Infiniti QX56 Review

Infiniti QX56 Review

Exemplifying the "bigger is better" school of thought, the Infiniti QX56 is a worthy competitor among full-size luxury SUVs. Through the course of two generations, the QX56 benefited from a powerful V8 engine and above-average towing capabilities. Off-road prowess, on the other hand, was never a primary concern, as the QX56 was intended more for urban recreation or pulling a boat to the river. For scenarios such as those, the QX56 managed quite well, with a comfortable cabin and myriad high-tech features.

The first-generation QX56 suffered from some less-than-luxurious interior materials and less cargo capacity, but the second-generation model addressed those shortcomings. As the QX was designed to be more of a versatile and foul-weather-capable luxury transport than a wilderness tamer, rugged outdoorsmen may want to look elsewhere. But those seeking a well-appointed used luxury SUV should be well served by either of the brawny Infiniti QX56 generations.

Note that for 2012 this model's name was changed to QX and then again for 2014 to QX80. They are covered in separate reviews.

Used Infiniti QX56 Models
The last Infiniti QX56 generation was technically only produced for 2011, when this vehicle was completely redesigned. However, it continued on with minimal changes under the new names mentioned above, so used shoppers won't be missing out on much. Compared to the older model, this second-generation QX56 boasts better handling, greater refinement and more power. It is based on an off-road-ready Nissan SUV available in other markets rather than a full-size pickup truck like the first QX56 was.

This full-size luxury SUV seats seven or eight passengers and came loaded with a wealth of standard features like 20-inch wheels, xenon headlights, tri-zone automatic climate control, a top-view camera system, a power-folding third-row bench seat and a 13-speaker Bose audio system. Optional highlights included an active suspension system, a twin-screen rear entertainment system, ventilated front seats, adaptive cruise control and a host of high-tech safety features designed to either prevent a crash or protect the occupants in the event of one.

A 5.6-liter V8 with 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque powers the QX56. A seven-speed automatic is the only transmission offered and features manual shift control with rev-matched downshifts. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with four-wheel drive optional. Properly equipped, the QX can tow an impressive 8,500 pounds and is aided by a tow/haul mode for the transmission as well as an automatic-leveling rear suspension.

In reviews, we found this QX56 to be a pretty impressive luxury SUV, with the large collection of features and potent V8 being the main draws. Downsides include cramped third-row seating and a ride quality that's not as smooth as what's provided by competing models.

The first-generation QX56 debuted for the 2004 model year and lasted until 2010. It shared its chassis and other major mechanicals with the Armada SUV and Titan pickup. Under the hood the QX came with a 5.6-liter V8 that produced 320 hp and 393 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic was standard, and buyers could choose between rear-wheel- and four-wheel drive. There was only one available trim level, and pretty much every feature was standard. The few notable options included a rear-seat entertainment system, adaptive cruise control and a sunroof.

Infiniti made only minor changes early on, including a 60/40 split for the third-row seat, a standard Bluetooth hands-free system and enhanced exterior mirrors for 2006. The biggest changes occurred for '08, when subtle styling changes and a significant interior redesign made it look and feel like a more upscale vehicle, with improved materials quality and a new instrument cluster design. That year, the standard equipment list grew and the audio and navigation systems were updated.

In road tests, our editors praised the Infiniti QX56 for its refined powertrain, smooth ride and family-friendly passenger quarters. Acceleration was impressive and fuel economy, though dismal, was at least comparable to other full-size SUVs. However, many of its competitors offered a better mix of everything. Models previous to 2008 were also let down by lackluster interior quality.