Third Party Review: Infiniti QX56 is a Quiet, Stylish Behemoth

By Jason H Harper

I was once mock-charged by an elephant while on safari in South Africa. It was astonishing to see this massive, ponderous creature suddenly burst into motion, moving far faster than I could possibly flee on foot.

That scene ran through my head every time I slapped down the gas pedal on the 2012-model Infiniti QX56. A full-size SUV of such impressive girth you could swap the side mirrors for big floppy ears and call it Dumbo.

I certainly wasn’t expecting the massive surge of smooth power it delivers from a standstill. This elephant charges thanks to its 5.6-liter V-8 heart, which pumps out 413 pound- feet of torque and 400 horsepower. In tests by Edmunds Inside Line, it reached 60 mph in 6.5 seconds — almost as quick as a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro with a V-6.

I started my week with the QX with rather low expectations. I feel the same way about full-size SUVs as I do about McMansions: Who are you trying to impress with that big thing?

At 17.3 feet long, 6.3 feet high and 6.6 feet wide, the QX takes up a hunk of roadside real estate. It weighs 5,800-plus pounds and gets a cringe-inducing 14 miles per gallon around town, 20 on the highway.

Yet it drives extremely well, is exceptionally quiet and is generally an agreeable place to while away time when you’re stuck in traffic — ignoring the fact that it’s this kind of oversized vehicle which contributes more than most to the congestion.

The designers at Infiniti, the luxury arm of Nissan Motor Co, didn’t go for the aggressive air of the Dodge Durango or the bling-bling of the Cadillac Escalade. Rather the QX is quirky, with an expression that begs to be anthropomorphised by Pixar for the next “Cars” flick. The rear has droopy angles, the side mirrors are small. Threatening it isn’t.

The first QX56 was released as a 2004 model and was based on Nissan’s Armada SUV. The truck underwent a full redesign for the 2011 model and it is now, unmistakably, a luxury vehicle.

The four-wheel-drive starts at $62,790. As tested, mine came to more than $75,000, courtesy of various packages like the “deluxe touring” and “theater,” which scores you two video screens in seat backs.

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