2006 QX56 New Car Test Drive
Okay, there's a chance the Infiniti QX56 will not go down in history as the best-looking vehicle from the Big Sport Utility Era. It looks almost as awkward as its name sounds, but its assets are considerable when weighed against those of the competition.
The QX56 comes with one of the most powerful V8s in the class. It's an excellent choice among full-size SUVs for towing a heavy trailer while hauling seven passengers in luxurious comfort. And it offers serious off-road capability, an area where Nissan has a lot of experience. The QX56 is based on the full-size Nissan Titan pickup and Armada SUV.
The Infiniti QX56 offers seating for seven or eight and is rated to tow 8,900-9,000 pounds. Nissan's 5.6-liter 32-valve engine generates more torque than the V8s in the 2006 Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. The Lexus LX470 and Toyota Sequoia can't compete with the Infiniti's towing capability.
Out on the highway, the QX56 is smooth and quiet, benefiting from a four-wheel independent suspension and a smooth five-speed automatic. It feels responsive and sure-footed on winding roads. Yet it's capable off road; its four-wheel drive-system features a low range, and skid plates are available. It comes standard with latest in electronic stability control, traction control and ABS technology, all of which can help you maintain control in emergency handling situations, and the available all-wheel-drive system further improves handling stability in slippery conditions.
The QX56 is as luxurious as the best of them. Its opulent cabin is lathered in leather and stuffed with technology. It comes standard with a navigation system, an optional feature on many vehicles.
The QX56 gets more standard equipment for 2006, including power folding outside mirrors, a 60/40 split third row seat, a sound system with MP3 capability, and a Bluetooth hands-free phone system.
Infiniti QX56 comes as one fully loaded model. You need only choose between two-wheel drive ($49,950) and four-wheel drive ($52,550). The 5.6-liter V8 is rated at a 315 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque, and the transmission is a five-speed automatic. The four-wheel-drive system includes a low range.
Leather-trimmed upholstery and the navigation system are standard. Also standard: xenon high-intensity discharge headlights, a power liftgate, a park-assist system, and a rearview video camera. Standard wheels are 18-inch chromium aluminum alloy, with 20-inch wheels optional. The QX56 comes with a full-size spare tire.
Options include a middle split bench seat in place of the standard two captain's chairs (no charge), a DVD-based entertainment system ($1,600), a power sunroof ($1,200), intelligent cruise control ($800), Sirius or XM satellite radio ($350), and painted fender splash guards ($112). Skid plates protecting the transfer case, oil pan and fuel tank on the four-wheel-drive edition are an available option for serious off-road travel.
Safety features include the latest generation front airbags that deploy at different rates depending on crash severity and occupant seatbelt use. Side-impact airbags are provided for torso protection for the front-seat passengers. Full-cabin curtain airbags come standard for improved head protection for passengers in all three rows in the event of a side impact or rollover. A rearview video system comes standard: When the transmission is in reverse, this system displays on the navigation screen the view from a camera mounted above the rear license plate; it can help the driver see whether an object or child is behind the vehicle. All QX56 models have been upgraded to include active head restraints for the front passenger position. Be sure to wear your seatbelts as they form your first line of defense in a crash.
The QX56 may be the best tool this side of an 18-wheeler for clearing slower traffic out of the left lane. Spying one in a rearview mirror closing rapidly will inspire most drivers to get out of the way. It's not any one aspect but the combination.
The frontal view may not be its most flattering angle, but it does embody massiveness. Perhaps it's the waterfall grille visually surrounded by large expanses of metal. Or the high headlights. Or the huge black intake vent embedded in the bumper above the grille.
The side view broadcasts a similar message. On most vehicles, the popular practice among stylists is to wrap ever thinner tires around ever bigger wheels, with an eye to communicating sportiness. However, in this class, where mass and perceived hauling capability is the measure, tires that look like they belong on a truck are preferred, at least in our view. The QX56 delivers on this with 70-series tires on 18-inch wheels.
Squared off, clearly defined, barrel-like fender blisters add heft to the quarter panels. The arched roof over the passenger compartment pushes the D-pillar rearward, shrinking and reshaping the rear quarter windows in conflict with the somewhat organic outline of the front and rear door windows. Nissan's signature rear door handle is placed awkwardly on the C-pillar. The running boards seem more cosmetic than functional, but manage to pull bodywork down below the midline of the wheels, again adding to the impression of mass. As with the Nissan Armada, it looks almost like a cartoon caricature from the rear three-quarter view. The Armada makes up for this with an attractive front end.
From the rear, the QX56 succeeds in presenting a strong stance. Big tires widely spaced beneath a body that starts out broad at the lower reaches and then gradually tapers in toward the top suggests solidity and road-hugging stability. The QX56 comes with LED taillights and brake lights that light up quicker and brighter than traditional bulbs.