Nissan's luxury division now offers a full-size sport utility vehicle. The QX56 went on sale as a 2004 model, joining the company's crossover FX35 and FX45 models, which blend the attributes of a performance wagon and SUV. Manufactured at Nissan's new plant in Canton, Miss., it was the first Infiniti model to be built in the United States.
Based on the Nissan Pathfinder Armada that debuted for 2004, the luxury QX56 holds a similar Endurance 5.6-liter V-8 that generates 315 horsepower. The independent rear suspension incorporates load leveling. Rear- and four-wheel-drive versions are available. A rear-drive QX56 can tow up to 9,000 pounds.
A RearView monitor is standard on 2005 models, and front occupants get active head restraints.
Wraparound rectangular housings that contain xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights flank a grille with bright horizontal bars. LED taillights are installed. Seven-spoke 18-inch chrome wheels hold P265/70R18 tires.
Built on a fully boxed frame, the QX56 has a relatively long 123.2-inch wheelbase but measures a more moderate 206.9 inches long overall. Running boards, a roof rack, powered flip-out rear quarter windows and a powered rear liftgate are standard. Four-wheel-drive models have skid plates.
Depending on the second-row layout, either seven or eight occupants can fit inside the QX56. Standard second-row captain's chairs have integrated armrests, and a removable second-row center console is installed. A folding bench seat can be substituted for the captain's chairs, and a flat-folding bench seat goes into the third row. First- and second-row seats are heated.
Sojourner leather-appointed upholstery and a navigation system are standard. Genuine wood trim comes in Dark Macore or Blonde Apaya, and the steering wheel has wood and aluminum trim. A memory system controls the pedals, mirrors and driver's seat position. The driver operates a gated shift lever.
The 10-speaker Bose audio system includes a six-CD changer, and the navigation system uses a 7-inch screen. Two wireless headphones are included with the optional DVD Family Entertainment System, which goes into the full-length overhead console. Intelligent Cruise Control is also optional.
Under the Hood
The QX56's 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 produces 315 hp and 390 pounds-feet of torque and drives a five-speed-automatic transmission that incorporates a Tow/Haul mode. The QX56 can be equipped with rear- or four-wheel drive. Up to 50 percent of available torque can be sent to the front wheels, and the four-wheel-drive system includes a Low range.
Side curtain-type airbags offer side-impact and rollover protection for occupants in all three rows of seats. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags, all-disc antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, the Vehicle Dynamic Control electronic stability system and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard.
You get plenty of power and a reasonably good ride from Infiniti's mammoth SUV, but the QX56 is unwieldy for in-town driving. Truck sounds and sensations are evident, and getting in requires a high step up. Auxiliary gauges are difficult to read, and the navigation system's screen is out of the driver's view on a wide dashboard. A thick B-pillar blocks over-left-shoulder visibility.
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