Despite what appears to be an effort to infuse a dollop of FX style to the front end, the 2011 Infiniti QX56 manages to retain an awkward-looking "forehead" (much like its predecessor) that's reminiscent of Frankenstein's monster, thanks to the not-insubstantial amount of bodywork that rises above the headlamps. There's also a garish fender vent that appears to be the size of Martha's Vineyard. While the QX56's front and rear end treatments are unique to the Infiniti, the basic profile and daylight opening are identical to the new Patrol, as is the lavishly-appointed interior, which appears to just swap steering wheel logos.
Given that we already know the vehicle nomenclature - QX56 - look for the same 5.6-liter, 400-horsepower, 405 pound-foot direct-injected V8 that's available in the Nissan. Likewise, we expect to see most, if not all, of the same technological features the new Patrol offers, such as its seven-speed automatic transmission, electronic four-wheel-drive with driver-selectable modes, and hydraulic anti-roll system.
First Drive: 2011 Infiniti QX56Driving It
The Infiniti QX56 has a great powertrain. Off-the-line throttle response is satisfying, and freeway speeds are reached effortlessly. If you're cruising along at 70 mph and want to pass someone, hammer the throttle and the seven-speed transmission crisply and quickly downshifts several gears while the tachometer needle races to the 8000-rpm redline. Before you know it, you're at 95 mph. Braking performance seems adequate for the task of decelerating this three-ton beast, and the brake pedal has decent feel and feedback. Not so the steering, which feels artificial and a tad lifeless. It's reasonably precise, though, so you don't take long to figure out how to point the QX56 through corners with minimal steering correction. In a brief back-to-back drive between the new 2011 QX56 and the outgoing 2010 QX56, we gave the nod to the old model's steering, which was slightly more communicative and natural feeling.
Ride comfort is impressive on the 2011 QX56, though, especially on smooth pavement. There's only so much you can do to tamp down the dynamic forces of a vehicle this tall and with this center of gravity, but Infiniti does a pretty good job here: the QX56 doesn't suffer from undue pitching and bobbing, at least when equipped with the Hydraulic Body Motion Control System.
At freeway speeds, there's some wind noise coming over the roof rails (which are quite a bit more aerodynamic than on the last QX) and around the big sideview mirrors. The second-row seats aren't noisy, but they're not as hush-hush quiet as the back seat of a big luxury sedan, either. There's simply no way around the fact that the big, boxy QX56 is redirecting a lot of air around itself when it's on the move.
There's plenty here to appeal to the Real Housewives and Husbands of the various upmarket ZIP Codes who will be driving these suburban haulers. (Long Island is far and away the QX56's biggest single market, due to its affluence and, presumably, its large number of boats, horses, and other toys to be towed; the new QX has an 8500-lb tow rating.) Compared with the outgoing QX56, in this one, you have a vague perception of the narrower cabin. But, hey, a narrow, elegantly appointed fuselage just makes you feel like you're in a Lear jet, right?
First Drive: 2011 Infiniti QX56 overcomes the oddsArguably Best-in-Class ... Does the Class Have a Future?
With $60-70k stickers, it's pretty easy for Infiniti to import the QX56. If demand wanes, the home-market factory can simply adjust Nissan Patrol production. The QX56 is a handsome, distinctive choice in its class, and Infiniti is very confident the segment's sales will remain healthy. We're not so sure of that, however - we've heard that kind of optimism before.
The numbers all talk a pretty good talk, and for the most part, their sum means that the QX56 drives more like a big sedan than a lumbering brute. Power from that reworked V8 is more than ample, and when you give the truck the spurs, it responds with capable speed and a flurry of seamless shifts. Thanks in part to its lower overall height, stability feels greatly improved over the old Armada-based QX, and you find yourself carrying more speed through tight corners than should be possible. We would have liked to have seen more communicative steering in a vehicle of this size, though – the steering wheel offers next to no feedback and was overly sensitive, resulting in lane wandering of the worst variety. Likewise, the brakes, while plenty powerful, are controlled by a less-than-confidence-inspiring pedal. We don't expect racecar characteristics here, but a little firmness never hurts.
For our money, if the luxury SUV genus is to survive for our posterity, it might as well look like the QX56. For 2011, the truck's engineers have managed to give the creation the camouflage it needs to survive in a world dominated by new breeds of crossover, all while keeping the base price identical to the 2010 model – the new Q starts at $56,700 for the two-wheel drive model. It's more comfortable, more controllable, more efficient and more powerful than its ancestors. There may come a day when the QX mutates from the body-on-frame beast we have come to know and love into a more svelte unibody design, but we hope we aren't around to see it.
Feel inspiration that extends far beyond the driver in the redesigned 2018 QX80 with world-famous architect and designer Laertis Ando Vassiliou, who shares a custom house concept called Maralah. See how progressive styling influences new levels of luxury in an 8-passenger SUV. Experience the confidence of industry-leading performance and safety technologies.
2018 INFINITI QX80 Performance Features
- 5.6-liter V8 engine with 400 hp, 413 lb-ft of torque
- 8,500 lbs towing capacity
- Hydraulic Body Motion Control
- 4-Wheel Active Brake Limited Slip
- Zero-Lift Aerodynamics
- Adaptive Front lighting System
- 22-inch wheels
- All-Mode 4WD®
2018 INFINITI QX80 Safety Features
- Blind Spot Warning and Blind Spot Intervention® — Use sensors to help alert you to a vehicle detected entering the blind spot area and can actively help avoid them.
- World’s First Predictive Forward Collision Warning – Watches two cars ahead to help warn you of danger — sometimes before you even see it.