Special Coverage

New York Int’l Auto Show

Despite speculation to the contrary, Nissan North America Inc.’s Infiniti brand’s new ’11 QX56, being unveiled today at the New York auto show, remains an SUV, with a body-on-frame, rather than a unibody, platform.

However, the design of the QX is heavily changed, with a lower-slung shape and boxier corners.

“This is still a true truck, it’s body-on-frame, it tows over 8,000 lbs. (3,629 kg),” Ben Poore, vice president-Infiniti Business Unit, said at a media event last month in San Diego. “This is a no-compromise sport-utility luxury truck.”

As its name suggests, the QX56 retains a 5.6L V-8, but like the 5.6L V-8 offered in the new M sedan, the engine now gets direct injection.

The addition of DI, plus a move to a 7-speed automatic transmission from a 5-speed in the outgoing ’10 QX, boosts horsepower and fuel economy.

The engine now makes 400 hp, up from the current model’s 320 hp, and the SUV’s fuel economy is improved more than 10%, Infiniti says. The ’10 QX was rated at 12/18 mpg (19.6-13.1 L/100 km) city/highway with 2-wheel drive.

Keeping the QX on a body-on-frame platform allows the SUV to post an 8,500-lb. (3,856-kg) tow rating for both 2- and 4-wheel-drive models, down slightly from the 9,000-lb. (4,082-kg) maximum for the 2WD ’10 model.

On the ’11 QX with the Deluxe Touring Package, Infiniti introduces a new technology, Hydraulic Body Motion Control, which aims to reduce body lean during turning.

Standard on the new QX are Infiniti’s Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention systems, and a Blind Spot Warning system that debuted on the new M.

Optional QX technologies include Infiniti’s adaptive cruise control system, Intelligent Brake Assist and Distance Control Assist.

Inside, the QX offers a standard 8-in. (20-cm) touch screen, a hard-drive navigation system with XM NavTraffic and XM NavWeather, the latter including a 3-day forecast. Bluetooth hands-free phone, Bluetooth streaming audio, a USB connector and Bose 13-speaker audio system also come standard.

Interior options include perforated semi-aniline leather seating and a DVD entertainment system with dual 7-in. (18-cm) monitors allowing for two different sources to be played at the same time, Infiniti says.

“The design intent on the QX was to create a Lear Jet in a sense – 5-star travel. And the interior, you want to sleep and eat in there and just live in there. It’s that kind of luxury,” Poore says.

Pricing will go unchanged, with a 2WD model starting at $56,700 and a 4WD QX basing at $59,800.

The QX no longer is being built in the U.S., with production for ’11 shifted from Nissan’s Canton, MS, plant to Japan.

The new ’11 QX56 goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.