2012 Infiniti QX56
We drive Infiniti's flagship SUV
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: April 23rd, 2012
Soft-roader. Luxo-barge. Land yacht. All these barbs and more have been aimed at the luxurious large SUVs being peddled by Toyota, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Infiniti. Yet those moneyed few who have the means (and only sometimes, the need) to drop well north of $50K on a luxury full-size SUV haven't shied away from showrooms, impracticality and recession be damned.
After spending a week in an Infiniti QX56, we can see why. While we can't justify this vehicle to ourselves (not because we're frugal, but because our own automotive tastes are, shall we say, quirkier), we can see why families are using it to drop the kids at their Advanced Latin for Second Graders classes at Fancypants Academy before shipping off to the country club for a nice discussion on sweater-vest futures. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and lots of space and luxury duds will warp one's automotive tastes.
Features & Prices
Love may not cost a thing, but luxury sure does, and our QX certainly rang the cash registers. The base price was $61,800, including such features as a hard-drive navigation system, leather seats, fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a rear tailgate, a power tilt/telescope steering wheel, satellite radio, Infiniti's Around View camera system, a smart key, a wireless cell phone link, a Bose audio system with 13 speakers, and a USB connection.
Options included a $2,950 Theater System (Dual 7-inch color monitors, two wireless headphones, a wireless remote control, a 120-volt power outlet, auxiliary audio and video jacks, heated second row seats, tip-up second row seats) and a $3,000 Technology Package (intelligent cruise control, a blind-spot warning and intervention system, a lane-departure prevention system, a brake-assist system, a distance-control assist system, a forward-collision warning system, pre-crash seat belts, and adaptive front lights). Our tester also had the $4,100 Deluxe Touring Package (Bose surround system, hydraulic body-motion control system, climate-controlled front seats, semi-aniline leather seats, Mocha Burl trim, an advanced climate-control system, second-row foot well courtesy lights, and headlight washers). For $200, we had a cargo mat, cargo net, and first aid kit, and rounding out the options list was a $2,300 Tire and Wheel Package with 22-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and all-season tires. Destination added $990, bringing the total to $75,340.
On the Road
The term "soft-roader" exists for a reason, and because of its size, the QX56 fits the bill. There's body roll, float, and softly-sprung responses galore, yet it doesn't totally annoy, since you know what you're getting into. There's enough oomph under the hood from the 400-horsepower 5.6-liter V-8 to get this beast moving, but save the stoplight shenanigans for your weekend car.
Steering feel is class-appropriate, and all the interior switchgear is easy enough to use, even if there are enough buttons to make NASA controllers feel right at home.
Power reaches the wheels through a 7-speed automatic transmission, and an all-wheel drive system with several drive modes drives the QX.
We mentioned the button supply already, and those pieces of plastic switchgear are surrounded by lots of nice uplevel leather and wood trim. The layout is pleasing to the eye and everything is easy to read, meaning the QX is a nice place to be when stuck in traffic. And spacious, to boot. Third-row passengers seem so far away that you might as well be using social media to contact them. Not while you're driving, though.
The QX's swoopy, soft lines only give more credence to the idea that this big rig is meant for suburban duty only. At least the QX makes no bones about its intended mission. Country-club duty is fine, backcountry bashing is not.
Fuel Economy and Safety
The QX56 has the usual complement of airbags and safety features like ABS, traction control, and anti-skid control. For fuel economy, the QX is rated at 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. We averaged a dismal 12.5 mpg over the life of our test.
For years, the buff books have picked on large luxury SUVs for giving out lots of luxury without much return in performance, fuel economy, or utility, and they've been doing it with good reason. The QX changes things up a bit by offer plenty of space and decent power, but it still lacks any off-road chops (it can't even pretend) and it feels a bit like Grandpa's luxury sedan.
Yet it charms us plenty with its upscale cabin, and again, all that space doesn't hurt. Boulder bashers will know to apply elsewhere, as will enthusiasts who want engagement from their on-road partner. But for the discerning soccer mom or dad, the QX is quite nice, and stacks up well against the Lexus GX and others of its ilk.
Now that's something to talk about over high tea.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2012 Infiniti QX56, click here: 2012 Infiniti QX56.