To compete against luxury full-size SUVs, Nissan introduced Infiniti QX56 in 2004, but although it featured a competitive and luxurious cabin, the exterior styling was almost identical to the related Nissan Armada. In an attempt to remedy this as well as free up some production capacity at the Canton, Miss. production plant, the 2011 Infiniti QX56 is all-new and now shares its components with the Japanese-built Nissan Patrol. It is rumored that the Armada will also be switching to the Patrol design for 2011, but the styling differences between the QX and the Armada should be much more dramatic than the current models.
Unveiled at the 2010 New York International Auto Show, the redesigned Infiniti QX now features a more modern styling to give it a much better chance of going up against segment leaders such as the Cadillac Escalade and the Lincoln Navigator. Instead of the square, blocky styling of the current Infiniti QX56, the new model features nicer proportions and sleek lines that better fit the current Infiniti lineup. Up front, the awkward, droopy styling of the current QX56 has been replaced by a curvaceous hood, a large signature grille and headlamps that mimic the aggressive shape of the Infiniti FX crossover. The new roofline and greenhouse are boxier than the current model, but the unique up kick in the rear quarter windows definitely give the new QX a distinct profile. Even the rear view of the 2011 QX shows off sporty cues shared with other Infiniti crossovers such as the narrow LED taillights, the rounded center area of the liftgate and the sculpted rear fascia. Standard on all new QX models are 20-inch seven-spoke chrome wheels, while customers can choose 22-inch, nine-spoke wheels as an option.
Inside, the 2011 Infiniti QX56 gets a more luxurious cabin with a design and layout that matches the tone of the new exterior styling. Ditching the truck-like cabin of the 2004-2010 QX, the all-new model gets an interior design that is just as good as the Infiniti EX and FX crossovers. The double brow look provides a much more upscale look while helping to create a more prominent center stack that is bound in double-stitched leather. Even the new heated steering wheel adds to the luxurious cabin with its wood trimming. In addition to the wood on the steering wheel, the new QX uses authentic wood throughout the cabin as well as real aluminum and stainless steel accents, and it features soft touch materials on just about all surfaces including the use rich leather on the seats, steering wheel and door panels and thick floor carpeting. With standard second-row captain's chairs, the 2011 QX has a seven-passenger seating capacity, but middle-row bench seat is also available that increases the possible passenger count up to eight.
Like the current QX, the 56 stands for the 5.6-liter V-8, but thanks to Nissan's Variable Valve Event and Lift (VVEL) variable valve timing system and the direct injection, the VK56VD engine now produces 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque - an increase of 25 percent and 5 percent, respectively, compared to the VK56DE engine used in the 2010 QX56. Available in either rear- or four-wheel drive, all 2011 QX models will feature a seven-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode and a Downshift Rev Match feature. Although fuel economy numbers were not announced, Infiniti is expecting the updated engine to also improve fuel economy by more than 10 percent which would give it estimates of 13 miles per gallon in the city and up to 20 mpg on the highway.
The new QX will continue to use independent front and rear suspension setups, and it will be the first Infiniti vehicle to offer the Hydraulic Body Motion Control System that reduces body roll while turning for a smoother, more luxurious ride. Despite the added power of the updated engine, the new QX will actually have a lower towing capacity than its predecessor with a rating of 8,500 pounds (down from a maximum of 9,000 pounds) which is better than the Escalade and matches the minimum capacity for the Navigator. The new QX retains its rugged body-on-frame layout, and it should provide interior space and additional cargo capacity thanks to an increase in both width and overall length.
One of the surprising aspects of the new QX56's unveiling is that Infiniti chose to announce model pricing at the same time rather than wait until closer to the vehicle's production. This is most likely due to the fact that Infiniti was able to keep the 2011 pricing identical to the 2010 model which stands at $56,700 for the two-wheel drive model and $59,800 for the four-wheel drive model (both include destination charges of $650). This puts it right in between the Navigator and the Escalade in terms of pricing which each start at $54,400 and $62,495, respectively, for the two-wheel drive models and $57,300 and $65,045, respectively, for the four-wheel drive models.