Reviews

2013 INFINITI QX56 Walk Around

If the INFINITI QX56 were to be described in a word, it would be big. And bulbous; humped smoothly, at least at the hood and front fenders, although the headlights bulge sideways. In the rear, not so smooth. There, that one word might be ugly (we would be gentler, and say not particularly attractive, but that's three words). At the liftgate and taillights, the bulges and lines go everywhere, with two big slabs of chrome slapped on. The back end is cleaned up a bit by the rear bumper being integrated, and the tow hitch receiver being hidden behind a plate in the bumper.

The running boards are body-colored, as are splashguards built into the wheel arches. There's no chrome on the body sides like there used to be, except for the door handles, that's nice. The chrome outline around the window makes the QX56 look longer than it is, which is way long, more than 17 feet; however the C-pillar is triangular, turning the chromed window outline forward at the cargo area, so that makes it look like a smaller SUV, and not sleek. That chrome line matches the chrome line of the portholes on the front fenders, which are a nice touch, especially since the left porthole is functional, sucking in air for the engine.

Our QX was equipped with the optional 22-inch nine-spoke alloy wheels, which look better in pictures than real life. Standard wheels are 20-inch, and we'd prefer them. The massive grille is unmistakably Nissan/INFINITI, and the headlamps are stylishly angled up and away, bulging for style we guess. The big hood is like a hump, as are the front fenders. You really notice this from the driver's seat. All the time, and it's kind of nice. Your SUV is not lost in the crowd, at least from your point of view. The coefficient of drag is 0.36, good for a truck, and INFINITI says there is zero aerodynamic lift, thanks also to a front underbody spoiler and liftgate spoiler.

Interior

The INFINITI QX56 seats seven with second-row captain's chairs, or eight with a three-seat bench in the second row. Take your pick, same price, although most models in showrooms will be seven-seaters. There's leather galore, including the steering wheel, or premium leather with the Deluxe Touring Package.

The driver's seat is 10-way power adjustable and passenger seat eight-way; both have two-way power lumbar support. Heated seats in front is standard, cooled is optional.

The rear bench seat is also heated, but the captain's chairs aren't. Between the captain's chairs there's a gigantic console with two storage bins and two cupholders. They offer a generous 41 inches of legroom, and flip forward to access to the third row. It's an easy lever to pull, for anyone climbing in; still, a remote release button on the center stack and key fob is optional, allowing the driver to release it remotely.

There are a total of six grab handles, needed because it's such a tall climb into the front and rear, but there are none for the passengers climbing back to the third row. The captain's chairs don't lock when they're manually flipped, so they might wobble when the third-row passenger uses them for support climbing in.

Back in the third row there's good headroom and relatively good legroom, and the seats recline 20 degrees. There are three seatbelts, but we can't imagine. For 2013, INFINITI added perforation and stitching to the third row leather, to match the first and second rows, with the Deluxe Touring Package.

The 60/40 third row seat folds flat, with a power button located in the cargo space. 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 space is as big as a queen bed. We mean it. We actually did carry a disassembled queen-sized bed and mattress back there; the mattress had to be bent just a bit to get it in, but then it fell pretty much flat. We had room for a short palm tree on the rear floor.

From the driver's seat, we liked the way-high seating position, and the clean gauges with luminescent white lighting. Clean graphics make instruments easy to read. Between the big tach and speedo there's a window with a small amount of digital information, though not enough: temperature, odometer and transmission gear. Far less expensive cars offer travel and fuel mileage here.

The QX56 travel and fuel information is on the 8-inch touch-screen at the top of the center stack. You have to reach way over there and select the info from the menu, a distraction that compromises safety while driving. Worse, the Back button on the touch-screen menu, which you use a lot because of all the trial and error, is located at the top right of the screen, the biggest stretch of all. We don't like it.

Another thing we don't like is that the radio can't be tuned while the car is moving. Seventy-eight thousand dollars for a car that makes you pull over and stop every time you want to change the radio station. Well, it could be tuned between satellite radio categories, and preset stations, but not to selected new stations. The Direct Tune button is blacked out on the radio while the car is moving. There might be a sly way around it, but it won't be easy and it should be.

We liked the voice in the navigation voice guidance, it sounded clear and intelligent. But on the screen itself, some things were too small to read, for example the speed limit sign, whose icon is about the size of a postage stamp. Also the numbers for miles to destination, and other things. Our passenger, a 14-year-old super geek named Zeke, took one look at the navigation display and the way its functions were accessed, and pronounced it outdated.

We didn't like the display for the rearview camera either. INFINITI brags about its 360-degree feature, but all we know is that even though we were paying close attention, we still backed (gently) into a pole one drizzly night, because the view didn't show the pole very well and the warning beep came too late. Our $3,000 Technology Package gave us MOD (Moving Object Detection), so maybe if the pole had been moving the camera would have seen it sooner.

Speaking of beeps, the car warned us of something, every time we parked and took the key out, and we have no idea why. Maybe it was telling us we were parking and taking the key out.

You might tell us to go read the manual. We tried. We always do. We've found that the more expensive the car, the thicker the manual; the thicker the manual, the more confused it is. It did tell us that there are nine cupholders and four bottle holders in the door pockets.

The dashboard is shaped like a huge arc, leaving no flat tray up there, but it looks okay. Our interior was two-tone leather, brown and wheat, and so was the dash, with Mocha Burl trim as part of our Deluxe Touring Package. The center console is a big wide well, only one compartment, because it slides forward a few inches for an ergonomic armrest. The classic INFINITI analog clock is harder to read than a digital.

Our $3100 Theater Package gave us two 7-inch color monitors and wireless headphones with remote control for DVD watching in the front headrests, and the $4650 Deluxe Touring Package provided the 15-speaker Bose Cabin Surround sound system. Back seat passengers can watch movies while front seat passengers can listen to music.

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