When I drive my 13 year old car, I realize that it is only (barely) good for getting from point A to point B. There is nothing fun about driving it. It’s falling apart, has no performance, and really isn’t good for anything other than being a transportation device. New car owners should feel really lucky, especially if they have a car that has some of the new technology built into it. I’m talking about things like voice commands, adaptive cruise control and other nice little nuances that make driving more of an experience and less of a chore. So I feel pretty lucky being able to test out the latest and greatest cars on the marketplace.
One of the such cars is the 2012 Infiniti QX56. For lack of a better way to describe it, it is a luxurious armored personnel carrier (a sort of tank) that is powered by some pretty cool technology. The QX56 that I test drove for about 10 days made me quickly forget about my “beater” car that drives me to the train every morning for work. The 400 horsepower, 5.6 liter V8 not only wraps the occupants in luxury, it also makes you feel practically invincible on the freeway. The built-in technology not only allows you to enjoy your ride, it also provides state of the art safety features to make you and your rider feel secure and safe on the road.
But before I go on talking about all of the things that I really liked about this SUV of luxury, I do need to say a few items to ensure a balanced review. So, here are a few things to remember if you are shopping for a car like this. The biggest “issue” that I had with this auto was the fact that, given today’s gas prices, it took about $100 to fill up the 26 gallon tank. That wouldn’t be that bad, and it is actually expected with a car of this size and weight, but the gas mileage that I average, which included both trips around the town as well as a long roadtrip from San Francisco to Los Angeles and back, was about 14-15 MPG. Remember to factor that into the cost of the car.
Another thing, and I’m a bit spoiled after testing out a couple of sports cars prior, the acceleration is good but not great. Again, I blame the size and weight (5,855 lbs.) of this SUV. The QX56 that I drove seats 7 people extremely comfortably, the first 2 rows quite a bit better than the last row which we ended up using mainly for additional luggage. What the QX56 doesn’t have in speed, it makes up for in power. As I said, it boasts 400 HP and has 413 lb-ft/4000 RPM of torque and has a towing capacity of 8500 lbs! This SUV is meant to haul things, whether it be a boat, pop-up trailer, motorcycles or water skis, heck, there is even a button for “Tow”.
Again, compared to my old car, the QX56 is all about lifestyle. When you drive it, you feel like you are ready for just about any adventure in the snow or rain or the desert. The model that I drove has 4 Wheel Drive, making it ready for anything and being able to select, on the fly, which type of situation you are in, makes it extremely utilitarian. Before I go into some of the features that I particularly enjoyed, I put together a video that walks through the highlights as well as showcases some of the on-the-road technology that I used. You can also view this video on YouTube here.
So what did I like about the Infiniti QX56? Lots of things:
- 360 degree cameras – I loved this, especially for parking. There are 4 cameras around the QX56 that allow the system to compile a 360 degree view of your surrounding as if someone were hovering above your car and taking a picture down. Using these cameras, you can actually squeeze this large car into a parking space quite easily. The rear view camera comes into action when you are backing up, and with the touch of a button (and if you are moving forward at 7 MPH or less) you can use the front camera. I really wish that I could leave these cameras on at all times, but I understand that they might be potentially distracting when you are driving – taking your eyes off of the road. If there is an object that is too close to any one of the areas around the SUV, an alert sounds and the location is shown on the screen.
- Adaptive Cruise Control – I have driven quite a few cars that have this. This is the next generation of cruise control in that it monitors the speed and distance of the car in front of you and then slows down or speeds up your vehicle based on this bubble of padding between the car ahead and you. This is particularly great on long road trips.
- Lane Departure Warning – I loved this safety feature! What this safety feature does is prevent you from accidentally drifting in to another lane. The QX56 monitors your lane and then when you drift, you hear an audible alert and the QX56 gently applies the brakes to “push” you back into your lane. In my video above, I mention how it feels like the steering pushes you into the lane but it actually is the brakes doing this. This is a great feature, especially when you are falling asleep at the wheel.
- Intelligent Brake Assist – This is another nice bit of technology that makes your driving just a little bit safer. Using the QX56 laser range finder, the QX56 will automatically apply the brakes, slowing your car down safely. In bumper-to-bumper traffic, this is useful, but the braking can be a bit harsh and abrupt. But it still works. You can see the sensor in the picture below along the same line as the fog lights but in the center.
- Blind Spot Warning – I have said this before in previous car reviews. Blind Spot Warning should be standard on all cars. When you have large SUV, your blind spots get larger as well. The QX56 actively monitors vehicles entering and exiting the two blind spots and will warn you via a flashing orange light near the side view mirrors. And, if you put on your blinkers to make a lane change when there is a car in your blind spot, the orange indicators will blink and you will get an audible alert.
- Tri-Zone Entertainment System – When you have kids, it is absolutely CRITICAL that you create a divide the front and the back seats. You need to be able to do this for your own sanity otherwise, the “are we there yet” questions will turn into a Chinese Water Torture! The QX56 entertainment systems allows you to play DVDs (if so equipped) to the back of the front headrests (and they can be individual DVDs – something we didn’t test). What is nice is that if you have the sound playing in the rear (there are wireless headphones that you can use as well), the GPS audio still plays in the front. That’s a nice touch.
There are 13 speakers that envelop the passengers including 2 subwoofers. This premium Bose audio system allows you to play XM satellite radio, AM/FM radio, CD’s, DVDs, streaming Bluetooth audio, and from connected iOS or Android devices.
- Heated/Cooled seats – the front seats can be heated up or cooled down with different levels. I always liked the cooling as a way to keep you awake and alert on long drives. If equipped, as ours was, the middle row seats are also heated, making this a great car for skiing or cold environments.
- Welcome lighting – this is a very subtle but very nice feature. When you approach the QX56, ambient lighting comes on near the side view mirrors, allowing you to really see the area around your auto.
- Automatic Headlights & Wipers – I love automation. And these two features, while small, were definitely missed when I went back to my old car. The HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlights not only turn on when it gets dark, they also pivot as you turn the wheel so that on curvy roads, the direction you are traveling is lit up. The windshield wipers also turn on and adjust speed based on the amount of rain hitting the windshield.
There is lots of great technology powering the QX56 and most of it is around providing safety to you and your occupants. And for me, those items were the most noteworthy. Yes, the QX56 is an extremely luxurious vehicle, comfortable and easy to drive. With the added 360 degree cameras, it’s much easier to maneuver than without it. And the Infiniti QX56 is quite photogenic. You can see all of the photos that I took of it here on my Flickr set or in the video montage below:
The 2012 Infiniti QX56 has a base price of $61,800 for the 4WD version. The one that I drove had the Theater Package, Technology Package, the Deluxe Touring Package and the Tire & Wheel Package and topped out at $75,340. Sure, you can probably pick up an SUV for less money but I highly doubt that it will be as comfortable or as safe or technologically advanced as the QX56.
Disclosure Text: Apart from the 10-day loan of the Infiniti QX56, I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein. More information can be found in my About page as well as here.
HTD says: The Infiniti QX56 wraps its occupants with luxury and safety, all connected via some pretty intriguing technology.