2008 Infiniti QX56


$9,356 - $10,147

2008 Infiniti QX56 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2008 Infiniti QX56 was new.


Performance: 7.9

Our analysis shows the 2008 Infiniti QX56 is a powerful SUV that moves well for its size. The Chicago Sun-Times says the QX56 "has remarkably good steering, handling and braking for such a big fella."

Kelley Blue Book says, "On the road the big Infiniti is surprisingly agile and easy to maneuver," while "the V8 provides plenty of pickup, with instantaneous response from the drive-by-wire throttle and a nice throaty growl from the specially-tuned exhaust."

The QX56 comes with a 5.6-liter V8 matched with an automatic five-speed transmission. "Around town," Edmunds says the QX56 "moves out briskly and effortlessly storms up freeway on-ramps to blend into fast-moving traffic." Once up to speed, the "QX56 can really eat up the miles on the highway," according to About.com, "with a smooth, quiet, comfortable ride that is positively limo-like."

What impresses reviewers most is the QX56's balance of power and finesse. The Infiniti QX56 is available either with rear- or all-wheel drive. The Car Connection argues, "It's strictly a choice of convenience since there's little difference in how the two perform on-road. But that likely won't stop a lot of buyers who really don't need all-wheel drive from paying the extra freight for it."

Acceleration and Power

Most reviewers agree that the Infiniti QX56 delivers impressive power and good acceleration. Consumer Guide reports, "It's no neck-snapper, but getaways and passing sprints are reasonably brisk for a big, heavy SUV." Edmunds calls the engine "powerful and refined," adding that it is "quick for a full-size SUV." The 5.6-liter V8 engine makes 320 horsepower and 393 lb-ft of torque, and is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. Motor Trend says, "Off-the-line acceleration is impressive." New Car Test Drive agrees that "acceleration performance is strong," but deems it "less than sparkling," explaining that the "reason for this is weight: An Infiniti QX56 AWD tips the scales at 5,631 pounds." Overall, however, reviewers find the QX56 more than powerful enough for practical purposes.

The automatic five-speed is well-liked. Edmunds finds it "provides seamless gear changes and steps down promptly when a burst of power is needed for quick passing." Similarly, MSN reports, "Shifts with the five-speed automatic transmission were smooth." CNET points out a key feature, "A staggered-gate shifter for the five-speed automatic means you can easily choose a gear and hold it when needed."

Not surprisingly, fuel economy of the QX56 is poor. The Chicago Sun-Times explains, "As with all such big guys, fuel economy of the QX56 is something not to be discussed in polite company." The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the 2WD model to get 12 miles per gallon in the city and 18 mpg on the highway. The 4WD should get 12/17 city/highway. But along with this typical SUV drawback is a common SUV benefit: the ability to maintain composure off the asphalt. New Car Test Drive says the QX56 "offers serious off-road capability." About.com likes the transmission's "4-wheel low mode," but counsels, "Keep it on the road, though -- this is too nice of an SUV to be dirt-whomping."

Handling and Braking

For a big, heavy SUV, the QX56 handles impressively. With "double wishbone fully-independent suspension at both ends, and standard traction and stability control, the mammoth Infiniti is firmly planted and surprisingly nimble," Motor Week says. Nevertheless, a big, heavy SUV is what the QX56 is. Edmunds says, "Body lean is noticeable when cornering, but it's nothing excessive -- just a reminder to the driver that in spite of the QX56's sure-footed handling, there are still almost 3 tons worth of luxury sport-ute getting tossed around." Others are harsher.  Consumer Guide calls the handling "Big-truck ponderous, especially in close quarters."

At cruising speed, reports AutoMedia.com, the ride is "closer to luxurious and more compliant than it is to firm and sporty." Kelley Blue Book says the steering is "heavy yet direct, but Consumer Guide reports "some of our testers say the steering lacks sharp on-center feel."

Iimpressions are mixed when it comes to braking. The Car Connection argues, "The QX56's brakes are instantly responsive and nicely progressive." Motor Week finds stopping distances "reasonable" and claims, "Stability is rock solid with only mild nose dive." AutoWeek, conversely, reports, "The brakes tended to fade quickly during testing -- and we're not talking brake testing. They started to smoke at the end of our acceleration runs and required extensive cool-down periods, after which the space required to stop the vehicle continued to grow."

All-Wheel Drive

The QX56's optional all-wheel drive system "can handle most rough terrains," says Forbes Autos, "whether you find yourself there by accident or on purpose." New Car Test Drive explains how it works: "Under normal driving conditions, the system operates in rear-wheel-drive mode for optimum fuel economy. But when conditions warrant, up to 50 percent of the power is transferred to the front wheels on demand, resulting in optimum traction." When this happens, reports AutoMedia.com, "the grip changes imperceptibly in milliseconds." The Car Connection compares the all- and rear-wheel versions and decides, "There's little difference in how the two perform on-road."


Among its closest competitors, notes Car and Driver, the QX56 is the only one "to have a low range in its four-wheel drive, and its 8900-pound towing capacity tops the rankings." The San Antonio Express-News points out, "The suspension has an automatic-leveling feature, which comes in handy with a heavy trailer attached." A receiver hitch and harness come standard. Even the engine is tuned for optimal towing. New Car Test Drive explains, "Towing demands high torque at low rpm and that's where the Infiniti's power is concentrated."

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