Full 2009 Infiniti QX56 Review
What's New for 2009
After significant revisions last year, the 2009 Infiniti QX56 receives no notable changes.
If bling is your thing, you'll find a lot to like about the 2009 Infiniti QX56. Everything from its bold grille to its 20-inch wheels is festooned with mirror-finish brightwork, and the QX56's unorthodox styling makes it stand out amid the sea of cookie-cutter SUVs. Having elbowed its way into an attention-grabbing segment once ruled by domestics like the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator, the Nissan Armada-based QX56 remains a viable alternative to these gargantuan American utes, even in the sixth year of its current design.
Last year's revisions have helped keep the QX56 competitive. The revamped interior boasts improved materials quality and a bevy of standard premium features like keyless start and a power-folding third-row seat. There's also plenty of state-of-the-art technology, including a navigation system with voice activation, real-time traffic updates and a hard drive that can store a library's worth of music files for the 12-speaker Bose audio system. As ever, the QX56 is surprisingly enjoyable to drive for such a massive vehicle, thanks to its well-controlled ride and willing V8. And while it's not a segment leader in cargo capacity, it will still haul more people and packages than most other SUVs on the road.
As is often the case with luxury vehicles, choosing the one for your driveway is largely a matter of personal preference rather than objective rankings. If a classy but subdued presence is more your speed, we suggest looking at the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. If you want the biggest and brawniest luxury SUV on the block, it's hard to top the Escalade. But if you're partial to big, bright and shiny and the domestic luxury offerings seem a bit too traditional, then by all means, express yourself with the 2009 Infiniti QX56.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Infiniti QX56 is a full-size luxury SUV available in two- or four-wheel-drive versions with standard seven-passenger seating. The comprehensive standard equipment list includes 20-inch chrome wheels, an auto-leveling rear suspension, xenon headlights, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, a sunroof, a power liftgate, a heated steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power front seats, second-row fold-flat captain's chairs, a power-folding third-row seat and first- and second-row heated seats. The QX56 is also a technological tour de force, thanks to equipment like keyless start, a hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic information, voice-activated electronic functions, Bluetooth connectivity and a 12-speaker Bose audio system with 9.3 GB of built-in digital music storage.
Options are limited to a second-row split bench seat, a technology package with adaptive cruise control and front sonar sensors, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a towing package for two-wheel-drive models (standard on 4WD).
Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 QX56 is motivated by a 5.6-liter V8 that produces 320 horsepower and 393 pound-feet of torque. This robust engine is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission in either rear-wheel-drive or 4WD layouts, with the 4WD version offering low-range gearing for tackling serious off-road terrain. The QX56 is relatively quick for such a large vehicle, managing the 0-60-mph sprint in 7.3 seconds. Towing capacity is a beefy 9,000 pounds on properly equipped 2WD models. As is typical for a large SUV, the QX56 gulps fuel at an aggressive rate. EPA estimated fuel economy for a 4WD model is 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined.
The 2009 Infiniti QX56 comes standard with antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, active front head restraints, front-seat side-impact airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. Past models were criticized for weak brakes, but that problem was addressed in last year's refresh, and the QX56's brakes now perform satisfactorily. In frontal impact crash testing, the big Infiniti scored a perfect five stars out of five for driver protection and four stars for the front passenger.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Infiniti QX56's cabin received a welcome and overdue upgrade last year. The redesigned instrument panel and higher-quality materials are more in keeping with this SUV's mid-$50,000 luxury price tag. Real wood, soft leather and creature comforts abound, making the spacious QX56 a comfortable companion on longer trips. The standard seating arrangement includes second-row captain's chairs with a removable center console and a power fold-flat third-row bench. For those who need to accommodate up to eight, a flat-folding second-row 40/20/40 split bench seat is available. However, the QX56 provides a somewhat disappointing 97 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity -- more than the smaller Lexus GX 470 or Mercedes-Benz G-Class but less than the comparably sized Escalade or Navigator.
The 2009 Infiniti QX56 accelerates swiftly both around town and on the highway, with seamless gearchanges and quick downshifts for overtaking slower traffic. Its fully independent suspension provides an impressive trade-off between a well-damped luxury ride and sure-footed handling. There's a significant amount of body roll during cornering, but that's to be expected when pushing nearly 3 tons of luxury and utility through twists and turns.