The 2013 Infiniti QX56 is a fast, luxurious full-size SUV that feels as if it could tow just about anything short of the London Bridge.
The imposing looking QX56 is in the third year of its current-generation design. It has a 5.6-liter direct-injected, 32-valve V-8 with 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque for quick acceleration and a towing capacity of 8,500 pounds.
The V-8 is hooked to a smooth 7-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. The 4WD version has a computer-controlled transfer case with settings in Automatic, 4L and 4H. A console dial controls snow, tow or hill-start assist modes.
The QX56’s engine muscle is needed because it’s such a big guy. It weighs 5,595 pounds with 2WD (rear-drive) and 5,855 pounds with 4WD. It’s got a lengthy 121-inch wheelbase and is 208.3 feet long overall and 80 inches wide. Still, it isn’t hard to maneuver in reasonably roomy areas.
The QX56 is nearly 76 inches high, which allows good vision. But that means the running boards, which should be wider for large shoes, are needed for fairly easy entry to—and exit from—the interior. Reaching the 60/40 split, reclining third-row seat is awkward unless you’re nimble. That seat folds neatly into the floor if you want more cargo room, which is just adequate with the third seat in its normal upright position.
The transmission allows an estimated 20 miles per gallon on the highway, which isn’t bad for a big, powerful SUV. But city fuel economy is only an estimated 14 miles per gallon. Premium fuel is recommended, but at least it’s held by a 26-gallon fuel tank.
Not that one buys this SUV with fuel economy at the top of a list. The QX56 is purchased for its seemingly effortless performance, luxurious nature and 8-passenger capacity with an available second-row 60/40 split folding bench seat, which replaces a second-row center console. There’s 7-passenger seating with the console.
The quiet, upscale, soft-touch interior has gauges that can be quickly read and easily used controls that, nevertheless, take a little getting used to.
Those with long legs won’t be comfortable in the third-row seat. For instance, leg room up front is 39.6 inches, while second-row legroom is 41 inches. Third-row legroom drops to 28.8 inches.
The docile, quiet V-8 looks like it occupies almost every inch of the engine compartment. The engine-speed-sensitive power steering is nicely geared—not too quick or too slow. And a high-stiffness frame structure and independent double wishbone front and rear suspension with stabilizer bars and automatic rear self-leveling system assure a supple ride, although some bumps can be mildly felt.
There’s a little body sway when curves are taken at spirited speeds. But the QX56 always feels planted to roads, especially with 4WD and standard vehicle dynamic control with traction control. However, the QX56 is too big, high and heavy to encourage overly enthusiastic driving.
The anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution are controlled by a pedal with a nice linear feel.
I tested the 2013 QX56 with 4WD. The official Infiniti website says the 2WD model lists at $60,000, while the site says the 4WD version costs $63,100. Prices vary as the model year progresses, and my test vehicle’s window sticker thus put its base price without options at $63,750. Costly extras and a $990 transportation charge upped the bottom-line price of my test QX56 to $78,140.
Those with children will likely want the $3,100 Theater Package, with dual 7-inch color monitors and two wireless headphones. Folks who spend lots of road time may desire the $4,650 Deluxe Touring Package, which contains climate-controlled front seats, a Bose Cabin Surround sound system and a hydraulic body motion control system.
Still, the QX56 doesn’t need option packages to be well-equipped. Standard items include a heated, leather-wrapped wheel, leather-covered seats, heated power front seats, tri-zone automatic temperature control and a power sliding tinted glass moonroof.
There’s also a Bose 13-speaker premium sound system, navigation system and push-button ignition. The power rear hatch is handy, as are the extra-large outside power folding rearview mirrors.
Cupholders? There are nine, besides four door-pocket bottle holders.
Safety items include an advanced air bag system and an Around-View Monitor with a front and rear Sonar System and Moving Object Detection feature.
The $3,000 Technology Package is a prime safety option, especially for drivers who aren’t always alert. It contains intelligent cruise control with distance control assist, blind spot warning and blind spot intervention, besides lane-departure warning and lane-departure prevention systems.
The QX56’s major rivals include the Mercedes-Benz GL, Cadillac Escalade and BMW X5. But it’s different enough to justify taking a good look at it.
Pros: Roomy. Plus. Powerful. 2WD or 4WD. Third-row seat.
Cons: High entry step-up. Poor city fuel economy. Tight third seat.
Bottom Line: Well-equipped, posh SUV with strong muscles.
Dan Jedlicka has been automotive journalist for nearly 45 years. To read more of his new and vintage car reviews, visit: www.danjedlicka.com.