2011 Infiniti QX56
2011 Infiniti QX56. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Howard Elmer

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2011 Infiniti QX56

Louisville, Kentucky – It’s hard to find much wrong with an $80,000 truck; if anything, it may end up feeling just a little ostentatious to a frugal auto scribe – hence the reason that the high-end Infiniti SUV I tested was dropped into a very pricey backdrop: the bluegrass, horse-breeding capital of that sport of kings, Louisville, Kentucky. At least here it was very much at home among the Range Rovers and Escalades.

Completely redesigned this year, the QX sports a new look; with its headlights swept back it appears to have its eyes down, with its metallic shoulders pulled up and back as if tensed. This look frames the double-arch grille which bulges, below the wave-like hood. This defines the front end and it’s this new look that will carry the entire QX line forward for Infiniti.

Coming to Canadian dealers in July, the QX56 will be offered in two models only – seven- or eight-passenger configurations that retail for $73,000. An optional technology package (most elements of which are described below) adds $8,000 to the price. This, according to Infiniti, is the same as the current 2010 model pricing.

2011 Infiniti QX56
2011 Infiniti QX56
2011 Infiniti QX56. Click image to enlarge

So, keeping that price in mind, the rolling hills of Kentucky were a great locale for this drive. Farm after fantastic farm raises horses valued at prices that make this SUV seem cheap by comparison. But there was another reason for being here: despite the moneyed farms and steeds, these are working ranches where space, power and towing ability are important and that’s where the back end of this full-size truck comes into play.

Though the QX56 carries the same front-end as the rest of the stable, that’s where the similarities end: the business end of this bus makes it a square box, which is what it has to be – after all, it does seat seven or eight on either two folding bench seats or a rear bench and two captains chairs. Of course, for the horsey-set it will also carry tack, riding chaps and tow your two favourite fox hunting jumpers (really, they have horses here bred just for that), or up to 3,855 kg (8,498 lb.)

2011 Infiniti QX56
2011 Infiniti QX56. Click image to enlarge

I had a chance to tow a loaded two-horse trailer (3,000 kg/6,613 lb.) around an appropriately lavish farm in the Kentucky hills and I found the QX was stable, towed flat (self-adjusting suspension), and was amply powerful. This is a feature of the redesigned 5.6-litre V8 engine: while it’s the same displacement as the old motor, it uses new technologies like VVEL (Variable Valve Event & Lift) and Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) to make 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers are a 25 per cent improvement over the current model.

Another major change is the advent of the seven-speed automatic transmission. This gearbox is responsible (in part) for the improved low-end torque and also the significantly improved fuel economy. For 2011, Infiniti is claiming a reduction in consumption of up to 12 per cent over the outgoing model. City use is reported to be 15.7 L/100 km (18 mpg Imp.) and on the Highway 10.3 L/100 km (27 mpg Imp.). Mind you, it was this transmission that gave me my one and only concern during my test drive: at low speed, uphill, the tranny kept hunting between first and second, back and forth, till I hit the accelerator.

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