2011 Infiniti QX56 Styling

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Styling

Study these photos of the new QX56—then swing by the 2010 QX56 page and tell us which one’s an Infiniti. Easy, right? The new ute’s so much more expressive—so much more typically Infiniti—it’s easy to overlook some real flaws in its styling.

From the side, there’s a quintessential Japanese-ute charm to the QX56. The ratio of glass to metal is right. It stands tall, and maybe a bit narrow. The backwards kick of its D-pillar implies some motion you’d never pick out of the graphics of the last-generation SUV. The subtle swells around the fenders make even more sense when you park next to the smaller Infiniti FX or Infiniti EX, even if they’re more fraternal than identical triplets. The tailgate? Interesting how the center bulges upward like the hoodline, isn’t it?

Bag the vents and the bigness, and the QX56 reminds us of the good old days of real SUVs. (We’re not giving back the rich interior, though.)

The headlights fit the outré Infiniti theme—but there’s no escaping that too-prominent front end and those sigh-inducing fender vents. The vents look straight out of a blister pack from an auto-parts chain, though one of them actually functions to bring cool air under the hood. Up front, let’s just say we’ve seen foreheads, and that’s a five-head. From the side, it’s plainly too tall to fit in with the sleekness you get from the rear quarters. Pick a darker color and it softens considerably—and by all means, view it in person before you judge it. In another hue, the QX56 has warmed on us plenty since it escaped the glaring lights and the unflattering silver paint it wore at the 2010 New York Auto Show.

Slide in and savor the QX’s cabin to seal the deal. This look and feel fits in perfectly with the grace and finesse of the M56 sedan. Finely finished wood burls and swirls around the analog clock, audio controls, and steering wheel on some versions; the hazelnut leather in our test vehicle matched it perfectly. Infiniti’s designers have balanced the shapes and textures on the dash in a subtly masculine way, from the hockey-stick angles of the dash center to the aluminum strip implanted into the shift lever like the stitching on a 22nd-century baseball. We’ve seen lots of clear, finely detailed gauges—and the ones on this Infiniti are some of our favorites. This cockpit’s as radiant as that in the Mercedes-Benz GL, more refined than the one in the Escalade—and closer than ever to the cabin in the excellent Range Rover.

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