Louisville — So, let me start by getting this off my chest first about the new Infiniti QX: I don’t care for the side portals.
Yeah, I know − typically it’s customary to ease into discussing things that you dislike about a vehicle when doing a review. But the vents bother me that much.
I think it’s in large part because the all-new 2011 QX’s exterior design has so much classic appeal otherwise.
The side profile, Infiniti’s signature grille, the rear spoiler extending from the roof, give the new SUV a sporty yet very luxurious look.
Everything about the new design of the new QX says “yeah, keeper” gives − a lot like those old school Land Cruisers and Land Rovers, except for the portals.
I imagine Infiniti designers were thinking that with so many other carmakers incorporating the side vents into their designs, it made sense to follow the trend. Likely a push for more “bling” factor. After all, the vents seem to work on the FX crossover.
Trouble is, Infiniti’s not a “follow the trend” kinda company, which is why it’s had so much success in carving out a niche in the luxury car market. And the portals on the FX work because they’re not as intrusive to the overall design. Although, I don’t think Infiniti needs them on that vehicle either. After all, the side portals are an accessory that you buy at a local auto parts store and paste on any make or model vehicle, which hardly represents the Infiniti brand.
One of the saving graces for the vents on the new QX is that Infiniti claims the one on the driver’s side is functional in that it provides cold air intake, with the one on the passenger being added for aesthetic balance.
Not that I have a real understanding of how the one on the driver’s side really does anything to improve the vehicle’s performance capabilities.
OK, I’m done discussing the side vents because even with my issues with the portals there’s so much more to like about the new QX as a premium luxury SUV.
Namely, it’s such a sharp departure from the previous generation QX, which looked and felt a lot like its Nissan sibling — the Pathfinder Armada. In fact, the previous generation QX is essentially a Pathfinder Armada rebadged as an Infiniti with a few more luxury amenities.
With the new QX, Infiniti set out to push the envelope of the design of the SUV. Features like standard 20-inch and available 22-inch wheels accent the QX’s road presence along with a palette of six distinctive exterior colors.
Infiniti also amped up the luxury amenities in the new QX for a more premium feel with additional comfort features such as with wider seats, cool seats, and individual heated rear seats.
The SUV is also available with heated second row seating while a split bench seat package replaces the standard 2nd row captain’s chairs and center console with a 3-passenger bench seat with 60/40-split folding in the new model.
Infiniti engineers even managed to squeeze more room in that often dreaded third row seating in SUVs with a power tilt that provides more leg room. The design of the back of the second row seat also provides for additional leg room in the third room.
Technology features include an 8-inch touch-screen display, Infiniti Controller for use with vehicle information systems and comfort and convenience features, Bose 13-speaker premium audio system, Infiniti’s hard drive navigation system, and Infiniti’s “Around View Monitor” that provides a bird’s eye view of the vehicle.
There’s also an available theater package that features dual 7-inch color monitors, two pairs of wireless headphones, wireless remote control, auxiliary inputs and a 120V power outlet.
The idea, notes Infiniti, was to design an interior to give the driver and passengers the feel of sitting in a premium jet.
Even better, you don’t have to give up that durability we’ve always loved about SUVs for the luxurious feel. Although you won’t hear Infiniti discuss it much, the new QX is structurally based on the Nissan Patrol, which is highly recognized oversees for its off-road capabilities.
Available in a rear-wheel drive and four-wheel-drive, the new QX features a much stiffer frame structure that translates into a much firmer ride when driving on twisty roads.
All QX models also include hill start assist, which keeps the SUV stationary for a few seconds, making it easy to switch from the brake pedal to the accelerator on steep inclines.
A new hydraulic body motion control system, available on both 2WD and 4WD models as part of the Deluxe Touring Package, helps to noticeably reduce body lean in turns.
Wind noise is practically non-existent in the cabinet and the new QX handles much smaller and nimbler than its size.
The QX is powered by a new 5.6-liter V8 rated at 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque, compared with 320 horsepower and 393 lb-ft of torque produced by the 2010 QX’s V8.
Gas mileage has improved on the 2011 model as well with an 18 percent increase (highway) to 14 mpg city, 20 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined for both the QX56 2WD and 4WD models.
The Technology Package offers features like Infiniti’s Intelligent Brake Assist system with Forward Collision Warning, which senses when the vehicle is too close to another vehicle in front of it and assists in braking and Blind Spot Warning (BSW).
Price? Same as the previous model – $56,700 (2WD) to $59,800 (4WD) before tacking on the options. Personally, I’d account for another grand or so to paint those side portals to temper them down a bit.
Yeah, I know − I said I was done discussing the vents, but they’re just hard to ignore.
Marcus Amick is a national automotive consultant and analyst. He can be contacted at Marcus@WheelSide.com.
Sticker: $56,700 (base)
MPG: 14 city/20 hwy
Bose Premium Audio System
Available 22-Inch Wheels