What's New for 2008
The Infiniti QX56 undergoes its first major freshening since its debut. The 2008 QX56 has subtle styling changes, a significant redesign of its interior and the addition of new standard and optional equipment that brings it more in line with other top, large luxury SUVs.
If "chrome-y" were a word, it would certainly apply to the 2008 Infiniti QX56. In the full-size luxury SUV segment, tradition holds that bigger is better and, by extension, the more chrome, the better. As such, if the sheer size of the QX56 doesn't stun your neighbors into silence, the blinding sheen coming off its chrome 20-inch wheels and massive grille is bound to do the trick.
While the QX56 uses much the same formula as the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator to attract attention, it is the only Japanese entry in the battle of bling SUVs. Based on the Nissan Armada and built in Mississippi, it offers more avant garde styling than the big American-brand SUVs do, especially now that the 2008 model has been upgraded with new front and rear fascias and been fitted with 20-inch wheels as standard. Both the Escalade and Navigator have "measly" 18s standard, with larger rims optional.
The 2008 Infiniti QX56 has been noticeably improved inside. Thanks to improvements in materials quality and the design of the instrument panel, the QX's cabin no longer immediately strikes one as a leather-lined derivative of the workaday Nissan Titan pickup cab. Standard equipment now includes keyless start, a power-folding third-row seat and a revised navigation system with voice activation, real-time traffic updates and a 9.3-gigabyte hard drive that can also store music files for the upgraded 12-speaker Bose stereo system. These additions give the QX56 an edge against the 'Slade and 'Gator in terms of high-tech features, and Infiniti is also keeping pricing very competitive as well.
While the Mercedes-Benz GL450 is our top recommendation in the full-size luxury SUV segment, some buyers find it lacks the needed amount of flash that makes the Escalade, Navigator and QX56 so attractive. As such, making a choice largely boils down to personal preference. It could be that the 2008 QX56's updated styling, new high-tech goodies and lower fully loaded price will be enough to unseat the Escalade as the current king of bling for many potential buyers. It just depends on whether they find it chrome-y enough.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Infiniti QX56 is a full-size luxury SUV offered with rear- or four-wheel drive. Standard equipment is plentiful. Every QX comes with 20-inch chromed aluminum wheels, xenon headlights, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, a sunroof and a power liftgate. A power-folding third-row seat, second-row captain's chairs, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, first- and second-row heated seats, power adjustable pedals and power front seats are also included. There are also plenty of electronic gadgets to play with, including keyless start, a navigation system with real-time traffic information (requires an XM Satellite Radio subscription), voice-activated electronic functions, Bluetooth connectivity and a 12-speaker Bose audio system with a 9.3-gigabyte hard drive for digital music storage and playback. Options include adaptive cruise control, a second-row bench that increases seating capacity to eight, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a tow package for rear-wheel-drive models. (It's standard on the QX56 4WD.)
Powertrains and Performance
The 2008 QX56 is offered with either 2WD or 4WD with low-range gearing. Power comes from a 5.6-liter V8 that produces a healthy 320 horsepower and 393 pound-feet of torque. The V8 is matched to a standard five-speed automatic transmission. The QX56 is quick for a full-size SUV, going from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. Towing capacity is 9,000 pounds on rear-wheel-drive models when properly equipped. As is typical for this class of vehicle, gas mileage is poor, with 12 mpg city and 17/18 mpg highway using the EPA's revised 2008 testing regimen.
Antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, reverse parking sensors and a rearview monitor are all standard on the 2008 Infiniti QX56. In National Highway Transportation Safety Administration frontal-impact crash tests, the QX56 scored four stars (out of five) for the driver and five stars for the passenger.
Interior Design and Special Features
The QX56's instrument panel was completely redesigned for 2008 and is now more befitting a luxury vehicle than the previous setup. Controls are laid out smartly and mirror those found in Infiniti's other vehicles. Materials have also been greatly improved, while real wood trim and soft leather trim continue to decorate the cabin. As a full-size luxury SUV, the QX is more than capable of fitting a large family in comfort. Second-row captain's chairs are standard, as is a removable center console and a power fold-flat third-row bench seat. A fold-flat second-row bench seat that increases passenger capacity to eight is optional. As big as it is, the QX56 has less maximum cargo capacity than a standard-wheelbase Escalade or Navigator, with 97 cubic feet of space. The Infiniti does have more capacity than those two if you're planning to seat passengers in all three rows (20 cubic feet behind the rearmost bench). Unlike the Escalade and Navigator, though, there is no extended-length QX model available that offers even more room.
Around town, the 2008 Infiniti QX56 moves out briskly and effortlessly storms up freeway on-ramps to blend into fast-moving traffic. The five-speed automatic provides seamless gearchanges and steps down promptly when a burst of power is needed for quick passing. The QX56's fully independent suspension provides the well-damped ride that luxury SUV buyers expect along with surprisingly nimble handling for a vehicle of its size. Body lean is noticeable when cornering, but it's nothing excessive -- just a reminder to the driver that in spite of the QX56's sure-footed handling, there are still almost 3 tons worth of luxury sport-ute getting tossed around.