Its exterior design is more aerodynamic and distinctive than its boxier, body-on-frame competitors, like the Lexus LX 570 and Lincoln Navigator; and a new gas direct-injection 5.6-liter DOHC V-8, based on the FX50's 5.0, makes 80 more horses than the old 5.6. With a seven-speed automatic, city fuel mileage is up 2 mpg. Whether you get RWD or 4WD, that's still just 14 mpg. And even the new engine has a lot of inertia to overcome up to about 40 mph. Like all such large SUVs, launches don't exactly trigger nosebleeds.

Steering is pretty numb and almost pinky-light. With its advanced electronic gizmos and plush spaciousness (Infiniti claims best-in-class second-row legroom), this is an SUV designed for passengers, not drivers. Lane-departure warning keeps the driver alert, though as the QX56's tall, wide body and swoopy FX-like hood, tends to trigger the audible alarm way too often on narrow lanes.

If you tow something heavy, though, the QX56 might be the ticket. It's rated 8500 pounds, whether you choose 4WD or RWD.

Nissan has phased out the Armada on which the old model was based and moved QX production to Japan alongside its Nissan Patrol platform sibling. It's a business plan that could overcome any disappointment in the segment's health. Incremental sales and a high profit margin should be all the new Infiniti QX56 needs.

2011 Infiniti Qx56
Base price range $57,650-$60,750
Layout Front engine, RWD/4WD, 6- or 7-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 5.6L/400-hp/413-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8
Transmission 7-speed automatic
Wheelbase 121.1 in
Length x width x height 208.3 x 79.9 x 75.8 in
Curb weight 5600-5850 lb (mfr)
GVWR 7300-7500 lb
Max payload capacity 1650-1700 lb
Max towing capacity 8500 lb
0-60 mph 6.1 sec
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 14/20 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.20 lb/mile (est)
On sale in U.S. Currently