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Infiniti QX56 super luxurious yet so capable Off-Road

Infiniti's QX56 is luxurious and capable
Infiniti's QX56 is luxurious and capable
Ron Moorhead

2011 Infiniti QX56

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It may be difficult for some to believe that full-sized Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are making a rebound. Yes, even in the San Francisco Bay area it appears there are many drivers who continue to need the interior space and versatility full-sized SUVs have to offer.

Infiniti projected this would be perfect for reworking their QX56 SUV to take advantage of the increased interest in luxury SUVs. In that vein, Infiniti has given the QX56 plenty of the luxury features these buyers indicated they want on their vehicles.

The exterior has a much more sedan appearance the new dual wave grille follows the new family design. Unlike other full sized SUVs, the headlights appear softer and sit lower on the fenders. The QX56 seems to get softer yet continues to make a substantial hold on the road.

According to Infiniti designers, the exterior design continues with the brush stroke idea that began with the M sedan. It is interesting how the single artist brush stroke can be taken from paper to production transforming into a vehicle design that not only looks attractive it is also functional.

There is no mistake the QX56 is a luxury vehicle. Slide behind the steering wheel and you are wrapped in an environment that is full of attractive and welcoming metal, leather and wood tone trim. The seating is designed and engineered to be comfortable and supportive.

You cannot have a vehicle packed with a plethora of high tech features without a seeming completely full instrument panel and dash. Nearly all of the electronic control systems can be switched on or nearly off. Most, if not all, are default on. Meaning, each system returns to the on position each time the ignition system is toggled off. Like nearly all vehicles in this category electronic systems are programmed in this manner. This is a good thing for most drivers, as they usually become reliant on these systems without realizing.

I however, must confess there is one innovation seen rising in popularity I find quite annoying. I have this opinion about all of these systems without prejudice for the vehicle on which they are installed. Lane departure warning is quite good at what it does, alerting drivers if they wander over either the road’s middle divider line or the fog line.

However, the continual beeping as I wound my way along back country roads made me winze each time it made an alert. Turning it off was the solution, however, out on the highway or freeway I made sure it was turned back on. It makes sense on the highway.

One newly introduced innovation available on the QX56 as part of the Deluxe Touring Package is the Hydraulic Body Motion Control system. It electronically senses a cornering maneuver, as a tight turn, and adjusts the suspension system to nearly eliminate all of the body lean experienced on a normal vehicle.

Need to allow passenger into the third seat? Know how it can be difficult? No worries here and no need to jump from the driver’s seat either. The QX56 is equipped with a helpful feature; just push a switch on the dash and the left or right section of the second row seat releases and folds forward allowing easy access to the third seat.

Infiniti engineers have not forgotten the power and performance factor needed to satisfy this market. Not only must the QX56 be luxurious and comfortable it must be capable at merging into the freeway race we all seem to battle. It does well. This vehicle is also quite smooth at administering the power and performance.

The reworked 5.6-liter V-8 produces a nice 400 horsepower and for those towing exercises a very capable 413 lb-ft. of torque. Run this through an electronically controlled 7-speed automatic transmission with manual mode and you have a vehicle that is nearly perfect for family functions.

Given its 8500 pound tow capacity it is good that Infiniti added a rear suspension that levels the vehicle automatically. Place it on the highway and it soaks up the expansion joints and cracked concrete with ease. Yet, set out on a back-road full of twisty corners the QX56 handles less SUV-like and much more car-like. This is a bow to the experts that make the QX56 a luxurious SUV that isn’t a wallowing wheeled whale.

Infiniti has raised the bar on the luxury SUV.

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