2011 INFINITI QX56 Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 29, 2010

The trip back home’s done the Infiniti QX56 a world of good; savor the V-8 and the cabin essence, and buy it in black to subdue that wide, tall front end.

You could say the Infiniti QX56 has a nationality crisis. At first it was a Japanese citizen
with a Japanese passport, back when it was the QX and a clone of the Nissan Pathfinder. Then in 2005, Nissan built a factory in Mississippi, and pasted the QX56 nameplate on the plant’s new big bruiser of an SUV, adding some down-home Americana to its image.

That’s all over for 2011. The QX56 has been de-Dixied and is moving back to Japan, while Nissan figures out what to do with its slow-selling cousins, the Nissan Titan pickup and Armada SUV. The trip back home has been a good one, because now this sport-utility vehicle looks and feels more like an Infiniti than ever. Though it’s drawn from another Nissan vehicle (this time, the global-market Patrol), it asserts a brand-building look that’s much less big-box and far more distinctive than ever before.

It feels way more sophisticated this time around, if you can really use “way” in that sense. There’s a discernible Infiniti umami to be tasted here, a fifth sense missing entirely from the old QX. We’re smitten by the throbbing V-8 that the QX56 shares with the M56 sedan, as well as the plush leather-lined interior and the hardcore off-road hardware—even if we’re not quite as taken with the massive, unsportsmanlike front end, or the dainty steering feel.

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Since it sits at the low end of the luxury-ute range, we’re even willing to look at the 2011 QX56 base price of $56,700 for the two-wheel-drive model as a relative bargain. It’s $59,800 for the four-wheel drive model; both are barely a leap over the outgoing 2010s, despite having more horsepower and standard features. They’re also a good deal less pricey than most any Escalade or Mercedes-Benz GL-Class you might test-drive. You can loop one up over $70,000 with add-ons like the $2,850 Technology Package—but even then, you’re still thousands below the average Caddy, Benz, or even the full-boat Range Rover, while still missing the sublime Infiniti ownership/dealership experience.

If you’re fond of football-build brutes and know how much a Nakashima table goes for retail, you’ll adore the QX56. That’s not too narrow a demographic, is it?

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