Luxury on a Grand Scale: The 2005 Infiniti QX56

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Physician's Money Digest, May 2005, Volume 12, Issue 8

This size vehicle provides morethan basic transportation. TheInfiniti QX56 is almost 207inches long, with a generouswheelbase of 123.2 inches. The longwheelbase creates a roomy tall cabin withthree rows of leather seats. The rear tworows easily fold flat. The QX56 and itsless luxurious sibling, the NissanArmada, are built on a powerful ladderframe with an SUV body bolted on top,making them very rigid vehicles.

Power to Tow

Our pick:

The 5.6-liter DOHC V8 is capable oftowing almost 9000 pounds in rear-wheeldrive mode. The all-wheel drivefor the best active safety and the most funon the road. However, 5-speed automaticis too tight. A smooth launch is difficultand gear changes are noticeably firm.

The independent suspension is alsofirm and corners in a flat fashion, like asports car, due to generous stabilizerbars in the front and rear. The standardauto-leveling rear suspension, 7-pinwiring trailer harness, and automatictransmission temperature gauge makethe QX56 tow-worthy. The transmissionhas a tow mode that substantiallychanges its shift points when turned on.Turn on the transmission tow modewhen you aren't towing and feel the heritageof the Nissan 350Z in the heart ofthis big truck. It does make driving fun,although you will burn through gasmuch more quickly.

This sporty truck is loaded with luxuryfeatures, like multiple lights on theoutside that clearly illuminate the groundas you step out, xenon headlamps, andfull, easy-step running boards. Add tothat a rear-view backup camera and rearproximity sensors, and you've got lots ofhelp watching your back.

On the inside, a DVD navigation system,10-speaker Bose radio with a 6-discCD changer, four heated leather captain'schairs, 10 cup holders, and four poweroutlets allow for family and businessmeetings of all kinds.

Stepping Up

The QX56 is a rather large SUV. Theload floor in the rear of the vehicle isalmost 3 feet off the ground. Loading asingle large object like a dresser shouldbe comfortable, but you'll need a ladderif you want to stack boxes up. You'llfind that the remote control powerhatchback is a great convenience.

It takes two steps to get into thistruck. The rocker panel step is about 1foot off the ground, with the vehicle'sinterior another foot above that. Althoughthere are adequate handholds,it may be difficult for young and oldalike to get in and out of the QX56.

Once inside, the front two rows ofseats are extremely supportive, adjustable,and comfortable. Except for thecenter console, the fold-down middlerow captain's chairs create a smooth, flatsurface. If you need seating for eight, wesuggest a middle bench seat, availablewith seating for three across. Gettinginto the back seat is for the young andlimber. The third seat simply and convenientlyfolds into the floor.

Two separate drives should be donebefore you buy any vehicle: one to see ifthe vehicle exceeds your minimum standardsand a second one after you've drivenat least two competing models. Theclosest competitors to the Infiniti QX56are the Lincoln Navigator and LexusLX470. Compare products and pricesfor yourself, but the QX56 will likelygive you greater satisfaction than thecompetition for thousands less. So, ifyou are considering buying a large luxurySUV, include this Q in your testing.

Jean Swenson

and Ashly Knapp are independent

research reporters and the founders of

AutoAdvisor.com.