2012 Infiniti QX56 Review

2012 Infiniti QX56 - It's bigger than big.

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Big doesn't even begin to describe how large the 2012 Infiniti QX56 is.
It's bigger than big. It's fill the entire lane on the highway big, take
up the whole parking space in a multi-level parking garage big and fill
the entire width of  narrow one-way Chicago streets big.

Which is why it's so surprising that it drives "small."

For the sheer size of the QX56, I was constantly amazed at how fast and
nimble it was on the highway. And, when it came time to parallel park,
as long as I could find a large enough space, the large side mirrors and
around-view monitor helped me slide perfectly into the spot every time.

Now, that's not to say, I didn't have to position -- and reposition --
the QX56 during my test week. From tight turns in parking garages to
getting in and out of my narrow condo parking spot, I had to do a 3- (or
6-) point turn every time. But I fit every time.

Because this vehicle is both tall and long, it should come as no
surprise that there are number of helpful features that make driving
such a large vehicle so much easier. The standard running boards helped
me get in and out of the QX56 without difficulty -- even while wearing a
skirt -- and the blind spot warning system included in the Technology
Package ($3,000) called my attention to the littler cars on the road
when changing lanes.

My favorite feature  was the standard around-view monitor. When in
reverse, it gives you a bird's-eye view of the vehicle, so you can see
what's in front and back, as well as what's on both sides of the vehicle
-- particularly helpful when parallel parking.

During the test week, I made a bit of a joke about the size of the large
white QX56 test vehicle. I took a picture and posted it on Facebook and
Twitter and asked my followers for any nicknames that came to mind.
Suggestions ranged from Beluga to Moby Dick. My favorite: Beauty and the
Beast. Of course, that's assuming I wasn't the Beast.

The whale references, while funny, weren't quite accurate because of the
agility and power encompassed by this 8-passenger behemoth. The QX56 is
powered by an amazing 5.6 liter V-8 engine that delivers 400 horsepower
and 413 pound-feet of torque. Whether I was pushing to pass on the
highway, or taking off from a stoplight, this engine mated to a 7-speed
automatic transmission was a thing of beauty. Power was smooth and
seamless, and the engine barely seemed to register that it was lugging
around a 5,595-pound vehicle (2WD -- 4WD curb weight is 5,855). It was
quiet, calm and utterly magnificent.

I have to admit I don't love the exterior styling of the QX56. And, in
fact,  it is likely the bulbous front end that brought about the
multiple whale references from my social media followers and passengers
during the test week. While the swoopy hoodlines and mouthy grille work
on a car like the G37, they somehow seem a bit overdone on the full-size
SUV.

The interior, however, is a completely different story. Infiniti always
does a a phenomenal job here, from fit-and-finish to overall comfort.
And the QX56 falls in line nicely here -- except that it's maybe more
comfortable and more attractive because there is more space to complete
the picture. On the smaller Infiniti vehicles the center stack with all
its buttons and dials can be a bit overwhelming, but on the QX56, it
works.

The large front seats are enveloping, and the 2-way power adjusting
lumbar support is a particular fave. Even though this winter was
particularly mild, I still fully appreciated the standard heated front
seats and heated stearing wheel. As a part of the Theatre Package
($2,950), the outboard second-row seats were also heated. A fact that my
dad, who was visiting from Florida, fully appreciated.

One of the things that I really like about the QX56 is that it made my
life a little easier with a plethora of standard tech features.
Navigation, intelligent key, push-button start, Bluetooth, back-up
camera and sensors, rain sensing winshield wipers and voice recognition
allow the driver to focus more on driving and less on all the extra
things that now come with driving.

I liked that I could use the Pandora app on my phone to stream the Ke$ha
channel through the QX56's 13-speaker premium Bose audio sound system. I
liked that I could set the navigation with voice commands that actually
worked while I was driving. And I liked that I could get into the car
and start it without having to dig through my purse for the keys. Of
course, that also meant, I had to remember to give the valet the keys
when I was parking at a hotel or restaurant. Which (cough) didn't always
happen.

The great thing about the size of the QX56 is that every row is
functional for a wide-range of passengers. Even the third row could fit
an average sized adult male in relative comfort. Getting back to the
third row does require some flexibility, though, and much as you might
like to, you're probably not going to be able to put grandma back there.

There is also a ton of cargo volume, even if you have all rows up.
Behind the third row, there is 16.6 cubic-feet of cargo volume, and it
only goes up from there. With the third row down, you're looking at 49.6
cubic-feet, and if you take the second row down, too, you've got 95.1
cubic-feet.

One thing that slightly annoyed me about the QX56 was the rear folding
third-row seats. I really wanted a one-touch up/down power button. While
the button was power, you had to stand there and depress the button for
the entire up or down operation. I did talk to someone from Infiniti
about this as I expressed my frustration, and apparently it's a safety
issue. With a one-touch, there's always a chance a child could get
caught in the seat as it's folding. In other words: Laywers strike
again.

At a base level, the 4WD QX56 is chockfull of more features than you'll
likely ever use. But the test vehicle included even more optional
features, which added things such as dual 7-inch color monitors for the
second row (Theatre Package, $2,950), intelligent cruise control and
lane departure prevention (Technology Package, $3,000), Bose cabin
surround sound and climate-controlled front seats (Deluxe Touring
Package, $4,100), and 22-inch wheels (Tire & Wheel Package, $2,300).

With all this good stuff, however, comes a hefty price. Base price for
the QX56 with 4WD is $62,790. But when you add on the bevy of pricey
options, the as-tested price range in at $75,340. Ouch.

The other price you'll pay is at the pump. The EPA estimates that the
QX56 will average 14 mpg in the city, and 20 mpg on the highway. With a
mix of city and highway driving during my test period, I tended toward
the lower end of the scale and had to fuel up once during the 1-week
test.

Overall, I'm hard pressed to find something I didn't like about the
QX56. If you're looking for a full-size luxury SUV that seats up to 8
passengers, you can't go too far wrong here. It has everything you could
want and more. Except for the whalelike styling that is.





Jill Ciminillo

Jill has been writing about cars for more than 15 years, representing the female point of view amongst her predominantly male colleagues. And since something like 80 percent of all car-buying decisions are either made by or influenced by women, that's nothing to sneeze at. Formerly the online automotive editor for the Chicago Sun-Times and the print auto editor for Pioneer Press Newspapers, this 5th percentile (aka petite) female tells it like it is from the fun to the functional. Jill recently served as the first female president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and currently sits on its Board of Directors as President Emeritus. In her 9-to-5 job, Jill is the automotive editor for Sinclair Broadcast Group.