as Bose surround-sound, a cooling system for front seats, upgraded leather, headlamp washers, and hydraulic body motion control to manage body roll.
More interesting is the $3,000 Technology Package, which is all about safety with intelligent cruise control, brake assist, adaptive lighting, and lane-departure and blind-spot warning systems. The latter two not only warn the driver of danger, but will gently guide the vehicle back into its lane in emergency situations.
About the only thing missing is one of the latest connectivity systems, like Ford’s Synch and Toyota’s Entune. But that could arrive soon, already deployed on the brand-new JX midsize sport utility, along with backup collision intervention technology.
Full-size luxury sport utility
Base price: $60,190
MPG range: 14/20, premium fuel
Competitors: Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, Cadillac Escalade, Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus LX, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz GL Class
Bottom line: Big, powerful rig ready to coddle passengers with luxury and amenities