The Car Connection INFINITI QX56 Overview
The Infiniti QX56, which now continues as the Infiniti QX80, is a large, luxurious body-on-frame sport-utility vehicle that takes on the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, and Lexus LX 570, as well as the Land Rover Range Rover.
See our full review of the 2013 Infiniti QX56 for our full take -- with options, specifications, and gas-mileage ratings -- on the most recent model year of the QX56.
A plush, full-size sport-utility vehicle, the Infiniti QX56 was first introduced for the 2004 model year. It was a companion to the Nissan Pathfinder Armada through its first generation.
In that first generation, on sale from the 2004 model year through the 2010 model year, the QX56 shared an assembly line and a platform with the Armada. Both vehicles were in fact spun from the full-size pickup architecture that was engineered for the Nissan Titan. The first QX56 sported a 5.6-liter V-8, eventually upgraded over the years to 320 horsepower and 393 pound-feet of torque, coupled to a five-speed automatic and offered with rear- or four-wheel drive.
The first-generation QX56 was noted for its brawny performance--it was capable of towing up to 9,000 pounds--but on the luxury side, it fell short of the standards set by vehicles like the Cadillac Escalade. Interior space for seven was ample, but the QX's plastic trim felt low-grade. In 2008, Infiniti addressed some of this with a mild restyling that updated the SUV's front and rear ends, added new audio and navigation features, and replaced the dash with a much nicer one, finished in richer materials more fitting to the Infiniti brand.
While Nissan's Titan and Armada lineup have struggled to find their niche, the QX56 has moved on. It's no longer built alongside those vehicles--and no longer shares their architecture. Now a twin of a Japanese-market SUV, the second-generation QX56 emerged in the 2011 model year. It's slightly shorter than before, but still a seven-passenger vehicle, still powered by a 5.6-liter V-8--now, with 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. Coupled to a seven-speed automatic, the QX's straight-line performance is better than ever, and so is fuel economy, though at 14/20 mpg, it's still nowhere near the diesel or hybrid class leaders. Off-roading is helped by an optional hydraulic suspension, and towing remains high at 8500 pounds.
The latest QX56 also trounces its predecessor in aesthetics. The very tall front end's a lot to digest, but once it's down, the rest of the QX's body seems natural and familiar, if you know the past few decades of Japanese SUVs by their side views. The interior's an upscale gem, with wood and leather that's graceful and masculine at the same time. The front and second-row seats are plush and comfortable, but the third row is for children only. Cargo space is excellent, and the cargo floor is lower than before.
Still a bit behind the latest Fords and Chryslers for in-car features, the QX56 has standard features fitting for its sub-$60,000 price point, including navigation; DVD audio; Bluetooth audio streaming; and pushbutton start. It also comes with the Infiniti dealer experience, something that rivals like Lincoln's Navigation and Cadillac's Escalade still can't quite match, more than 30 years down the road.
Changes were relatively minor heading into 2012 and 2013; although the 2013 Infiniti QX56 did get a new rearview camera system.