2008 INFINITI QX56 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 22, 2008

The 2008 Infiniti QX56 misses the mark for a lot of practical reasons, but it can tow a Chris Craft in high style.

In order to bring you this comprehensive review, the car experts at TheCarConnection.com have gathered some of the best reviews from reputable sources. TheCarConnection.com's editors have also drawn from their driving notes of the Infiniti QX56 to make the review especially insightful.

The 2008 Infiniti QX56 sport-utility vehicle, a more luxurious and ornately styled version of the big Nissan Armada, gets a revamp for the 2008 model year, including a new audio and navigation system, fresh front and rear styling, and a power folding third-row seat. The QX56 returns with rear- or all-wheel drive models--oriented for on-road driving--both powered by a 5.6-liter V-8 with 320 horsepower and 393 pound-feet of torque, teamed to a five-speed automatic transmission. It can tow up to 9,000 pounds.

The 2008 Infiniti QX56 isn't as fast as the numbers make it sound--most notably, because it weighs about three tons--but the huge V-8 engine has enough torque to propel this hefty vehicle quite briskly. Handling is a low point, though; the steering is overboosted and light, and aggressive cornering is met with a disconnected feel for the driver and an ungainly wallow for passengers. Maneuverability is hindered by a large turning radius and poor rearward visibility.

The 2008 Infiniti QX56 has a surprisingly stiff ride, considering the pronounced body lean in corners. The interior includes nice, supportive front seats, but the second row isn't as comfortable as one would expect in a full-size SUV, and the third row is cramped, though elevated to avoid help claustrophobia. And while the materials are slightly disappointing, the QX's upright instrument panel is both distinctively styled and user-friendly. For 2008, there's a power-folding third row, steering wheel controls are now lit, and the gauge faces get a new style.

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A very long list of noteworthy standard features help distinguish the 2008 Infiniti QX56. A 12-speaker Bose sound system is standard, mated to a 9.3GB Music Box hard drive, which stores music files for playback in the vehicle. Intelligent Key is also standard, along with leather upholstery, a navigation system, a power tailgate, and a load-leveling rear suspension. Options now include XM NavTraffic and a DVD entertainment system with a larger, eight-inch screen.

Front side airbags, side head-curtain airbags, and electronic stability control are standard on the 2008 Infiniti QX56, along with anti-lock brakes. The QX56 has been tested by the federal government and earned five stars in frontal protection for the driver and four stars for the passenger. It hasn't been tested for side-impact protection or examined at all by the insurance-affiliated IIHS. Another cause for concern is that Consumer Reports has flagged the QX56's reliability in a number of areas.

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2008 INFINITI QX56

Styling

The 2008 Infiniti QX56 takes on the bling crowd with a big, brassy look; inside, it’s more refined and subdued.

The 2008 Infiniti QX56 commands attention with its muscular stance and its power grille, while inside it strikes a more luxurious pose. Reviewers across the Web give it high marks in both areas, though some find the exterior shape a little controversial.

“If 'chrome-y' were a word, it would certainly apply to the 2008 Infiniti QX56,” Edmunds observes, noting the big ute’s “love-it-or-hate-it styling” is a “liability in a segment where appearances are everything." They call it the equal of the Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade in the “battle of the bling SUVs.” While Automedia says “the QX won't offend folks who may have grown up with Suburbans, and their take-no-chances, predictable good looks,” they point out the QX56’s “enormous” headlamps and “chiseled” fender outlines. Despite an update to its shape, in fact, little has changed with the Infiniti SUV since last year, according to Cars.com: "The only readily visible difference between the front end of a 2007 QX56 and the new 2008 model is in the grille. Whereas the 2007 model has flat horizontal chrome bars, the 2008 model gets notched ones, and there are new chrome pegs between them."

There are few disagreements on the Infiniti 2008 QX56's interior, however. Autoblog points out "some new, visually pleasing interior elements...[which] features more wood and soft-touch materials." Cars.com agrees, reporting that the Infiniti QX56's "revised interior styling looks richer than before, with greater use of wood trim on the dash and doors." Edmunds suggests that "if its styling agrees with you, then the rest of the 2008 Infiniti QX56 should, too, thanks to an improved interior" in which "real wood trim and soft leather trim continue to decorate the cabin." It “no longer immediately strikes one as a leather-lined derivative of the workaday Nissan Titan pickup cab,” they say.

