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The Infiniti QX56 is a confusingly good vehicle on many fronts. It's better than any past Infiniti ute ever was, and it's the superior of some of the big, pricey off-roaders that outsell it by a factor of thousands. At the same time, it's also built in Japan--not the U.S. of A., not even England--and it's a gas-guzzler, with not even a diesel in sight. This, from the company pioneering the first mass-market electric car, ever.
Quandaries aside, the QX56 looks the part of an SUV--a slightly retro-tinged one, with a flavor of the Japanese SUVs of the 1980s. Think Montero and Trooper--and Nissan Patrol, on which the QX is based--and you'll see the kinship in the QX's thinner profile, the lighter side glass, the higher ground clearance. A lot of the bulk of the last, American-made QX56 is gone, but some of the awkwardness remains, most of it up front, at the tall forehead and the cheesy fender vents that seem desperately in need of a body-color paint job. Inside? It's a tasteful blend of metallic trim and burled wood, gracefully split up by leather and logically arranged controls and strong, masculine lines.
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.
The full-size SUV rumbles to life as soon as its pushbutton starter is pressed. The current powerplant shares the same 5.6 liters of V-8 displacement as the old American-made version--only here, the NASCAR-tinged exhaust rumble's been swapped out for a lush, muscular engine note that's altogether more powerful and more suitable for a luxury vehicle. In its current trim, the QX56 makes a prodigious 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque, and makes the most of it by coupling it to a seven-speed automatic with almost imperceptible shifts. It's a strong, silent type of powertrain that pushes the QX56 to 60 mph in about seven seconds, according to Infiniti's estimates.
While the transmission has more gears and the engine less friction, fuel economy hasn't gone up all that much. It's EPA-rated at 14/20 mpg--better than before, okay for full-size SUVs, not so stellar in the grander scheme of things, even among luxury utes.
Since the QX56 shares some of its rugged underpinnings with the military-grade Nissan Patrol, it’s no surprise the Infiniti has off-roading in its genetic makeup. For traction, Infiniti upgrades the rear-drive QX56 to full-time four-wheel drive with a real low drive ratio. Torque is biased to the rear, but can be split 50:50 between the front and rear axles when wheels start slipping. It’s fairly simple and effective—more so with the QX’s standard hill-start-assist electronics.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.