Today's Infiniti QX56 is more appealing, we think, to luxury-car buyers than the one that preceded it. With some interesting callbacks to sport-ute history, and a richly detailed interior, it has a few passages where its good taste lapses.
We detect some vintage charm in the QX's silhouette, especially from the side, where its height and glass areas bring back the days of the Troopers and Monteros of the 1980s. The QX is a version of today's Nissan Patrol, another member of that trio (the only surviving one, in fact), and the faintly retro looks owes plenty to those roots. Most of the proportions hit the right notes: the ride height gives the QX the perfect SUV stance, and the D-pillar angles in such a way as to link it to the rest of the company's vehicles, as do the raised panels on the tailgate and the subtly swelled fenders.
It's the front end and fenders where the details go off the reservation. Massive headlights and a huge grille pull eyeballs right to the QX's nose instantly, and the ute offers up a lot of sheetmetal before it drops down into the chrome grille, giving it a tall forehead and a surprised look. The vents look inexpensive, 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.