A long weekend with the QX56 didn't help. Once you get past the sheer size of the thing, you start to wonder how it could only be 1.4 inches longer, 2.9 inches taller, and 0.4 inches wider than the last one. It towers over most anything else on the road and is just about guaranteed to make your Mercedes ML-driving neighbor feel inadequate. You quickly grow to appreciate Infiniti's superb Around View 360-degree parking cameras. If the sun-blocking size didn't get everyone's attention, the odd, bulgy styling, dollar store side grilles, and gargantuan 22-inch wheels finish the job. Seriously. 22 inches, stock.
And to what end? Not aerodynamics, though there's only so much you can do with a very large box. The EPA's claims to the contrary, 800 miles of open freeway netted just 16 mpg on average with the adaptive cruise control set at 70 mph. Given its girth, it would be excusable if not for a pair of instruments that won't let you forget how fast you're burning through your tank. In just 15 miles, the needle on the gas gauge is starting to move off the full mark. By 25 miles, it's completely off.
If this isn't enough to give your wallet a coronary, the calculated range feature will push it over the edge. Estimating anywhere from 360 to 410 miles on a full tank, the computer's eternal optimism starts to come off as mockery. After burning through a quarter of a tank, the range has only dropped an unrealistic 15 miles. It catches up with reality somewhere around the 3/8s mark, and our best observed range was just 330 miles running it into the red.
When you're not suffering from range anxiety, you'll notice that QX56 isn't a bad place to spend time. It's cavernous inside and is loaded with every feature you can think of, from a wireless rear-seat DVD system to heated seats in the first two rows to power-folding third-row seats to second-row seats you can fold and tumble from the front seat with the push of a button. Infiniti's new navigation and infotainment system features a much-improved user interface, though some menus such as the Bluetooth system are hard to find. Overall though, the new dash and center stack are a clean design and pretty user-friendly.