Looking at this steel 5800 pound full size SUV, you could think that this is another vehicle that drives like a truck, handles like a tractor trailer, and is difficult to drive. But you would be wrong! The 2011 Infiniti QX separates itself from its previous model and others in its class through a new exterior design and an interior that rivals most of its competitors. Starting with the stroke of a brush on the drawing board, the designers at Infiniti set out to create a modern, inviting, luxurious piece of art that “inspires performance.” Committing to this direction, Infiniti became the Official Global Partner with Cirque Du Soleil and was the Official Corporate Partner of the 2010 NCAA Division 1 Basketball Championship. The Infiniti QX was launched in Louisville Kentucky at 21C (21st Century), one of six unique modern art museum/hotels in the world. It was a perfect fit for the mindset of this luxury auto company as “inspired performance” has now been brought to life.
In previous years the platform of the Infiniti QX was shared with the Nissan Armada. The new QX will be based on the Nissan Patrol platform, a vehicle not imported into the United States. The exterior of the vehicle may look “tank-like,” but a closer look reveals inspired design throughout this artistic creation.
Front and center is the prominent, chromed, double arched grille enabling large amounts of air to reach the engine. Catching your eye to either side of the grille sit low positioned, swept back, detailed bi-xenon headlamps. Like a piece of art, your eyes will flow with the vehicles exterior lines around the front and down, arriving at additional fog lamps built into the lower bumper. Ultimately the cars lines take you back up top to the QX’ wave like designed hood. Following the smooth crafted exterior, it reroutes you down the side of the car to the side mirrors with integrated turn signals that have been redesigned to reduce wind noise. Depending on the side of the SUV your eyes take you, the side vent may either be an air intake (driver side) or heat dissipation vent (passenger side) to feed or cool the QX’ new 5.6-liter, V8 engine.
Infiniti sought more performance for their new QX and reworked the same engine used in Infiniti’s M line up. Specifically tuning it for the QX, better results in engine performance were obtained. The 2011 QX receives 25% more power than before giving an additional 80 horsepower (400 at 5800 rpm), and 20 more pound-feet of torque (413 at 4000 rpm). This improvement also translates into better fuel economy. With a 14% improvement, Infiniti’s latest masterpiece gets 14 mpg in the city (2 mpg improvement), and 20 mpg on the highway (an improvement of 2 in the 2WD model, 3-4 in the 4WD model). Controlled by an automatic 7-speed with manual shift mode, it has Adaptive Shift Control and Downshift Rev Matching technology for when you need a quick burst of speed or hauling a trailer. For enthusiasts that like working with other “mediums” and not the usual, Infiniti does share reliable diesel powertrains with Mercedes. No hybrid plans are set as of yet, but corporate is thinking about it for the future.
Taking a step back from a sculpture or canvas enables the viewer to see pieces of the work you may not notice up close. Viewing the Infiniti QX is nothing different. From a few steps back we continue to let our eyes follow the flow and lines of the car. Soon our eyes can’t help notice the large wheels that stand out making a statement on their own. Standard wheels are 20 inches, but bigger 22 inch wheels are available for those wanting a more impressive stance.
Making our way around to the back, we see that this clearly isn’t the QX’ best side. No particular design cue stands out or grabs our attention. The rear hatch leading to the back cargo area raises up and down by remote or with the push of a button.
With inspiration from the inside of an executive jet, the comfort and ride of the QX interior is very quiet and smooth. Looking back at the driver are brightly lit dials, similar to the Infiniti M lineup, communicating the status of the vehicle. In the center of the dash sits an 8-inch touch screen that lets you manipulate the heat, air, radio (including XM Satellite Radio with NAVWeather feature), and navigation. I played with the weather portion a bit and could see the incoming weather fronts approach us. I was impressed and can definitely come in handy on long trips. Giving a touch of executive feel to the front seat area is a wood accent that presents itself beautifully on the dash and middle console.
Supporting your back and beneath your legs are firm, plush leather seats with Infiniti embroidered logos. Being heated and cooled and offering lumbar support with the ability to move a variety of ways (10 way driver/ 8 way passenger), you can get your seating position just right for your executive ride. Wide armrests on both the door and inboard side of the seat give your arms significant comfortable support.
Second row seating offers a heated option and comes with a rear center console giving ample compartment space to hold gaming consoles, headphones, and remotes. Incorporate the available under seat lighting, and a posh ambiance takes over in the second row. One of my favorite features of the QX is the ease of manipulating the second row seats to access the third row. Separated in a 60/40 split, the push of a button on the front dash, or manipulating the handle on the top of the seat automatically folds the seat flat and then flips it providing spacious room to get by. The only problem I found was if the seat is already flat and you want to completely flip it up, you have to put the seat back to the up position and then fold it flat again to then turn it on end. One should just be able to flip it on end from being flat. Nonetheless, I found that accessing the third row through either back door was very easy.
From the third row, I enjoyed the installed theatre package which includes a 7-inch color monitor in the back of the drivers and passenger headrests, and tri-zone climate control within the vehicle (each row has overhead vents for them), I was in the zone. For those times when big objects need to be hauled in the back of the QX, the third row also can be folded down flat with a push of a button in a 60/ 40 split to obtain more space.
Another essential part to complete your executive interior is the sound system. The Bose audio system provides 13 speakers of premium sound, including 2 subwoofers. You can play the music of your choice through AM/FM radio, MP3, XM Satellite radio, CD/DVD, the in dash 9.3 GB hard drive, iPod or other compatible devices. When I asked the Bose representative how many watts the system had, I was told to listen to the sound and not worry about the watts. I thought the sound system was one of the better ones I have listened to.
Safety is the last essential part to keep our precious art from getting damaged. Advanced safety technology keeps passengers out of harms way. The 2011 QX uses the LDW (Lane Departure Warning) and LDP (Lane Departure Prevention) systems letting you know when you are approaching the roads center line. If the car senses you are about to cross it, the vehicle on its own gently applies brakes and eases you back into your lane. BSW (Blind Spot Warning) indicators just inside the side mirrors illuminate letting you know an object or vehicle is in your blind spot, Hill Start Assist eliminates roll back on inclines and many other systems are offered to help regulate your speed accordingly to traffic around you and to let you avoid danger. Inside, the QX has an advanced airbag system with front, side impact, and roof mounted standard airbags with front pre-crash seatbelts, restraints for all passengers and a LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system for young ones in their car seats. Lastly, for those needing help parking, front and back up sensors are incorporated with the Around View Monitoring System. Using small cameras on every side, a 360 degree bird’s eye view shows on your dash mounted 8” color touch screen display, letting you see everything around you.
Beautiful art pieces can be expensive, and this is where the QX differs. The 2011 Infiniti QX is affordable for the connoisseur who wants to add to their “art” collection or begin one. In fact, the pricing has not changed from the 2010. A 2-wheel drive QX starts at $56,200, and the 4-wheel drive model begins at $59,000. The 4-wheel drive option of the vehicle isn’t meant for serious off-roading, but it does make this on-road vehicle handle better when towing loads up to 8,500 pounds or when driving in bad weather and on something other than asphalt.
As the Renaissance era brought about a revival of learning, perspective, and educational reform, Infiniti has found a way to do the same for the SUV. Gone are the old ideologies and ways that we think an SUV should be. The 2011 Infiniti QX is a full size SUV that rides and handles like a luxury car, is quieter with executive amenities on the inside, and is available for a price comparable to others in its class. The mold has been broken and consumers can expect full size SUV’s in a whole new way.