Test Drive: 2011 Infiniti QX56

?Infiniti’s 2011 QX56: All-new, Dramatic, Forceful and Luxurious?

Infiniti, Nissan?s luxury division, first revealed it?s all-new for 2011, QX full size SUV at New York?s prestigious 2010 International Auto Show. It represents the second-generation for the QX, which was designed to provide what Infiniti refers to as a genuine five-star travel experience.

This latest iteration QX delivers 25 percent more horsepower, while at the same time improving the fuel economy by more than 10 percent ? and? it does so, amazingly with no price increase over the 2010 QX models.

The new QX56 displays a dramatic and dynamic presence, with styling cues that relate strongly to, and identify with the rest of the Infiniti vehicle lineup?s DNA. To be sure, it is no longer simply a dressed up Nissan Armada, but rather a sophisticated, superbly luxurious full size SUV, that delivers state-of-the-art technologies and features, ensuring the ultimate in heightened levels of luxury travel. It offers more than Business Class accommodations, it is truly First Class, fully capable of transporting up to eight passengers and their gear in comfort. The QX is the way that Infiniti defines immersive luxury, with standards that provoke elevated emotion.

The bold presence of the QX56 begins up front with its prominent double-arch grille, flanked by low positioned, swept-back headlamps and domed, wave-like hood. The profile is unique, with the blacked out ?B? and ?C? pillars combining with the reverse ?kink? bright window surround emphasizing the generous greenhouse area. The rear view finishes with Infiniti?s dynamic rear glass, LED taillights, double-arch license plate housing and concealed tow hitch. Decorative side vents appear between the hood line and fender arch, just ahead of the front door?s leading edge. The driver?s side vent is functional, providing engine air intake. Other functional design elements include the front and rear spoilers that enable zero lift, aiding in improved handling stability and the specially shaped exterior mirrors that reduce wind noise. The built-in running boards and low roof rails, along with the standard 20-inch wheels and tires or optional 22-inch rolling stock that substantially fills the wheel wells all add to the athleticism of the QX.

The inspired performance of the 2011 Infiniti QX is provided courtesy of a new 5.6-liter, DOHC, 32-valve V8 engine with VVEL and Direct Injection Gasoline that is shared with the new Inifiniti M series, but tuned specifically for the QX. As already stated, the new engine produces 25 percent more power (plus 80- hp) for?400 at 5,800 rpm, along with 413 pound feet of torque at 4,000 rpm (plus 20 pound feet). Despite the increase in horsepower and torque, fuel economy is 14 percent more efficient, with city driving yielding an additional 2 mpg at 14, while highway travel registers 20 mpg? (up 2 mpg for 2WD models and up 3 mpg in 4WD models).

The new engine couples to a new 7-speed automatic transmission with driver Adaptive Shift Control, a manual shift mode and Downshift Rev matching. The 4WD system is Infiniti?s All-Mode 4WD, which in its automatic mode is rear-drive biased and continually adjusts power between front and rear wheels, delivering up to 100 percent in the rear and a maximum of 50 percent motive force up front. 4 High locks the center differential at 50:50 and is operational up to 60 mph. 4 Low locks the center diff in low range.

Hill Start Assist prevents roll back on an incline for up to 2.5 seconds, while Snow Mode modulates the throttle for smooth starts under slippery conditions, Tow Mode automatically tailors gear changes to maximize engine torque when towing. A Tire Pressure inflation indicator activates the horn and flashes hazard signals when correct tire inflation has been reached. The available Hydraulic Body Motion Control System further reduces body lean during turning or cornering, as well as helping to minimize vehicle bouncing on rough road surfaces.

More inspired technology includes: the Around View Monitor with a 360-degree view around the QX56, making parking and towing exercises easier; Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention systems; Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning; Intelligent Cruise Control with added Full-Speed Range; Distance Control Assist; and Blind Spot Warning System.

Infiniti?s Hard Drive Navigation System includes: an 8.0-inch color touch-screen display; XM NavTraffic? and NavWeather?; Zagat Survey? Restaurant Guide.

The 2011 Infiniti QX56 2WD model is expected to account for 40 percent of QX sales and starts at $56,700. 4WD QX56 models begin at $59,800 and represent the remaining 60 percent of projected sales. Add $865 for Destination and Handling charges. Available options include: a Theater Package ($2,450) with dual 7-inch color monitors mounted in the first row seat backs with wireless?headphones and 120V power outlet; a Split Bench Seat Package for the second row with 60/40 split folding (no charge); a Deluxe Touring Package ($5,800) with?22-inch, 9-spoke forged aluminum-alloy wheels, Hydraulic Body Motion Control System, Semi-analine leather seats, climate-controlled front seats and heated second row outboard seats, heated second row seats, Advanced Climate Control System and 4WD headlight washers; roof rails with cross bars ($320.); illuminated SILL KICK PLATES ($390.); the Technology Package ($2,850) with Intelligent Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Distance Control Assist, Intelligent Brake Assist, Blind Spot Warning, Front Pre-Crash seatbelts and Adaptive Front Lighting System.

My test 2011 Infiiniti QX56 was a 4WD model that was loaded with virtually all of the available options. The base sticker read $59,800 while the addition of optional fare elevated the final tally to $72,475. My test vehicle sported an exterior finished in Dark Currant metallic, with the interior executed in Graphite leather with polished wood trim accents on the steering wheel, center console and doors.

SUMMARY: The 2011 Infiniti QX56 possesses a distinctively elegant look ? especially for a vehicle of its mass. The lines are fluid and flow smoothly. Yes, it?s big and yes, it?s an SUV, a class that?s disdained by many, but it serves a definitive purpose ? to transport as many as eight occupants from point ?A? to point ?B? in sumptuous luxury and security.

The interior is not unlike that of an executive jet. The acceleration isn?t as rapid as a personal jet, but it certainly more than fills the bill, with sedan-like handling and stability. The QX56 stays flat under spirited maneuvering conditions on challenging roadways. The Premium Bose Sound System fills the cabin with superlative audio quality for those who are not appreciative of the pleasurable mechanical sounds served up by the vehicle itself.

The list of standard features and equipment seems never ending, and when one throws in the full complement of available bells and whistles, the content of this second generation QX56 borders on unbelievable. At the rate that Infiniti is progressing, it may not be long before the art of driving could all but disappear. On the plus side, much of the QX56?s technology may be switched off to enhance and restore the sheer pleasure of driving.

In the final analysis, even for those who are not fans of full size SUVs, the QX56 makes a sound case for the existence of such a vehicle and for those who wish to travel in opulence.

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