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2011 Infiniti QX56: Ready for acceptance

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh  April 2, 2010 03:06 PM

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(All photos: Clifford Atiyeh/Boston.com Staff)

NEW YORK— After 13 years of rebadged Nissan SUVs, Infiniti took a refreshing turn Wednesday with the 2011 QX56, the second generation of the luxury brand's forgotten full-size SUV.

Unlike its groundbreaking and popular FX crossover, Infiniti hasn't understood the finesse behind the traditional SUV segment. Their two efforts in the past 13 years — the Pathfinder-based QX4 from 1997 to 2003, and the first Armada-based QX56 in 2004 — didn't try to hide the more ordinary Nissans underneath. Buyers who wanted status and size have paid attention to Escalades, Range Rovers, Mercedes GLs, and Toyota's famous Land Cruiser.

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At their stand at the New York International Auto Show, Infiniti hired Cirque du Soleil performers to contort their bodies around the covered QX56, and through the sunroof of the new M sedan nearby. The sheetmetal on the 2011 QX56 also curves uncomfortably in some places, like the back hatch and bubbling hood, a disconnect from the squarish side profile. Fake front fender vents, like those on Buicks, add to the kinks.

The 5.6-liter V-8 engine boosts fuel economy 10 percent and delivers 80 more horsepower for a total of 400. A new active suspension helps the big Q stay flat on hard turns. Like most new Infinitis, the interior is a fine place to relax and receives a thorough dashboard upgrade with standard navigation and Bose audio.

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Pricing remains unchanged at $56,700 for the two-wheel-drive model, but towing capacity dips from 8,900 pounds to 8,500. All that's missing, for now anyway, is public acceptance.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
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AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
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Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on About.com. He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
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