First Look: 2011 Infiniti QX56

The full-size SUV market may be shrinking, but it's still an incredibly profitable piece of the pie for manufacturers with desirable products. So if you've got a platform to use (such as the Nissan Patrol sold overseas, for instance) it makes a lot of sense to add the requisite luxury features, re-skin it and charge a lot more for it. That's just what Infiniti did to create the 2011 Infiniti QX56 which is bowing at the 2010 New York show.

Aside from the new QX56's smoother, more flowing lines, you'll no doubt notice its massive 22-inch wheels, which are available as part of the deluxe touring package that also includes Infiniti's hydraulic body motion control - a system designed to keep the big SUV flatter in turns and improve overall handling. Since the last QX was so lumbering in turns, even a moderate improvement in handling will no doubt go a long way toward satisfying enthusiasts.

Motion control could come in quite handy if you're eager to tap into the 400-hp V-8's potential. Infiniti is sticking with the familiar 5.6-liter displacement but squeezing 25% more horsepower out of it thanks to direct injection and variable valve timing. We've also been told the engine increases fuel economy by 10%, but Infiniti has yet to release the new QX's EPA numbers. Buyers can choose between rear- or all-wheel drive models and the only transmission offered is a seven-speed automatic. Thanks to the major horsepower and body-on-frame construction, the QX can tow an impressive 8500 pounds in either rear- or four-wheel drive configuration.

Of course most buyers will be more interested in the QX's interior appointments than how much it can tow, and not surprisingly, there's a lot of luxury going on in the cabin. With Infiniti's standard hard drive-based navigation unit, Bluetooth, XM satellite radio, and optional features like semi-aniline leather seats or a pair of 7-inch video screens for passengers in the second row, the QX is as upscale as you'd expect a vehicle in its class to be.

Infiniti has been on the cutting edge with technology and the QX is no exception. It's loaded beyond the gills with a bevy of standard and optional electronic aids for the driver that range from lane departure warning and prevention to blind spot warning to active cruise control with collision avoidance provisions. If you’re in the market for a fullsize luxury SUV with all the latest technological wizardy designed to make driving it easier, look no further.

Perhaps the most impressive point on the new QX is its pricing. Despite the major powertrain enhancements and upmarket interior appointments, the QX will not see a price increase for 2011. A rear-wheel drive QX starts at $56,700 and four-wheel-drive QX56s will begin at $59,800. These prices do not include destination charges as Infiniti has not released that information for its 2011 model year lineup as of yet. We should have that information shortly though as the 2011 Infiniti QX56 goes on sale this summer.

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