The Good: Immense interior; parking-assistance technology; impressive engine; drives smaller than it looks. The Bad: Immense exterior exacerbated by look-at-me styling; predictable thirst; small nav-control joystick. The Bottom Line: Surprisingly drivable for such a huge vehicle, the Infiniti QX56 includes essential technology, but filling its 28-gallon tank will hurt. 2005 Infiniti QX56The 2005 Infiniti QX56 exhibits the quintessential Infiniti trait of forcing buyers to accept its looks before they're rewarded with what's generally a quality vehicle underneath. The QX56's styling certainly isn't for everyone, but those drawn to the outr\u00e9 appearance will like the rest of what they find. Three-row seating with power everything, a commanding view including the navigation system's sharp 7-inch monitor, and access to reserves of power and torque greet the driver. The rest of the crew is also treated well, with leather seating throughout, plenty of room and overhead storage, and the requisite abundance of cup holders. Technology abounds in vehicle systems, as well as convenience and entertainment options. Available Bluetooth, GPS navigation, a rear-facing camera, and park assist make the driving easier; stability control, a self-leveling independent rear suspension, a five-speed automatic, and an all-aluminum 32-valve V-8 make the driving better.It seems unlikely that rappers will begin to opt for the $48,630 (as tested) 2005 Infiniti QX56 instead of similarly priced (pre-bling) Escalades, but families preferring the Infiniti's statement might find it worth a small premium compared with full-size domestic competitors.The climb into the 2005 Infiniti QX56, helped by standard running boards, serves as a reminder that you're entering a very large--and large-looking--vehicle. But once you're inside, the welcome space and full array of creature comforts make the outside world a distant memory. Our test car included the second-row split-bench package, a no-cost option replacing the standard two captain's chairs and console, making comfortable leather-clad seating available for eight. The driver seat is 10-way power adjustable (8-way for the passenger), and power adjustment with memory also tilts the steering wheel and moves the pedals up and back, a very nice feature for the more petite soccer mom. Both front seats and the outside second-row seats are heated. The backup camera offering a fish-eye view of a CNET staffer.Real wood and aluminum offset the 2005 Infiniti QX56's dark leather nicely. Quality carpeting covers the floors and cargo area, including the fold-flat backs of the second- and third-row seats. A rear-overhead and front-console DVD entertainment system is part of a $1,600 entertainment-system package that also requires the sunroof package, but our test car was fitted with neither. Instead, an almost ridiculous number of fold-down storage bins line the center of the headliner, which also houses the separate rear-seat climate controls. Four outlets for 12-volt power are located usefully throughout the cabin.The list of high-tech options goes on to include an intelligent cruise-control system, which our test car didn't feature, as well as a rear-facing camera and rear proximity sensors for assistance with reversing, which our car did have. Regardless of one's parallel-parking proficiency, these tech aids are necessary, given the 2005 Infiniti QX56's rear overhang, especially with the towing package under the rear bumper. In another nod to this SUV's potential for dwarfing smaller drivers, the big rear liftgate is power-operated for opening and closing, and the rear glass opens separately for quickly loading smaller items.Touch a button on the key fob, and the massive liftgate opens.Either flavor of satellite radio is offered on the 2005 Infiniti QX56 (subscriptions extra), played through a nice 10-speaker, 265-watt, Bose six-CD stereo with a 7-inch subwoofer under the driver seat. Our test car lacked Bluetooth phone integration, but it will be standard on the 2006 models. The GPS system worked well both in the city and in rural Sonoma County. The usual Nissan\/Infiniti navigation interface is relatively simple, but its stubby joystick\/button can be difficult to press straight inward without moving it sideways and changing your selection.In terms of making the 2005 Infiniti QX56 more drivable, the comfort of the cabin is actually second to the nature of the beast, as it were. The robust 5.6-liter V-8 churns out sufficient power--315hp at 4,900rpm--to move the QX56's 5,360 pounds from rest to 60mph in just more than 7 seconds, quickly enough to make it seem lighter than its bulk. Aluminum-alloy construction and dual overhead cams working four valves per cylinder make the engine a free-breathing delight, and its decidedly throaty exhaust note will probably please most buyers. A staggered-gate shifter for the five-speed automatic means you can easily choose a gear and hold it when needed, as when taking advantage of the QX56's maximum 9,000-pound towing capacity. The engine's power and 390 pound-feet of torque are kept useful by Infiniti's vehicle dynamic-control (VDC) and traction-control systems, which can both brake spinning wheels and reduce engine output to regain traction. The braking system of the 2005 Infiniti QX56 was the unpopular subject of early owners-forum complaints, many requiring complete replacement with upgraded equipment before performing properly. Our car, with slightly less than 10,000 miles on the odometer, exhibited no untoward braking behavior, although we don't know its service history.The trip computer shows real-time fuel consumption via the bar gauge on the right.Handling is again commendably delusional: Independent suspension all around, with front and rear stabilizer bars, and surprisingly responsive steering allow a driving manner probably not befitting the, ahem, carriage of the 2005 Infiniti QX56. And naturally, the tall tires start to squeal at the first hint of push. Driven more sedately, the QX56 doesn't cause problems around town and makes a capable highway cruiser, the driver's arms supported by a fold-down armrest on the right and the large door sill on the left.Fuel is gulped at a predictably rapid clip: 13mpg in the city and 19mpg on the highway as rated by the EPA. According to our QX56's trip computer, we averaged just more than 16mpg in four days of driving around San Francisco, including a trip to rural Sonoma County. Cruising range is kept to expected standards by way of a 28-gallon fuel tank.Technology helps when it comes to safety as well in the 2005 Infiniti QX56, with electronic brake-force distribution standard on the ABS-equipped system. Infiniti's advanced air-bag system features variable inflation rates on the dual-stage front air bags. Front seat-mounted side-impact bags are included, as well as roof-mounted side-curtain bags for all three rows of seats. A tire-pressure monitoring system is part of the onboard electronics package. The aforementioned rearview monitor and rear proximity sensors take the guesswork out of backing up and parking. Steering-wheel controls for the audio system and cruise control mean the driver can stay focused on the road, as does the navigation system's requirement that the vehicle be stopped to enter destinations or change display options.Infiniti's standard warranty coverage is four years\/60,000 miles, extending to five years\/50,000 miles for emissions control, six years\/70,000 miles on the power train, and seven years of unlimited-mileage corrosion coverage. A roadside-assistance program with trip-interruption benefits is also standard with all new Infinitis.