Though luxury SUVs are nearly as plentiful as disillusioned "singers" in the early rounds of "American Idol," SUVs with traditional body-on-frame architecture are becoming nearly extinct. Most manufacturers have gone to lighter and more efficient unibody designs. But for that minority of consumers who want to be coddled in the lap of luxury while they tow an Airstream trailer the size of a condo, there is the 2011 Infiniti QX56.
Completely redesigned this year, the QX56 gets bolder styling and a more upscale interior. The eight-passenger interior is fitted with an abundance of high-quality materials and available high-tech features that include an "Around View" camera system that makes it much easier to park this substantial vehicle.
Power comes from a new 5.6-liter V8 with 400 horsepower (80 more than before) and 413 pound-feet of torque (20 more lb-ft than before), and that powerhouse is paired with a new seven-speed automatic. Towing capacity is rated at an impressive 8,500 pounds and fuel mileage is better by 10 percent compared to before, though ratings of 12 mpg city and 18 mpg highway are hardly anything to celebrate. An available Hydraulic Body Motion Control System (which includes 22-inch wheels and tires) automatically reduces body lean while cornering, which in turn provides a better ride and more composed handling.
As before, the 2011 Infiniti QX56 will compete against traditional luxury SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. It should be more competitive than before, but check back later for a full review with additional driving impressions and buying advice.