THE INFINITI QX56 has great road presence even when matched against much pricer automobiles.
Los Angeles — No doubt, if you’ve read some of my car reviews, you’ve come across at least one where I talk about the rides in southern California.
I hate to keep beating that drum, but for anyone who hasn’t traveled to the West Coast, it’s something to see. Best analogy? Think Michigan’s Birmingham, stomping grounds for some of the area’s most exclusive rides, times 10. That’s no exaggeration.
Sure, with spots like Hollywood and Beverly Hills, the West Coast is definitely known more for celebrities. But sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s the star, the person or the car. Case-in-point: During a recent trip to L.A., I met a young aspiring actor who landed a part in the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, “Dead Man’s Chest.” But he was more interested in talking about his new Audi S4 then his role. Deep, huh?
Perhaps a friend who lives in L.A. put it best.
“Its got to be nice in Detroit knowing that you can just drive a car without worrying about how it looks,” she said. “Here, it’s all about what you drive.”
Clearly. In L.A., rides like Ferraris, Porsches and Laborghinis are common. Stare too hard when you spot one and you won’t even have to tell folks you’re visiting. Trust me, they’ll know. That starry-eyed tourist look is a dead giveaway.
People on the West Coast have a deep passion for automobiles, and they don’t think anything about spending a lot of cash on rides to stand out. So when I was given an Infiniti QX56 to test drive during a recent trip to L.A., I was a little surprised at all of the attention the SUV was getting on the street.
Now, by no means am I saying that I didn’t think the QX56 was worthy of accolades before I spent some time with the SUV in Cali. Its got all the makings of a star with its big chrome grille, classic, yet bold exterior body design, chrome accents, tinted glass, 18-inch chrome wheels and wide stance.
But with a base sticker price of about $53,000 ($55,300 as tested), I just never would’ve imagined that the QX56 would get the type of attention it did, compared to some of the more exclusive luxury vehicles you typically see cruising the road on the West Coast.
Practically everywhere I went, somebody would pull up next to me to try to get a better view of the SUV or inquire about the ride, males and females. Impressive, especially for a ride that’s been on the market for a couple of years.
The valets at Hotel Andalucia, an elegant hotel in downtown Santa Barbara, were such big fans of the QX56 that they parked it in front behind a customized BMW 745 Li, which probably cost close to $100,000 with all the customizing — nearly double that of the QX56.
“You’ll be able to pick up a lot of women in that,” said an LA valet commenting on the QX56 when parked at Margarita Cantina, one of Hollywood’s popular night spots.
He’s probably right had that been a goal, considering that I caught a sexy woman driving a $100,000 Mercedes G Class eyeing the QX56 on the freeway. And that kind of pull doesn’t come easy in L.A. The SUV also got some looks cruising Hollywood the night of the BET Awards with rides the likes of a Rolls-Royce Phantom, which carries a sticker of over $300,000, and a Bentley Continental GT Coupe, which cost about $150,000.
The interior of the QX56 is as impressive with standard features such as heated 1st and 2nd-row captain’s chairs, DVD navigation system with 7” display, rear view monitor, and a Bose audio in-dash 6 CD/MP3 system that will rival just about any factory-installed system on the market. The spaciousness of the QX56’s interior had one of my friend in L.A. who’s about 6’6, 275 pounds raving all week about the SUV. And it’s also equipped with third row seating.
Safety features include an advanced air bag system, front seat-mounted, side-impact air bags, front seat active head restraints and vehicle dynamic control system and electronic brake force distribution.
The QX56 is powered by a 5.6 liter DOHC V8 that gets 315 horsepower and 390 lb-ft torque.
But with an estimated mpg of 13 city and 18 highway, a drive in the QX56 can be expensive, especially on the West Coast. The SUV has a 28-gallon fuel tank, and I spent about $65 dollars to fill it up at one station during a trip to Santa Barbara.
Oh yeah, it’s costly at the pump. But the QX56’s styling might be well worth the bill if you’re in the market for an SUV, considering the cash you’d typically have to dish out to get that kind of love in a ride. Compared to some of those $100,000 vehicles, the QX56 is a steal for $55 grand or so. You do the math.
Price: $55,300 as tested
MPG: 13 city/18 hwy
DVD navigational system
Third row seating
18-in. chrome wheels
Marcus Amick can be reached at marcusamick@ aol.com.
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