During this winter that just won't quit, our 2011 Infiniti QX56 remains a top choice for transporting staffers and family members facing this inclement weather. We've sung the praises of the heated steering wheel and heated seats in past updates, but they remain a favorite feature as the temperatures remain below freezing.
In the past month, we've seen enough snow and ice to give the four-wheel drive system a rigorous workout. From unplowed streets to plowed-in alley entrances, the QX's massive all-season tires and 22-inch wheels have rolled through any obstacles in their paths. Although the system sends power to the rear wheels most of the time, the automatic four-wheel-drive setting will send power to the front wheels when the rear wheels lose traction. In automatic mode, the QX lets the tail hang out quite a bit on icy roads before sending power to the front wheels. Locking the system into 4-hi solves this problem. We haven't yet had much reason to engage 4-low, but the extra range position serves as good reminder we're driving a bona fide SUV, not merely some crossover.
To test the QX's truck underpinnings, one staffer towed a racecar to a shop for some pre-season preparations. The QX shrugged off the trailer, which weighed around 5000 pounds, and was still perfectly happy cruising at 80 mph. Selecting tow/haul mode for the transmission dialed up revised shift mapping, and produced perfectly-timed downshifts during braking. Tow/haul mode was especially useful because we haven't installed a trailer brake controller on our QX. If transporting racecars becomes a regular task (and it might be as multiple staffers are avid weekend racers) we'll need to equip the QX with an aftermarket trailer brake controller since Infiniti does not offer one as a factory option.
Few vehicles are able to bridge the gap between luxury, utility, and people moving like Infiniti's big SUV, and the Automobile Magazine Four Seasons fleet provides plenty of opportunities to test the QX's multiple roles. Be sure to come back to see how it handles the various challenges we throw at it.