Definition of infinity: a point in space or time that is or seems infinitely distant. In other words, Infiniti as a company goes beyond its limits. Conceived in 1989 by Nissan as a luxury division, Infiniti challenged the European luxury cars (Lexus and Acura were conceived at around the same time as Infiniti), but ultimately failed due to its lack of prestige and unusual styling which were unmistakeably Japanese. It was not until 2003 that Infiniti became competitive with the arrival of the G35. The G35 sedan and coupe garnered acclaim for its combination of driving excellence, sharp styling, comfort, and affordability. The G35 won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award when it debuted in 2003. As time passed, Infiniti cars became better. This QX56 is one of Infiniti’s competitive products. Originally, it was a rebadged version of the Nissan Pathfinder dubbed QX4, but it morphed into a clone of the Nissan Armada as the company’s status elevated.
If you look at the styling detail by detail, you’ll find that it is a very cluttered design. Compared to the size of the enormous grille, the headlights look miniscule. The front and rear bulges do not correspond to each other. The door handles do not match, as the front is on the doors while the rear is set much higher on the door. The windows are shaped differently.The liftgate protrudes for no apparent reason. The rear lights look diminutive compared to the huge rear liftgate. But if you look at the design as a whole, it meshes well together. This car makes a very convincing luxury impression with the use of chrome and distinctive design details. It is a big car. It is straightforward with just the right amount of tackiness (chrome). When I see the car, the first thing that pops to my mind is a monster, like from Monsters Inc. But this Infiniti is a handsome monster. The interior makes a convincing luxury impression. There are neat upscale touches such as an antique clock. The wood is tasteful and suits the interior well.
The Infiniti QX56 is a beast. But the puzzling thing is that it does not feel like it when you drive it. The steering is very responsive. Fortunately it is not super light or twitchy, but has the right amount of weight. The steering is communicative and precise. I had the audacity to take this on a twisty road, and boy was I surprised. It is very nimble, and body lean is moderate. It is not excessive as you expect a car of this size. You would expect massive understeer and ponderous behavior, but this Infiniti actually handles decently. I actually enjoyed driving this car. Never thought I would say that. However, the ride is a bit restless. It is not too bad overall, but there is constant movement, which is not acceptable for a car of this price. I cannot say for sure if the fault lies with the car’s age and mileage (133k miles) or the car’s design, but the structure is not as rigid as you expect it to be. Hitting rough surfaces elicits quivers from the structure which is alarming. Braking performance is abysmal. The brakes are difficult to modulate, and the car dives dramatically, even under light braking.
I am a sucker when it comes to big displacement engines, and this V8 does not disappoint. At 5.6 liters, this engine is large with 317 horspower on tap, and as a result, fuel economy is poor. The trip computer said average mpg was 13 mpg. But this engine makes up for its dismal fuel economy with its unparallelled mix of smoothness and muscle. The engine note is just pure harmony. It’s hard to explain, but it is distinctively Japanese with a muscular growl. Torque is spread evenly so you never feel like you need more power. Tap the slightly too sharp throttle, and the car will reach speeds quickly. The five speed automatic transmission aids the engine. It shifts briskly. It can be hesitant to kickdown though. Road noise is also a concern, as jarring from harsh road surfaces occurs frequently. The engine noise is remarkably refined, and wind noise is not audible.
This car has captain chairs in the middle row, and three seats in the back. You get a commanding view of the road, and it is easy to get comfortable. In the front, room is plentiful. The second row is roomy as well, but the third row is relatively cramped. The seats are a bit too hard for my taste. Practicality is decent. Access to the third row seats is made easy by the second row seats. Flip a mechanism, and the seats tumble forward for easier access. I did expect the trunk space to be bigger, but it is still commodious, even with the third row seats up. I wish you could manually fold down the third row seats, as it can only be done at the touch of a button. But the seats move slowly. At least the liftgate’s window can be opened separately. First impressions indicate that the interior seems luxurious. Look closely, and hard plastic is abound. The dash is soft touch, but the rest does not scream luxury. It does look good but it does not feel opulent. The controls are easy to use. The navigation system is intuitive, as it is both touchscreen and controlled by buttons. The touchscreen interface is a bit languid to respond at times though. Visibility is adequate. There are blind spots, but it is tolerable.
As a luxury SUV taking on the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator, this Infiniti QX56 is an honorable contender. It has the bling, and the power. Its luxury factor needs finessing. I would gladly choose this over both of them, just for the driving experience and the V8 alone. If it were my choice, I would save money and get the Nissan Armada which is exactly the same as this. It has the same powertrain, the same driving dynamics, and if you look closely, the same looks. But I would not fault an individual for buying this. The feeling you get from driving this SUV cannot be measured. Just like infinity.
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[…] For the review of the first generation of the Infiniti QX56 click here. […]
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It’s so cool you get to experience trucks like this, as with the FX I think the first generation of the QX is more handsome (if not modern) although it still looks pretty huge! I guess the interior is probably more plasticky than more modern vehicles but I’m willing to bet it feels more premium than the Escalade/Yukon of the time 🙂
I actually really liked this SUV. It is a huge SUV but it doesn’t drive like it!
[…] it is bland. It doesn’t offer something the competition doesn’t have. The Nissan Armada/Infiniti QX56 (first gen) are actually fun to drive for a big SUV, the Toyota Sequoia has typical Toyota […]