With a comfortable ride, cushy leather seats and, of course, a 400-horsepower V-8 engine, our 2011 Infiniti QX56 long-termer easily qualifies as one of the best roadtripping vehicles in the luxury SUV class. What keeps the QX56 from excelling here is, quite simply, poor range. It's not that the huge Infiniti's 26.0-gallon fuel tank is particularly small nor that its fuel economy ratings are bad, but the combination of the two performance metrics leads to more frequent trips to the gas station than we'd like.

Some will argue that full-size luxury SUV buyers would rather have 22-inch wheels than 22 mpg, but if it's our $71,850 we're spending on an over-the-top premium-brand people-hauler, we want both. The four-wheel-drive 2011 Infiniti QX56 is rated 14/20 mpg city/highway, and 16 mpg combined -- actually better than the four-wheel-drive versions of the Cadillac Escalade ESV, Lincoln Navigator, as well as the Mercedes-Benz GL450 and GL550.

That's a good start, but unfortunately Infiniti only offers one admittedly great 400-horsepower V-8 engine in the U.S. Drivers can expect about 300 miles between fillups provided there's more highway driving than stop-and-go traffic slogging. If Cadillac can offer an Escalade Hybrid and Mercedes-Benz a diesel-powered GL -- each with far superior range than the Infiniti -- why not offer the option of a V-6 or V-8 diesel on the QX56? Whether increased range is accomplished through better efficiency or a larger fuel tank doesn't matter to me, but I want to have my cake and eat it too when it comes to V-8 luxury SUVs, and can't imagine a better vehicle to absorb U.S. market diesel certification costs than the already pricey QX56.

Recently, Motor Trend's assistant art director William Walker borrowed the QX56 for a road trip from Los Angeles to Seattle. For the most part, Walker's impressions were positive: "After putting close to 3000 miles on it, I would say it's one of the best long-distance vehicles I have ever driven. The adaptive cruise control makes long multi hour stints pretty easy, although the responsiveness of the system could be faster and smoother. The seats are very comfortable and the heating and cooling seats kept everyone's bums comfy."

About those ventilated front seats, we'd love Infiniti to redesign the controls when it's time for a QX56 refresh. While the two rotating dial controls feel solid, they're positioned low on the center stack and it's difficult to discern when they're on. While we're on the subject of seats, if Infiniti is serious about disrupting sales for the Mercedes-Benz GL and Cadillac Escalade, we love to see a driver's seat with some type of massaging function. From a price and size standpoint, the QX56 is functioning as Infiniti's flagship model -- make the most of it with as many surprise-and-delight features as possible. Families who don't want Infiniti's ultimate and most luxurious SUV can always consider the brand's new seven-passenger JX crossover.


Our Car
Months/Miles in service 12/30,045
Avg econ/CO2 15.3 mpg/1.27 lb/mi Energy cons 220 kW-hr/100 mi Unresolved problems None
Energy cons 220 kW-hr/100 mi
Unresolved problems None
Maintenance cost $686.19
Normal-wear cost $0