Our 2011 Infiniti QX56 has only been at 120 E. Liberty for a month but we've wasted little time putting it to the test. In the first week alone, it took art director Matt Tierny's family of four on a weekend vacation and then immediately turned around to embark on a week-long journey to Florida with associate editor Eric Tingwall and three fellow Ironman Triathletes as well as their equipment. Shortly thereafter, editor-in-chief Jean Jennings used the QX to shuttle her prize-winning Chesapeake Bay retriever, Bob, to two dog shows in the Midwest.
Closer to home, deputy editor Joe DeMatio noted that, "Our QX56 is quite sumptuously equipped." DeMatio quickly had his Blackberry paired with the Bluetooth interface, but didn't have much luck with the voice recognition system.
Eric Tingwall's 2500 mile trip to Florida and back was a test of the QX's cargo capacity and comfort. With four adults, the group was able to fold the third row of seats and "quickly filled the rear with helmets, wetsuits, race gear, shoes, and one bike with the wheels removed." They used a bike rack to carry the remaining bikes for the triathlon although Tingwall had a difficult time using a Yakima Quickback 3 bike rack because of the rather large lip on the top of the hatch. For future bike-toting excursions we'll likely use a hitch-mounted rack.
Passenger comfort was great on the long drive down to Florida thanks to the supple ride and the ability for passengers in the rear seats to watch a DVD while the driver and front passenger enjoy music from an iPod or the radio. For the group's return trip, a fifth passenger was added to the vehicle and that meant someone was relegated to the third-row seat. Tingwall would have preferred the optional (at no extra cost) 60/40 bench seat in the second row, rather than captains' chairs, in order to keep the third row seats folded.
Jean Jennings immediately folded the third row of seats to make room for her Chesapeake Bay retriever, and noted that the seats do not fold flat-they cant downwards, which makes it difficult to keep a dog crate level. Nonetheless, Bob made it to both of his dog shows in style while his owners remained comfortable up front. As one would expect, the heated steering wheel and seats drew big praise on the November drives.
Now that the snow is flying in Ann Arbor, we're all going to be fighting for the keys of this big, comfortable 4x4. Expect to see the miles accumulate rapidly over the next 11 months and check back to find out what sort of interesting uses we find for our 2011 Infiniti QX56 4WD.