2010 Infiniti QX56 4WDPosted on November 15th, 2009
Full-sized luxury SUV with off-road capability
By Nina Russin
The QX56 is the big kahuna of sport-utility vehicles. Stepping inside the expansive passenger cabin, I am humbled by its scale.
Just how big is it? The QX56 measures seventeen and a quarter feet end-to-end. The wheelbase is 123 inches. Curb weight is just over three tons. The QX56 can tow up to 9000 pounds: over twice our ALV minimum towing standard.
Power comes from a 320-horsepower V8 engine and five-speed automatic transmission. The QX accelerates surprisingly well for a vehicle of its size. The down side is poor fuel economy. On the test drive I averaged 13.7 miles-per-gallon: slightly lower than the EPA estimate.
A fully-independent front and rear suspension with stabilizer bars gives the QX56 a compliant ride, while controlling the body roll during cornering. Infiniti’s four-wheel drive system includes a part-time transfer case, providing low gears for extreme terrain. For those who decide to take their vehicles off-road, I’d recommend a spare set of rims in lieu of the 20-inch chrome wheels on the test car.
Four-wheel disc brakes with standard antilock braking stop the car in a firm, linear fashion. I was as impressed with the vehicle’s braking performance as I was with its acceleration.
Test drive up the Beeline Highway
During a recent test drive in Phoenix, I decided to head north, to see how well the Infiniti SUV handles climbing and sweeping turns. The Beeline highway between Phoenix and Payson provides both, rising from 1500 to 5000 feet between the two points. Once north of Phoenix, the road snakes through granite formations to either side. Not only is it an excellent road to test cars on, the Beeline is also one of my favorite scenic drives.
Prior to heading north, I drove the car around town, to see how well it would handle traffic. Being in such a big truck definitely impacts visibility, especially to the back and rear corners. A rearview camera on the test car solves the parking problem. Not only does the camera image eliminate blind spots; superimposed lines show the driver’s trajectory according to steering inputs.
When moving forward, the back view is more of a problem. Drivers in low-profile vehicles and motorcycles are quite hard to see in back. The outside mirrors do a good job of displaying vehicles in the adjacent lanes. I had no problems looking for openings when I needed to pass slower cars.
Over-the-shoulder visibility to the left is limited by a thick B pillar. The view out the right side is not a problem.
The 5.6-liter V8 engine has plenty of torque to permit good acceleration in the critical 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range. I had no problems accelerating into high-speed traffic. Despite their size, the outside mirrors don’t obstruct the driver’s forward view when cornering.
Response from the speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering system is quite good. The QX56 had plenty of power to muscle up the grades on the Beeline Highway, and the chassis remained in control through some high-speed turns.
While it’s harder to overcome inertia in a large car than a small one, the QX performed well when I simulated an emergency lane change. The vehicle’s 40.8-foot turning radius makes it possible to do a U-turn on wider roads.
Intelligent cruise control on the test car is an $1150 option. The system enables the driver to preselect a following distance from the vehicle in front. While the option is pricy, it allows the driver to use cruise control in traffic, reducing fatigue and enhancing fuel economy.
Perimeter sensors on all four corners of the vehicle sound audible alarms when the driver approaches obstacles. Considering its high seating position, the sensors provide valuable information about objects in the driver’s blind spots.
I didn’t take the QX56 off-road, since I didn’t want to be remembered as the journalist who bent the chrome rims. But on paper, the car has everything necessary for off-road driving: appropriate approach and departure angles, extreme low gears for crawling over large rocks, and nine inches of ground clearance. Skid plates underneath the car prevent damage to chassis components.
The biggest drawback, aside from the wheels is its length. Longer trucks lack the maneuverability of shorter ones, especially on narrow, winding trails.
Inside, the QX56 provides comfortable seating for up to seven passengers. Captain’s chairs in the first and second rows come with standard seat heaters, to enhance comfort during temperature extremes. Redundant rear temperature controls in the first and second rows make it easier for passengers to make adjustments. Vents behind the center console and the ceiling circulate air through all three rows.
All three rows have ample access to cup and bottle holders and 12-volt power points. A handy storage shelf to either side of the center console holds small electronic devices and maps. All four doors have map holders.
The second-row captain’s chairs tumble forward to ease access and egress to the third row. Standard running boards make it easier to climb in back. While the stadium-style seats have limited headroom, I was impressed with the amount of leg and hip room in the third row.
Center consoles between each row of captain’s chairs include large, covered bins. The front console has the DVD port and headphone jacks for the optional rear entertainment system ($1700). The standard Bose surround-sound audio system includes satellite radio, a compact disc player and downloadable hard drive.
Overhead reading lamps illuminate all three rows after dark. There is even a lamp in the cargo area.
A mouse device in the center stack controls the standard navigation, audio and information functions, eliminating unnecessary buttons. Infiniti uses a split screen to display directions on the navigation screen. I found it easier to read than most systems, and user-friendly to program.
The information page displays average and real-time fuel economy, maintenance intervals, real-time traffic updates, vehicle location and GPS data.
Versatile cargo area
A power liftgate and power folding rear seats make it much easier to load up the back of the vehicle. The second-row seats also fold flat to extend the cargo floor. The QX56 comes standard with roof rails and a tow hitch.
All models come with front, side and side curtain airbags, four-channel antilock braking, traction and vehicle dynamic control. The driver can turn off the vehicle dynamic control using a switch on the center console, to let the wheels spin on extreme off-road trails. A first aid kit is also standard.
Base price on the QX56 four-wheel drive is $59,150, not including an $865 delivery charge. The luxury sport-utility vehicle is on display at Infiniti dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A full-sized sport-utility vehicle with a high level of standard comfort, convenience and safety features, plus the ability to go off road. The QX56 has good acceleration, and much better steering response than one might expect from such a large vehicle.
Dislikes: Poor fuel economy; limited visibility to the rear.
Model: QX56 4WD
Base price: $59,150
As tested: $62,865
Horsepower: 320 Hp @ 5200 rpm
Torque: 393 lbs.-ft @ 3400 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Standard
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 12/17 mpg city/highway
One response to “2010 Infiniti QX56 4WD”
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