Infiniti and Beyond

RIDES' Datwon Thomas spends a year with INFINITI's mighty QX56

SIZE DOES MATTER. After going from my beloved midsize Lincoln Aviator SUV (what up, “Gorilla”?), the good folks at Infiniti (Steve Oldham = greatness) agreed to let me tackle the streets of New York in their QX56 for a full 365 days. You heard right, a full year driving the pitch-
black-on-black rolling studio apartment, courtesy of our Japanese friends. The pick-up was the roughest part. It was February 2008, during the blistering cold. But even with snow engulfing the Big Apple, its automatic four-wheel drive made getting around mounds of the white stuff a breeze.

I have to say, the hugeness of the Q was, at first, daunting. I thought my wife would hate the bulkiness, but she ended up whipping it like a 370Z (hint, hint, Nissan). My main size concern was parking it in the big city known for even bigger garage prices. Having California plates didn’t help my curb game much with the meter maids, either. Yet I knew that wouldn’t be my only issue for the year ahead with my new rolling buddy—think gas prices. Who would have known that the highest numbers known to mankind would occur on my watch with the gas- guzzler of the moment? I wasn’t shook as much as I thought I would be come summer ’08. The average mileage I was clocking was around 12 to 13 miles per gallon, better than the 10 to 11 miles people were telling me I was going to get out of King Kong (his new nickname).

The interior is roomy, like fi t-a-cot-in-the-back-row roomy. Being the oldest of seven siblings and having three daughters requires a lot from any ride in my possession, and the Q-ey delivered. The heated seats in the front and second row, heated steering wheel, powered third row, mad cup holders, front and rear motion sensors, chrome accents (rims included), DVD player with wireless headsets, easy-to-read dash, Sirius/ XM satellite radio, up-to-the-minute navigation and traffic information all set me and the family straight on the road trips!

Drawbacks? Few. The alignment seemed off toward late summer, which affected handling—but avoiding New York potholes was my problem, not the truck’s issue. It’s hard to believe they’re up, but for 52 weeks, ol’ King Kong has been the ultimate family friend. It’s going to be tough to see him dash off into the jungle without me. DATWON THOMAS