2012 Infiniti QX56: floats like a butterfly, tows like a beast

2012 infiniti qx56 towing boat tige 22ve
2012 Infiniti QX56 with Tige 22Ve Rider’s Edition in tow

Much like the great Muhammad Ali, the 2012 Infiniti QX56 4WD remains light on its “feet” while at the same time delivering impressive luxury, road presence, off-road prowess, and towing capability.

The QX56 luxury is evident the moment you approach it with the key fob in your pocket.  The side mirror marker lights turn on to welcome you, the door opens and closes with a distinguished thud, and once you are inside you are surrounded by well designed and crafted selection of leather, wood, and metal trimmings.  The heated leather and wood steering wheel feels great to the touch and highlights the luxurious character.

This Infiniti has a strongly polarizing styling.  I like that it’s not afraid to be different and a little weird.  However, it does look better when it’s working, like towing this boat.  When you see the QX56 on its own, it’s difficult to understand how big and tall it really is.  I parked it next to TFLcar Project Pickup and the QX56 looked wider and taller.  The 22 inch factory wheels and tires simply dwarfed Silverado’s 17 inchers and 31 inch tall tires.  With all that said, my four year old daughter had absolutely no problem getting in and out.  When she first saw the handy running boards, she said “this car has stairs!” and proceeded to go up and down them a few times.  I also have to mention that Nissan/Infiniti vehicles have the easiest to reach child seat LATCH anchors.  Nicely done!2012 infiniti qx56 rear

This huge SUV has a tendency to shrink around you on a twisty road.  The handling and braking capabilities inspire confidence, and I found myself going plenty fast down and braking deep into corners.  The engineers did a great job with the Hydraulic Body Motion Control suspension system.  Although, nothing can stop this nearly 3 tonne machine from leaning into corners at least some.  The 400 hp V8 sounds sophisticated at partial load.  It’s just loud enough to let you know it’s there, but not overly loud.  And it sounds very powerful at full throttle.  Dare I say it?  This behemoth has a sporty character.

Full disclosure: this is my boat that you see in this video and images.  I have many years of experience towing this and other boats using SUVs and full size trucks.  And I have to say that the QX did very well at handling the task of pulling this Tige 22Ve.  This truck is a very good towing vehicle.  First, the Hydraulic suspension leveled the truck once it realized the trailer was hooked up.  It’s very important to have a level tow vehicle and trailer for all systems to operate correctly and optimally.

I do however have a couple nits to pick.  The Around View Monitor (bird’s eye view) is infinitely helpful at lining up the hitch with the trailer.  However, the backup camera is offset to one side of the rear hatch, and when the time comes to backup the final view inches the angled perspective made the depth perception a little distorted.  I think this is something that can get much easier once you get used to it.  Once under way, I noticed that the Blind Spot Warning lights were flickering from time to time.  It seemed like the system was confused and kept trying to tell me “there is something right behind you!”  This got distracting after a while and I turned the Blind Spot Warning off.  Also, the aerodynamically shaped side mirrors were not quite wide enough to allow me see around the very wide boat trailer.  Mirror extensions are a very good idea if you have a wide trailer like this.

The QX56 competes in a crowded segment.  As you can see from the table below, it fairs well when compared to the big boys from Toyota, GM, and Mercedes-Benz.  It’s got the power to back up it’s luxurious status.  The nifty 7-speed transmission allows the Infiniti to claim the best MPG numbers in the class.  I averaged 15.5 MPG during my week of mixed driving.  I did notice that the QX56 feels very well at home cruising at 75 mph down the interstate.  When the transmission is in 7th gear, the engine is turning just 1,750 rpm at 75 mph, and the instant MPG meter displays numbers in the mid 20s.

Power (hp/ft-lbs) Economy (city/hwy) Max Towing (lbs) Rear Legroom (in) Starts at MSRP
2012 Infiniti QX56 400 / 413 14 / 20 8,500 41 $63,100
2013 Lexus LX570 383 / 403 12 / 17 7,000 34.4 $81,230
2013 Toyota LandCruiser 381 / 401 13 / 18 8,500 36 $78,255
2012 Cadillac Escalade ESV 403 / 417 13 / 18 7,700 39.5 $68,320
2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450 362 / 406 14 / 19 7,500 38.5 $62,400

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give it a Buy it!  If you like the styling and have the means to afford the $75,340 MSRP of the fully loaded model, then the decision is very simple.  This is a very comfortable and capable vehicle that feels at home on road, off road, and with a trailer in tow.

The 2013 QX56 model is just around the corner.  It receives mostly software based upgrades for 2013 model year.  It adds the new Moving Object Detection to the already impressive Around View Monitor.  And the Theater packages gets a new remote and improved user interface.  If I had a magic wand, I would love to see a full roof sun-roof, height adjustable suspension, and a more straight forward third row folding mechanism (current power fold is way too slow).


Andre SmirnovAndre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, writer, and software engineer. On the weekends – you may find him at a car show, an auction, watching a race, or tinkering with a car in the garage. When not working or spending time with the family – he often scours the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.