The Infiniti QX56, now in its third year of this generation, is big, wide, and round. It rides among the seven-seat luxury SUVs with big towing capacities: Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Lexus LX 570, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, Audi Q7, Volkswagen Toureg, and Range Rover.
Infiniti QX comes with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive with a five-mode system. The QX56 uses a powerful 5.6-liter, 32-valve, double overhead-cam V8 engine with direct fuel injection and variable valve timing and lift, making 400 horsepower and a big 413 foot-pounds of torque. The 7-speed double overdrive transmission enables good acceleration for the 5600-pound vehicle, and delivers 17 mpg fuel mileage at easy freeway speed, considerably less around town or over 70 mph. The transmission has adaptive shifting, matching a driver's style, and a manual mode that provides a sports car's downshift blip, something you don't find on every giant SUV.
The all-wheel-drive QX56 has a five-mode dial on the center console with automatic, four-wheel-drive high, four-wheel-drive low, low lock, tow mode and snow mode. The auto mode moves engine torque between the front and rear axles, from 0 front/100 rear to 50/50.
If the QX56 were to be described in a word, it would be big. The QX56 seats seven with second-row captain's chairs, or eight with a three-seat bench in the second row. Between the captain's chairs there's a gigantic console with two storage bins and two cupholders.
The 60/40 third row seat folds flat, with a power button located in the cargo space. Back in the third row there's good headroom and relatively good legroom, and the seats recline 20 degrees. There's 16.6 cubic feet of space with the third row up, an outer-space-like 95.1 cubic feet with both rows down.
The QX56 ride is firm but comfortable, with solid handling assisted by sophisticated electronics. It felt secure on icy highways.
The growling V8 is a satisfying engine, with 413 foot-pounds of torque at 4000 rpm. At lower rpm there's strong torque too. But it takes a lot of premium fuel for the engine to push the three-ton SUV down the highway. The QX56 is EPA-rated at 14/20 mpg City/Highway. The 7-speed transmission was a joy, smooth, like it wasn't even there. It has Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) and manual shift mode with Downshift Rev Matching.
The 2013 Infiniti QX comes with rear-wheel drive ($60,750) or four-wheel drive ($63,850). Each uses a 5.6-liter V8 and 7-speed automatic transmission, with standard luxury and performance features including leather seats, hard drive voice-command navigation with weather, traffic, and restaurant guide, and 13-speaker Bose audio system with XM satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio and iPod compatibility. Also standard are 8-way power seats, dual-zone climate control, multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, and four 12-volt outlets. The standard seating configuration is two front bucket seats, two second-row bucket seats with a center console, and a three-place folding rear seat. Optional for the same price is a folding second-row bench seat that brings total seating to eight.
The Deluxe Touring Package ($4650) includes the Bose surround-sound system with 15 speakers, Hydraulic Body Motion Control system, climate-controlled front seats, semi-aniline leather seating surfaces, Mocha Burl trim, rear seat footwell lights, Advanced Climate Control System (ACCS), headlight washers and 22-inch wheels. The Theater Package ($3100) features dual 7-inch color monitors, two pairs of wireless headphones, wireless remote control, auxiliary inputs, 120V power outlet, heated rear seats, remote tip-up rear seats for easy third row access. The Split Bench Seat Package replaces the standard second row captain's chairs and center console with a 3-passenger bench seat with 60/40-split folding. The Tire and Wheel Package ($2450) offers 22x8-inch 9-spoke forged aluminum-alloy wheel and 275/50R22 all-season tires. The Technology Package ($3000) offers Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Distance Control Assist (DCA), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Departure Prevention (LDP), Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Blind Spot Intervention® (BSI), Front Pre-Crash Seat Belts, and Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS) with auto-leveling headlights.
Safety equipment includes frontal airbags, front side airbags, airbag curtains, front seat active head restraints, second row LATCH system, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with traction control, tire pressure monitor, and ABS with Brake Assist.