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2008 INFINITI QX56

Performance

For a behemoth tipping the scale at over three tons, the 2008 Infiniti QX56 drives and handles remarkably well.

While it may leave something to be desired in the "fun to drive" category, the 2008 Infiniti QX56 has some real guts. At least that's the general consensus among the reviews studied by experts at TheCarConnection.com.

Cars.com reports that "the [Infiniti] 2008 QX56 is powered by a 5.6-liter V-8 engine that produces 320 horsepower and 393 pounds-feet of torque," adding that "maximum towing capacity is 9,000 pounds when properly equipped"--impressive. When it comes to acceleration, ConsumerGuide remarks that "it's no neck snapper, but getaways and passing sprints are reasonably brisk for a big, heavy SUV," noting that "one test model suffered from a slightly touchy throttle, which caused it to lurch slightly from a stop." Edmunds attests, “The QX56 is quick for a full-size SUV, going from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds,” and Automedia calls it “best in class acceleration.” Motor Trend comments that "the power of the 5.6L Endurance V-8 still impresses me...it feels every pound-foot of its 393 torque number."

Cars.com reports that the 2008 Infiniti's engine "drives a five-speed automatic transmission that features a tow/haul mode," and that "rear- and four-wheel-drive models are offered." Motor Trend notes that the "transmission is flexible and responsive enough, but the strong engine is probably better served with another gear or two. Still, it runs through the gears quickly and smoothly when you put your foot in it." Automedia observes, “Responses are instantaneous, with no perceptible hunting.”

The QX56 is no gas sipper. As Edmunds points out, "thanks to that muscular V8, the QX is voracious at the gas pump...As is typical for this class of vehicle, gas mileage is poor, with 12 mpg city and 17/18 mpg highway using the EPA's revised 2008 testing regimen." To add insult to injury, ConsumerGuide reports "Infiniti recommends premium-grade gas."

Still, Edmunds acknowledges that the Infiniti QX56 "is one of the better full-size luxury SUVs on the market in terms of acceleration and agile handling," with "impressive balance of ride and handling," thanks to the QX56's "fully independent suspension." ConsumerGuide reports that the Infiniti QX56 "is a tad smoother than [the]Armada, but rough roads still induce some shuddery jiggle," noting that it is "big-truck ponderous," but "capable on winding roads within its limits." Kelley Blue Book points out that "the QX56's tall profile and curb weight of nearly three tons can elicit considerable body roll during really brisk cornering or transition maneuvers," but Autoblog says that "even with substantial cargo, the independent self-leveling rear suspension kept the attitude of the QX56 constant," adding that "four wheel disc brakes stopped us quickly and confidently."

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2008 INFINITI QX56

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Infiniti QX56 has less room inside than other big SUVs, but it’s lavishly trimmed and has comfortable three-row seating.

TheCarConnection.com gives the 2008 Infiniti QX56 high marks for passenger comfort, but it loses points on cargo space and storage.

Cars.com reports the Infiniti QX56's "standard second-row captain's chairs give the three-row SUV a seven-person seating capacity, and a second-row bench seat bumps it up to eight." ConsumerGuide states, "Occupants ride high on wide, supportive seats with ample headroom and legroom," adding that the 2008 Infiniti QX56's "power-adjustable seat, pedals, and power tilt steering column are boons for driver comfort."

There seems to be some difference of opinion when it comes to second- and third-row seating aboard this Infiniti 2008, however. ConsumerGuide says, "Space in the 2nd row is bountiful, but the seats are ordinary for shape and comfort," while "space in the 3rd row is tight for adults." On the other hand, Edmunds reports that "SUV buyers crave roomy cabins and the [Infiniti] QX56's fits the bill, with spacious second and third rows." Either way, Kelley Blue Book calls it "a stylish, comfortable, featured-packed interior." Cars.com notes, “The QX56 now comes standard with a power-folding third-row seat.”

