Americans must have a recessive bad-taste gene that comes into play when their annual incomes exceed $200,000. How else to explain why the nouveaux riches who participated in Infiniti's consumer clinics "absolutely love" the QX56's huge cartoon grille and, according to senior marketing manager Ed Baldwin, "really love" the way the windows in the front and rear doors sweep rearward, only to encounter the fixed glass beyond the C-pillar that appears to be a stylistic afterthought. The QX56 and the Nissan Titan-derived Pathfinder Armada on which it is based are as unsightly and ill proportioned as the McMansions in which many members of Infiniti's target audience live.
But, like those outsize dwellings, the QX56 is a pretty nice place once you're inside. The roomy, lavishly equipped cabin's leather is softer and richer than the Armada's, the wood trim truly is from a tree, and real aluminum accents the instrument panel. Compared with its Nissan stablemate, the QX56's extra insulation effectively quells NVH. The big Q seats seven with standard second-row captain's chairs or eight if the optional, no-cost bench seat is selected. Entry to the third row is easy.
The standard 5.6-liter V-8's output targets the QX56's most obvious competitors, the Cadillac Escalade and the Lincoln Navigator. An all-wheel-drive QX is hardly light, but it feels sprightly compared with the Navigator, because it weighs several hundred pounds less. Like the Armada and the Navigator, the QX has excellent on-center steering feel, which cannot be said of the Escalade. Ride comfort is very good.
The chrome-wheeled, Mississippi-built QX56 hits dealershipsand upscale subdivisionsin March. The QX is a nice alternative to the ubiquitous offerings from Lincoln and Cadillac. But if you want a stylish Infiniti SUV, look no further than the FX35/45.
Price: $50,000 (est., awd)
Engine: 32V 5.6L DOHC V8; 315 hp; 390 lb-ft