By KBB.com Editors
Conceived in the bigger-is-better school of SUV design, the 2009 Infiniti QX56 takes its job as a full-size luxury hauler very seriously. Available in a single upline trim level, this body-on-frame design is based on Nissan's Titan pickup platform but shares styling and engineering basics with its cousin, the Nissan Armada. In addition to a powerful V8, rear- or four-wheel drive configurations and class-leading towing capacity, the 2009 QX56 features a plush cabin with standard seating for seven or eight. An abundance of luxury appointments makes this mammoth Infiniti the only import-badged luxury SUV with the scale, features and capabilities to compete directly with big domestic models like the Cadillac Escalade ESV, GMC Yukon XL and Lincoln Navigator L, while fending off other international nameplates, including the Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GL 450 and the Lexus LX 570.You'll Like This Car If...
If your personal priorities in an SUV skew towards a stylish, comfortable, featured-packed interior and you need the power to tow serious payloads, the QX56 would be well worth considering.You May Not Like This Car If...
Despite last year's mild facelift, the 2009 Infiniti QX56's styling might be too similar to the Nissan Armada for the tastes of some buyers of premium SUVs. It's big, it's thirsty and, despite a fully independent suspension system, it lacks the handling precision of many unit-body designs. With its second- and third-row seats up for passengers or down for cargo, the QX56's usable storage space merits only so-so marks among the jumbo-hauler segment.What's New for 2009
After a major makeover last year, the Infiniti QX56 carries over relatively unchanged for 2009.Driving It Driving Impressions
With its fully-independent suspension tuned for comfortable cruising rather than quick responses and a well-isolated and well-appointed cabin, the 2009 Infiniti QX56 can make short work of even the longest trips. Both rear-drive and four-wheel-drive versions have excellent ride compliance and feature automatic rear load leveling. The 5.6-liter V8 provides sufficient muscle to cope with in-town traffic or freeway overtaking and, while the QX56's tall profile and curb weight of nearly three tons can elicit considerable body roll during really brisk cornering or transition maneuvers (as would be reasonably expected of such a vehicle during such driving), its standard and driver-selectable Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) package provides reassurance, particularly during slippery conditions. Despite its size, the QX56's steering feels fairly direct and its big ABS brakes are more than capable. Those who engage in moderate off-road rambling will like the available All-Mode part-time four-wheel-drive system that can instantly dole out power to each wheel as traction dictates and offers a dual-range transfer case with electronic shift-on-the-fly capabilities.Favorite Features
Premium Bose Audio
The standard system is a 12-speaker Bose Surround Sound package that includes a Burr-Brown Digital Audio Converter and a 9.3-gigabyte Music Box hard drive that delivers outstanding fidelity and clarity in AM/FM/CD/MP3 formats – as well as for the optional rear-seat DVD Mobile Entertainment System.
Power Third-Row Seat
This feature lets you reconfigure the rear passenger and cargo compartment at the push of a button. Either or both sides of the 60/40 split-folding third-row bench seat will automatically fold flat for cargo or move back up into their people-hauling positions to best accommodate changing requirements.
Last year's major makeover imparted a notably richer design punctuated by yards of rich leather and warm wood accents. The restyled dash houses more legible instrumentation in a far friendlier overall layout while including a premium Bose sound package and enhanced capabilities for the standard navigation system. Other standard items include a heated steering wheel, lockable glovebox and wood-grain accent trim. Space is plentiful in the front seats and second-row captain's chairs. While the third-row 60/40-split bench seat is still best accessed and occupied by younger or smaller folks, its power-fold feature adds convenience and simplifies expanding the cargo capacity - which is as much as 97.1 cubic feet with both second- and third-row seats folded down.Exterior
The 2009 Infiniti QX56's dominating and prominently angular presence received a slight softening last year, although its abundance of chrome remains intact. While it's true the major sheetmetal pieces carry over and remain common with its Nissan Armada cousin, both the front and rear soft fascias on the QX56 have more refined contours. Complementing the look are revised grille and headlight treatments crowned with a cleaner-looking one-piece roof rack. The QX56's large upright glass area provides good driver sightlines and its well-proportioned doors and power tailgate facilitate people access and cargo loading. Both rear-drive and four-wheel-drive versions share the same 20-inch chromed aluminum wheels wrapped in 265/60 Michelin all-season SUV tires.Notable Standard Equipment
Beyond a powerful V8 and five-speed automatic transmission, the 2009 Infiniti QX56's outstanding features include xenon HID headlights, front dual-zone automatic and rear climate control, full leather trim, power front seats, fold-flat second-row captain's chairs, power-folding 60/40-split third-row bench seat, power liftgate, Bose audio system with Music Box hard drive with XM Satellite Radio, navigation system with rear-view backup camera and NavTraffic, remote entry and start, power-adjustable pedals and four 12-volt power outlets. Also in the mix are stability-enhancing Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), advanced anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), a limited-slip differential and front, front-side and side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor.Notable Optional Equipment
Given its expansive roster of standard equipment, the QX56's list of extras is minimal. That list includes an available no-charge 60/40 split-folding second-row bench in place of the captain's chairs and removable console, Intelligent Cruise Control with front proximity sensors, the Infiniti Mobile Entertainment System (rear-seat DVD package with eight-inch flip-down screen and dual wireless headsets) and a tow package (standard with four-wheel drive).Under the Hood
Motivating the 2009 Infiniti QX56 is an all-aluminum 5.6-liter V8 that employs numerous friction-reducing design elements. Fitted with efficiency-enhancing variable valve timing, the engine makes a stout 320 horsepower and an even more formidable 393 pound-feet of torque, 90 percent of which is on hand from just 2500 rpm. Backing it is a smooth and responsive five-speed automatic transmission with a convenient tow/haul feature. The four-wheel-drive QX56 also is fitted with an electronically controlled shift-on-the-fly dual-range transfer case with 2HI/4HI/4LO modes and can tow up to an 8,900-pound trailer. While slightly less than the 9,000-pound rating of its rear-drive kin, both represent class-leading figures. The four-wheel-drive version has EPA fuel economy ratings of 12 mpg city, 17 mpg highway, while the two-wheel-drive model is rated at 12 and 18 mpg, respectively.
320 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
393 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/18 (2WD), 12/17 (4WD)
The 2009 Infiniti QX56 has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just over $56,000 for the rear-drive model and slightly over $59,000 for the four-wheel-drive version. Those are very competitive figures for an SUV with the QX56's outstanding content and capabilities. Historically, this Infiniti has done an enviable job of maintaining good resale value in its segment, with the four-wheel-drive variant marginally surpassing the rear-drive model. The projected residual percentages for both remain higher than competitive versions of the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator L, on par with the GMC Yukon Denali, and lower than the Lexus LX 570, and the Mercedes-Benz GL 450.