Nissan's luxury division introduced a full-size sport utility vehicle as a 2004 model, joining the company's crossover FX35 and FX45 SUVs. Manufactured at Nissan's new plant in Canton, Miss., the QX56 was the first Infiniti model built in the U.S. For 2007, a new Pacific Sapphire exterior color is available.
Based on the Nissan Armada, the luxury QX56 holds a similar Endurance 5.6-liter V-8 that generates 320 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 became standard on 2005 models. Minor enhancements for 2006 included the addition of power-folding mirrors that are heated and have power adjustment and integrated turn signals. The third-row seat is split 60/40, and a Bluetooth-based hands-free phone system is standard.
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 are installed.
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. A power sunroof is optional.
Depending on the second-row layout, the QX56 can seat seven or eight. Standard second-row captain's chairs have integrated armrests, and there is a removable second-row center console. A folding bench seat can be substituted for the captain's chairs, and a 60/40-split, 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 a choice of colors, and the steering wheel has wood and aluminum trim. A memory system controls the adjustable 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 optional.
Under the Hood
The QX56's 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 has been retuned and now makes 320 hp, 5 more than last year's, and 393 pounds-feet of torque, up from 390. The engine drives a five-speed automatic transmission that incorporates a Tow/Haul mode. The QX56 can be equipped with rear-wheel drive or full-time 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 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.