I spent my impressionable childhood being toted around in the way back of my family's 1992 Toyota Land Cruiser and in many large sport-utilities owned by my friends' families, so I feel that I have a pretty good idea of how buyers actually use them. Our Land Cruiser took us from our home in suburban New York City to the Outer Banks, to the Berkshires in the dead of winter, and of course to the Stop n Shop about ten thousand times. I've arrived at school plays, ceramics classes, Japanese-language classes, violin lessons, and Broadway shows in the third-row seats of Cadillac Escalades and Mitsubishi Monteros and Lexus LX470s and Chevy Suburbans. By the time I got my driver's license, my family had downsized to a series of Lexus RX's, but when I was with my friends in their big family SUVs, I usually managed to take the driver's seat. So, yeah, I know SUVs. And, yeah, I know they aren't the most efficient vehicles on the road, but even with impending $4-per-gallon gasoline, there are still people who have boats to tow, big families and luggage to haul on summer vacations, and household goods to be ferried home from Costco and the Home Depot, and there are plenty of families who want to do it in the lap of luxury and style.
Plenty of vehicles meet those needs, and we have one of them, a 2011 Infiniti QX56, in the Automobile Magazine Four Seasons fleet right now. So far, we quite like the big beast, because it's a master at tackling all of the tasks we've mentioned above. However, many editors have complained that the QX is too expensive and too thirsty. But is it really any pricier and thirstier than its most obvious competitor, the 2011 Lexus LX570? Only a comparison test could tell us which Japanese luxo-SUV would come out on top.