Road Test: 2012 Infiniti QX56

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I had only been driving the Infiniti QX56 for about five minutes when I began to feel like Alexander the Great, sitting astride one of his massive elephants as he forged a new empire across the continents. I had size, I had power and I had agility. I could rule the world. Or at least my lane of traffic.

2012 Infiniti QX56

It’s important to point out that I’m no stranger to big vehicles. I’ve owned three Chevy Suburbans and a Toyota Sequoia. But while they were all big, they just didn’t seem as impressive and all-conquering as the QX56. This is not a vehicle that pretends to be a crossover. It does not pretend to leave a tiny environmental footprint. This is a vehicle for someone who wants lots of room and lots of power and isn’t afraid to say it out loud.

This massive SUV has three rows of seats with room for eight (although you can get a seven seat option) and a little luggage room left in the back. The last row is a little small, but I’ve ridden in worse back seats. It’s 5.6 liter, 400 hp engine and seven speed transmission allows it to get up to speed quickly and always seems to have a little more acceleration no matter what your speed. All wheel drive means you’re also ready for any road condition. Of course this doesn’t come without a penalty. The official mileage is 20 on the highway and 14 in town. On a weekend trip to Disneyland the best we could muster was 17 mpg while smoothly blasting along at comfortable 75 mph. But then, if you’re paying more than $62,000 (the base price, my test model topped $75,000), what’s a little more for an extra tank of gas or two? Oh yeah, and don’t forget to put in the recommended premium.

Infiniti QX56 Cockpit

The QX56 has plenty of gadgetry, but doesn’t overwhelm the driver with techno toys. It was the first time I’d driven a car with intelligent cruise control, and I found it did the job well. I’d set the speed and drive along. If we came a little too close to a car up ahead (the size of the zone was adjustable), the car began to slow. Yes, it does make the driver a little less relevant, but for some folks I can see it as a necessary safety feature. My favorite toy was the button that allowed the middle seat nearest the door to automatically flip forward. Heaven forbid that Alexander the Great should have to move the seat himself to allow someone to climb into the back row.

Check out those engine vents!

This is not a particularly attractive vehicle. Of course, Alexander’s elephants weren’t beauty queens. The QX56 has a grill that appears to say, “I can eat anything on the road!” It has some odd Roadmaster-style vents on each front fender. One of them actually pipes cool air into the engine, but they come across as blingy.

Interestingly, I found myself wandering lanes more than a few times. I thought it was just me until I read another review that mentioned the same thing. Of course, all I would have to do is activate the Infiniti lane assistance and I cold bring that to an end. Or, I could just stop my Alexander the Great daydreaming (what land shall I conquer next?) and actually pay attention to my driving.

I was a little surprised to discover that JD Power and Associates only gave the QX56 a 6 out of 10 for its reliability rating. The company bases that on three years of past data. Realizing the QX56 was updated last year I’ll hope that the reliability improves. The QX56 does get Infiniti’s four-year/60,000 basic warranty with a six-year/70,000 powertrain warranty.

The QX56 isn’t for everyone. You’ll stand out as a little bold and ostentatious. But just like Alexander the Great, you’ll have all your desires (at least the automotive ones) fulfilled while traveling with a sense of power.

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