The Infiniti QX56 is so much larger and heavier than any other Infiniti that some Infiniti dealers have had to modify their service bays to accomodate the 5,500 pound bohemoth. The Infiniti QX56 AWD is based on the Nissan Armada platform and has a modified version of the Armada's V-8 5.6 liter engine, the fourth model to tout the V-8 engine. Infiniti won't give out 0-60 acceleration rates, but my colleague Larry Weitzman does his own 0-60 on every vehicle he drives and he got around 8 in the mountains and about 7.5 on flat land.
Offered in rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations the QX56 blends responsive acceleration with surprisingly agile handling. In case you are concerned about this being Infiniti's first forage into the AWD market, don't be. This is Infiniti's third vehicle in their line-up that offers all-wheel drive, the other two being the FX45 crossover SUV and the newly introduced 2004 G35 sport sedan AWD.
The new 2004 Infiniti QX56, which will be the first Infiniti model assembled in Canton, Mississippi, North America, is designed to provide luxury on a grand scale, with eight-passenger 40/20/40 2nd row seating (seven-passenger with 2nd row captains chairs), progressive styling, advanced technology and exceptional on-road performance. And luxury it was - lots of room for passengers and cargo, the QX56 boasts the largest legroom in 2nd row of any luxury SUV. Even claustrophobic little me was comfortable in the 3rd row.
The QX56's Endurance V8 engine is assembled at Nissan's advanced engine facility in Decherd, Tennessee. Nearly 90 percent of the engine's impressive torque is available below 2,500 rpm - where it's needed for towing that boat on the weekends.
Standout elements include standard 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with tow/haul modes for enhanced performance and fuel efficiency, navigation system, 10-speaker Bose audio system, adjustable pedals, and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Active Brake Limited-Slip (ABLS). Key options include DVD system with wireless headphones, laser-based Intelligent Cruise Control, and RearView Monitor system. Most impressive is that the QX56 had seventy pounds more sound deadening than the Armada. According to Larry Dominique, Product Specialist for Nissan/Infiniti trucks/SUVs, the Lexus GX470 is the closest competitor in sound quietness. That says a lot, since Lexus is known for its quiet drive.
The 2004 Infiniti QX56 offers an extensive list of standard safety features, including standard supplemental curtain air bags for side-impact and rollover to all three rows, side-impact supplemental air bags (front seat-mounted) and an Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) with dual-stage front supplemental air bags with seat belt sensors and a front passenger occupant classification sensor. Since seconds matter in car accidents, Nissan has the pretensioner on the front seat to help with the sensing in case of airbag deployment.
The QX56 design also includes Zone Body construction with front and rear crushable zones, 3-point front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters. For those with children there is a 3-point seat belts for all rear seat occupants (including center position) and LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat anchor system.
We got back from our drive through Palm Springs, up to Joshua Tree National Park (where I didn't see a single Joshua tree), back to pool side. I'm starting to lie down and the woman next to me asks if we're in some type of convention. I explain that were journalists test driving the not-yet-on-sale 2004 Infiniti QX56 that is just 20 feet away from her. I decide to put Infiniti's marketing skills to the test. Earlier in the day their marketing people had said that this vehicle would appeal to people with an income of $350,000, married with high school age children and this would be their third vehicle. I asked my "I live in Tahoe, but need my sun fix " female friend if she would like to see the inside of the SUV. This woman had four children, ages 9 months (not with her) to 14 years old, was married and was a stay at home mom. The things that impressed her the most was the amount of room in the 2nd row and the button in the back that allowed the back door to go down electronically. She has a Toyota Sequoia and said that the third row back angle was adjustable, which is not so in the QX56, something I would have liked to have seen. She snuck away with a brochure and I'm awaiting my commission check.
Vehicles today are so well made, and Nissan/Infiniti is on such a roll that one feels petty pointing out small things, but there were a couple of annoying items. The HVAC (vents and air conditioning) just didn't work. We even had an Infiniti guy show us how to work it and he couldn't get it to work. Since we were driving a pre-production vehicle it will probably work by the time you get it. Along the same lines are the middle vents - you can't shut them and force the air to go on the side vents. Women have a love/hate relationship with too hot or too cold air, whether it is blowing or not. We need our vents to do anything we want them to. Trust me. Larry Dominique, Product Specialist for all of Nissan told us that the vents were the same that were used on the Titan and Armada. Since Infiniti is producing a modest 15,000 units of the QX56 they are smartly borrowing some extra parts from different vehicles. Larry also happened to tell me that just to put the two pieces of aluminum on the interior of the steering wheel (to change the look) costs $500,000 for 15,000 units. This is obviously a Venus/Mars thing, cause I would have gone for shutting the vents.
Expect a change, because the QX56 will be successful.
Cadillac Escalade, Lexus GX470, Lincoln Navigator.