2008 Infiniti QX56 AWD Review


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2008 Infiniti Q56

THE AUTO PAGE
By John Heilig

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: Infiniti QX56 AWD
Engine: 5.6-liter V8
Horsepower/Torque: 320 hp @ 5200 rpm/393 lb.-ft. @ 3400 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 123.2 in.
Length x Width x Height: 206.9 x 79.5 x 77.8 in.
Tires: 265/60R20
Cargo volume: 61.2 cu. ft.
Economy: 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway/21.9 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 28.0 gal.
Price: $58,810 (includes $815 destination charge and $2,745 in options)

The Bottom LineThe QX56 is a large vehicle with tremendous carrying capacity and very good highway fuel economy. Surprisingly, it’s also a great drive, with comfort, power, decent handling and a great road presence.

Billed as “Luxury on a grand scale,” the Infiniti QX56 fits the description. It is luxurious, with leather seats, all the power accessories you’d ever want, the iconic Infiniti analog clock in the center of the dash, and lots of electronic goodies.

It’s also grand, if you define grand as large. The QX56 fits in nicely with the large Chevrolet Tahoe or Ford Expedition. It is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 engine that pumps out 320 horsepower. You might not think that’s a lot of power for a vehicle that weighs more than two tons, but it’s fine, thank you. We had no problems accelerating up to Interstate speeds or maintaining ambient speeds.

What impressed me in the course of this test, that admittedly was conducted primarily on Interstates, was the fuel economy, a healthy 21.9 mpg, higher than the EPA estimates for highway mileage. Granted, we used cruise control whenever possible and kept our speeds within five mph of the speed limit most of the time, but I thought this was outstanding.

The QX56 was a Carolina car. We used it to travel to North Carolina to begin the process of cleaning out my sister’s house prior to resale. While we used her midsize sedan down there, the QX56 was available for loading and hauling some furniture that had to be moved northward, as well as suitcases full of photos and clothes. The QX56 proved to be an excellent stower and carrier, ad well as a comfortable driver.

Besides the fuel economy, we felt the seats were comfortable and offered decent side support. After all, the QX56 is not a sports car in any stretch of the imagination, but we were looking for comfort on an 11-hour drive. The seats were heated as well, which gave comfort to my aching back.

Also handy for a long trip were the two console-mounted cupholders as well as two inserts in the door pockets that held water bottles. My wife and I drink a lot on trips, which also requires many pit/rest stops.

The second row seats offer excellent leg and head room, which is to be expected from a large SUV. There is third-row seating that also offers pretty decent legroom. The third row seat backs fold flat using a cargo area-mounted switch to increase carrying capacity. The second row seat backs also fold flat, creating a van-like cargo area. With the second row seat backs up, cargo volume is 61.2 cubic feet. With them folded, it jumps to a cavernous 97.1 cubic feet. I didn’t measure it to see if a 4X8 sheet of plywood would fit, but I’m fairly certain it would. We carried a couple of dressers.

Even with substantial cargo, the independent self-leveling rear suspension kept the attitude of the QX56 constant. It also gave us a decent ride when the roads developed a couple of bends (we had to find a Starbucks SOME time). Four wheel disc brakes stopped us quickly and confidently.

The QX56 rides on huge 20-inch wheels and tires, which aid in the ride comfort.

Among the comfort and convenience features were a heated steering wheel (it was cold on many mornings), XM Satellite radio with an excellent readout in the navigation system screen, a navigation system that directed us to a location on a dirt road in Virginia on the way down, a Bose premium audio system, steering wheel mounted cruise and audio controls, four 12-volt power outlets, and an Infiniti intelligent “key” that stayed in my pocket all the time.

Key to safety on a long trip is intelligent cruise control that maintains a set distance between the QX56 and the vehicle in front, no matter how slow that vehicle may be traveling. I’m always somewhat confused when ICC clicks in, because the vehicle slows for no reason, apparently, until I realize it’s smarter than I am. It’s worth the $800 for the option.

I would prefer to driver a smaller, sportier sedan or coupe on a long trip. However, the purpose behind this trip precluded a small car and almost forced us to go big SUV or van. The Infiniti QX56 was perfect for the job at hand.

2008 The Auto Page Syndicate

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