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One option we didn't expect was adaptive cruise control, an advanced feature befitting Infiniti. Using controls on the steering wheel, it let us set our speed and following distance. As we came up on slower traffic, the QX56 matched its speed to the car ahead, and it wasn't fooled by cars in other lanes.
Infiniti offers a solid suite of cabin electronics in its other models, including a hard-drive-based navigation system, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and iPod support. Some of this equipment makes its way into the QX56, but not all of it. It lacks the iPod integration, but, strangely, includes a slot for Compact Flash cards. Other audio sources include an MP3-compatible single-CD player, satellite radio, and 9.3 gigabytes of space on the navigation system's hard drive. This last source, called the Jukebox, turns the car into an iPod, letting you rip CDs to it, then browse through the music library by artist, album, and genre.
Music plays through a 12-speaker Bose system, which sounds pretty good. It's not a superhigh-quality system, but it is better than average. With a subwoofer and speakers for the third-row seat, this system sounded best when used to play a DVD over the car's rear-entertainment system. This optional system includes an 8- inch ceiling-mounted monitor and a DVD player in the console. The DVD player includes RCA and composite video jacks, making it possible to plug in a video game or other device. But the console lacks a pass-through, so any cables will get pinched by the console lid.
The electronics include a Bluetooth phone system with an onscreen keypad and controls mounted on the steering wheel for voice command. We had no trouble pairing it to an iPhone, and the call quality was good. This system's main drawback, and where it falls behind competitors, is its phonebook. There are only 40 contact slots, and to copy over contacts from a paired phone, you have to push them over. Some phones, such as the iPhone, don't support pushing contacts.
The last cabin tech feature, the navigation system, is hard-drive-based. We like that part, but the maps look more primitive than those in other navigation-equipped Infinitis, as if they were copied over from an earlier generation system. The resolution is rough, although we do like that it includes 2D and 3D maps. In 3D mode, the system renders certain landmark buildings in urban areas, for example, showing the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco. The maps also show traffic data, including specific incidents and flow information for major arteries.
When entering a destination, the system automatically routes round traffic problems, an important feature that makes the traffic data much more useful. We like the route guidance from this system, as it includes easy-to-read graphics showing upcoming turns and reads out the names of streets on the route.
The interface for entering destinations and controlling other cabin tech functions uses a big knob studded with directional buttons, similar to that found in other Infiniti vehicles. This is one of our favorite interfaces for cabin tech, as it's very easy to make onscreen selections quickly and accurately. But where other Infiniti cars have the knob mounted horizontally, this one sits vertically on the front of the stack. With this placement, it isn't as easy to use. There is certainly enough space within the QX56 to include a horizontal panel for the control knob.
For people with large families and the need to tow boats or other recreational equipment, the 2010 Infiniti QX56 offers potential, but its luxury doesn't quite live up to the Infiniti brand. Most of the tech in the QX56 seems a little behind the curve. Although it uses an independent suspension, the body-on-frame construction leads to rough ride quality. The engine isn't particularly advanced compared with other Infiniti power plants, and the transmission's lack of a sixth gear is a surprise, as six-speed automatics have become common. There are some good features in the cabin tech, especially the hard-drive-based navigation system, but the electronics fall short of Infiniti offerings in other cars in a few key areas. The cabin tech interface also lacks the good ergonomics found in other Infiniti models. The vehicle does look distinct, with a nice exterior design, and it will certainly number among the larger things on the road.
|Model||2010 Infiniti QX56|
|EPA fuel economy||12 mpg city/18 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||14.8 mpg|
|Navigation||Standard hard-drive-based system with traffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||Standard MP3 compatible single CD player, optional console-mounted DVD player for rear entertainment system|
|MP3 player support||n/a|
|Other digital audio||9.3 gigabytes hard-drive storage, compact flash slot, satellite radio, auxiliary input|
|Audio system||Bose 12-speaker system|
|Driver aids||Adaptive cruise control, rear view camera, sonar distance warning|
|Price as tested||$59,765|