Introduced as an all-new model in 2004, the Infiniti QX56 full-size SUV enters 2005 with only minor changes: front seat active head restraints and front seatbelt pre-tensioners are now standard equipment.

Named for its 5.6-litre V8 engine, the QX56 is based on the Nissan Armada, itself a variant of the Nissan Titan pickup truck. Like the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator, it’s an upscale version of a less expensive model, although the QX56’s engine makes ten more horsepower than the Armada’s 5.6-litre V8. The QX56’s four-wheel-drive uses a part-time transfer case with low gear, with settings for rear-wheel-drive, 4-high and 4-low. Three rows of seats can be ordered in seven- or eight-passenger configurations.

The QX56 comes in a single trim line and includes a five-speed automatic transmission with tow/haul mode, heavy-duty skid plates, rear auto-levelling air suspension, 18-inch seven-spoke chromed alloy wheels, tire pressure monitoring system, intelligent cruise control, Xenon headlights, fog lamps, LED tail and brake lights, power-operated liftgate with opening rear glass, rear proximity sensor, integrated tow package, heated mirrors with puddle lamps, privacy glass, power flip-out rear quarter windows, leather interior, real wood trim, ten-way driver and eight-way power passenger heated seats, second-row heated seats, automatic dual-zone climate control, navigation system with seven-inch LCD screen, and six-CD Bose system with ten speakers and wheel-mounted controls.

Loaded with more luxury features than some of the penthouse suites it could undoubtedly tow around, the QX56 is a huge, unmistakable presence on the road. Its price-tag adds $22,400 over the Armada upon which it’s based. The Lincoln Navigator is cheaper and the Cadillac Escalade pricier, but let’s be painfully honest: those two are overkill and they’re still an improvement over the QX56’s styling, or lack thereof. Sharp-eyed fans of old cars will notice, of all things, that the QX56’s odd side window and roofline treatment bear a remarkable resemblance to that of a 1956 Rambler station wagon.

The QX56 is assembled in Canton, Mississippi.

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