2012 Infiniti QX56 Styling

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Styling

One name, two SUVs--there's nothing in common with the old Infiniti QX56 in today's luxury sport-utility vehicle, and for the record, we're much more in sync with the current look, though it has some notable flaws.

There's some old-school, mid-1980s charm in the QX56's shape. The proportions remind us of the Monteros and Troopers from that era, and it's not much of a surprise to learn the QX shares its running gear with the modern-day version of the Nissan Patrol, another long-running SUV with a faintly retro tall-wagon look. On the QX56, the proportions hit the right note, with glass and metal in good balance, and ride height underscoring the fact that this is no crossover vehicle. The kicked-up D-pillar? We like, same as with the subtly swelled fenders and the raised-inset tailgate.

The QX56 has the silhouette of an old-school Japanese SUV, but the richly finished interior of a modern luxury car.

Where the details miss their target, unfortunately, is up front. The grille and headlights draw all the attention up front, giving the QX56 a very tall forehead. 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. These flaws get muted by darker paint colors--maybe they'd body-color the vents if you asked nicely?

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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