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2011 Infiniti QX56 Review

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SEE ALSO: Infiniti Buyers Guide 1997-2011

2011 Infiniti QX56 - Really is Inspired

Special to The Auto Channel
By Marlon Hanson
Texas Auto Writers Assn

Infiniti’s marketing tagline is “Inspired Performance” and it appears that much more than solely performance is inspired in every new Infiniti model I have driven to date.

A recent trip to Louisville, Ky (Home of The Auto Channel) to be among the first to drive the new 2011 QX SUV model showed that the excellence built into the new “M” and newest “G” models were not flashes in the pan.

The new QX exudes elegance in every aspect from cabin spaciousness to instrumentation to leather and wood interior appointments.

I was certain the new M would be placed among finalists to be voted on by consumers in the Readers Choice contest and now I feel the QX is destined for the same fate.

The final results will be in the hands of buyers and drivers of the vehicles. If preliminary sales orders disclosed by Ben Poore of Infiniti are any indication there will be lots of people voting this year. Early indications are that production projections might need to be increased and Texas allocations broadened based on early intenders.Design elements of new Coupes and Sedans led one journalist to question Poore if any tie-ins with Cirque du Soleil might be anticipated. Poore chuckled and said that this indeed was the case. “There is a definite graceful flow that is evident in every movement Cirque du Soleil makes, and we feel Infiniti exhibits this same dynamic of gracefulness,” he told us.

I’ve always been impressed by interior design, comfort and the level of sophistication of the instrumentation in vehicles. First settling into the QX it was obvious they tailored this new SUV for people exactly like me.

The cockpit was every bit as elaborate as that of our new Cirrus airplane, but much more spacious and, yes, comfortable. Acceleration was just as exhilarating as any take-off. I hit the pedal with gusto as we entered the expressway after leaving our staging point and my passenger said I should have warned him so he could protect his neck from the snap 400 horsepower and 413 lb ft of torque can provide.

Even with such undeniable power gas mileage has been improved over previous models and is respectable in all comparisons with other full-size non-hybrid SUVs (EPA rated at 20 highway and 14 city). Since this vehicle provided literally everything I would be looking for in an SUV my first question was an obvious given the times of uncertain fuel prices and availabilities - would a hybrid be on the immediate horizon.

With the mothership, Nissan Motor Company, a leader in hybrid technology it did not seem too unlogical a question. A new hybrid M is coming within the year, the electric Leaf model now a reality, and other Infiniti EV models are now in development. A hybrid QX will depend on the market.

It is easily possible for Infiniti to build, but current demand for other hybrid SUVs has been so slight there is not a good viable business model for its creation at the present time. Current price trends are not pointing to skyrocketing fuel costs even after the BP disaster in the Gulf.

The fantastic Lane Departure and Blind Spot Intervention System I detailed after driving the M is available on the QX as well. This is the best system I have tested on the market today and I would heartily recommend it as a feature that is bound to save many people from possible accidents.

Knowing the pricing of other luxury SUVs from Japan, Europe and even the United States I would expect the QX to be coming in with a base price at least in the $60s if not the $70s and a loaded tally of someplace in the $80,000 range.

The two-wheel drive model (sufficient for most Texans) logs in at $56,700. There are very few primary option packages one need consider adding and neither bring the cost of the overall vehicle to the base prices of other vehicles in the class of the QX.

A QX Theater Package which includes a couple of 7-inch color monitors, wireless headphones and a 120 volt power outlet runs $2,450.The technology package (the one I consider a must) carries a tab of $2,850. It includes a full-speed range Intelligent Cruise Control system, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention system, Distance Control Assist, Intelligent Brake Assist, Blind Spot Warning (fabulous, in my opinion), Pre-Crash front seatbelts and Adaptive Front lighting system.The most expensive system – interestingly enough – the one I would eliminate first if budget were a factor, is the Deluxe Touring Package. It includes 22-inch 9-spoke forged aluminum-alloy wheels, a hydraulic body motion control system, semi-aniline leather seats, climate-controlled front seats and heated second row outboard seats, heated second row seats, an advanced climate control system and headlight washers.

The entire list of options would bring the QX into the neighborhood of the bare-bones base pricing of luxury competitors in its class so adding them would only add more value to an already value-laden vehicle.

Overall, the 2011 Infiniti QX provides a five-star transportation package for those demanding excellence in a new motor vehicle. There is no doubt that Nissan and Infiniti are on an extended drive to the top of the motoring world.

With sales increasing at a record pace thus far this year, it appears that consumers are wising up to what many journalists have already learned – there’s a new marque to contend with in this millennium!

Marlon Hanson is president of the Texas Automotive Media Association and a past president of the Texas Auto Writers Association. He has been in the media industry since 1970 with the New York Daily News, the Dallas Times Herald, Bumper to Bumper, Avid Golfer, Avid Living Magazine and Focus Daily News. He can be reached at