The 2011 Infiniti QX56 is better than the first-generation QX56 in many ways, so much so that it begins to flirt with the concept of diminishing returns. At what point does better stop being better?

The power output is better. The 2011 QX56 produces 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque from its 5.6-liter engine, 80 more horsepower and 20 more pound-feet than its predecessor, with equal displacement. As a result, performance is unsurprisingly better. Routed to all four wheels through a seven-speed automatic gearbox, all that power is good for a zero-to-60 sprint of just 6.1 seconds, and a standing quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds at 93.9 mph, again besting the last model. Not bad for a vehicle that weighs 5850 pounds. That's also better than its predecessor, which was 100 pounds heavier.

Efficiency is better too, with the EPA estimating the QX56 will return 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway, 2 mpg better in town than the last model. Unladed, the QX56 will stop from 60 mph in a respectable 130 feet, 5 feet shorter than before. Towing capacity, though, has mysteriously shrunk by 500 pounds to 8500 pounds, likely owing to the car's new platform, which it shares with the Nissan Patrol elsewhere in the world.

In fact, in terms of objective performance testing, the only aspect in which the new QX56 failed to eclipse to old model was on the skid pad. Despite a fancy hydraulic fluid system that replaces the typical anti-roll bars as part of the Deluxe Touring Package, the new model could manage only 0.71 average g around the skid pad, falling just short of the old model's 0.74 average g. To Infiniti's credit, the body roll was well-controlled, even if it didn't translate to actual grip numbers.

There's no denying that in terms of raw numbers, the new QX56 is an improvement, but to what end? At its core, the QX56 is still a rather plebian SUV dressed in the king's clothes. But where the Nissan Patrol has earned a reputation as a rugged off-roader, the QX56 is best known as a status symbol, and that shows no signs of changing.