Most of the time, bigger is better--at least that's what Infiniti wants you to believe with the 2004 QX56. Based on Nissan's Pathfinder Armada, the new rear- and four-wheel-drive QX retains a good portion of Armada's bodywork, except for the wheel-arch moldings and the area from the A-pillar forward. The simple waterfall grille, large Xenon headlamps, and bulbous fascia help refine the quirky design. We're torn on the split roof rack, rated to carry 200 pounds.
The QX56 shares the Armada's 5.6-liter DOHC V-8 and five-speed automatic transmission, but engine compression is bumped from 9.8:1 to 10.0:1, boosting power output to 315 horses and 390 pound-feet of torque--10 additional ponies and five additional pound-feet of twist. Off-line 0-to-30-mph acceleration is inspiring, and we're especially impressed with the 30-to-50-mph passing power, which will truly be appreciated when towing.
Infiniti engineers lowered the shock rates while upping the springs (using the same underpinnings as Armada) and added a rear air-leveling suspension to give the new QX a more compliant luxury ride. On pockmarked roads, we never found the ride harsh and were impressed with how quickly the suspension adjusted to road changes. Carrying a towing capacity of 8900 pounds and tongue weight of 890, QX56 numbers--not surprisingly--are slightly lower than the Armada's.
Inside, NVH is also impressive, thanks to triple seals, thicker glass, and added soundproofing materials. Both front- and second-row bucket seats are heated and well-sculpted. Like the Armada, we like the best-in-class second-row legroom, at 41.9 inches. Inside, there's liberal use of wood and aluminum trim on the center console and door panels, and the leather is of fine quality. But for 50 large, we wish there was less polymer in the interior.
Fold down the hideaway third-row seats, and the Q's flat floor easily holds 56.7 cubic feet of Nordstrom parcels, and the power liftgate is a nice touch when accessing the cargo area in sour weather.