It appears that the 2008 Infiniti QX56 drops the ball when it comes to cargo space, however; ConsumerGuide reports that "there's only grocery-bag space behind the 3rd row seat, plus modest under-floor storage," though they acknowledge that "numerous bins, pockets, and beverage holders create very good small-item storage." Edmunds points out the Infiniti 2008 QX56's cargo capacity "is less than most of its competitors...though the [Infiniti] QX56 offers a decent 20 cubic feet of luggage room with all three rows in use, maximum cargo capacity trails that of others in its class, coming in at just 97 cubic feet."

There's a lot to recommend the Infiniti QX56 in terms of ergonomics and quality, according to ConsumerGuide: "most controls are intuitive and clearly marked, though a few buttons are a stretch for either driver or passenger to easily reach...assembly quality is very good...padded surfaces and soft-touch materials are fitting of this SUV's premium pricing." Edmunds notes, "Materials have also been greatly improved, while real wood trim and soft leather trim continue to decorate the cabin."

Noise levels aboard the Infiniti QX56 could be better, but they could be worse as well: "Extra sound insulation makes [the 2008 Infiniti] QX56 a bit quieter than [the] Armada, but the engine still roars during full-throttle acceleration. Tire thrum intrudes on coarse pavement, but wind rush is subdued," reports ConsumerGuide. “The Q idles quietly but under acceleration the stainless steel exhaust emits a specially-tuned, powerful rumble. It's not as aggressive as the Titan pickup's throaty bellow, but it's noticeably cool. Luxury trucks with designer sound...what will they think of next?” Automedia asks.

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2008 INFINITI QX56

Safety

The 2008 Infiniti QX56 offers good crash protection, but its sheer bulk and the laws of physics are not on its side.

The 2008 Infiniti QX56 performs well in crash tests, though rollover ratings are low.

In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) series of crash tests, the Infiniti QX56 receives five out of five stars for frontal impact protection of the driver, and four stars for the passenger. The scores for rollover resistance are not as good, with the Infiniti 2008 QX56 receiving only three stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not tested the Infiniti QX56 for 2008.

Edmunds reports "a host of safety features are standard, including antilock disc brakes, stability control, full-length side curtain airbags, a reverse parking sensor and a rearview camera." That last item is important, as parking the Infiniti QX56 is no walk in the park; Cars.com reports that the Infiniti 2008's "front and rear parking sensors can help make parking this 17-foot-long SUV less hair-raising, as does the standard rearview camera."

It also helps on the road. Although ConsumerGuide reports that visibility "is generally good," the 2008 Infiniti QX56's "tall stance hides close-by objects." While the "available rearview camera helps," it's nonetheless "more susceptible to collecting road grime than rival systems."

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2008 INFINITI QX56

Features

The 2008 Infiniti QX56 has enough features to satisfy the most discerning drivers—and families.

Features and options galore adorn the 2008 Infiniti QX56.

TheCarConnection.com gives the 2008 Infiniti QX56 high marks in this area: Cars.com reports that just the standard equipment for the Infiniti 2008 includes "power-adjustable, heated leather front seats with memory, a Burr-Brown stereo with a 9.5 GB hard drive, Bluetooth-based cell phone connectivity and a navigation system." Kelley Blue Book adds "the [Infiniti] QX56's outstanding features include xenon HID headlights, a comprehensive array of power assists, front dual-zone automatic and rear climate control."

According to Cars.com, available options for this Infiniti 2008 include a "DVD entertainment system [that is] now 8 inches, up from 7 inches," as well as "Intelligent Cruise Control, which can maintain a given distance between the [Infiniti] QX56 and a vehicle ahead."

Beyond this, however, Kelley Blue Book notes that "given its expansive roster of standard equipment, the [2008 Infiniti] QX56's list of extras is minimal...that list includes an available no-charge 60/40 split-folding second-row bench in place of the captain's chairs and removable console, Intelligent Cruise Control with front proximity sensors, the Infiniti Mobile Entertainment System (rear-seat DVD package with eight-inch flip-down screen and dual wireless headsets), a tow package (standard with four-wheel drive), splash guards and XM Satellite Radio, with or without the real-time NavTraffic update feature."

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8.2
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Expert Rating
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Styling 8
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 8
Features 10
Fuel Economy N/A
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