With the introduction of the QX56, Japanese automaker Infiniti redefined just what the large luxury SUV could be. In stark contrast to its competitors like the Cadillac Escalade, the QX56 proved to be a versatile and surprisingly nimble vehicle that handled and behaved more like a mid-size SUV than its luxury-liner counterparts.
In the QX56, Infiniti was able to enter a rare corner of the market with a full-size—enormous, actually—SUV that provides as much joy behind the wheel as it does space for people and anything else one might want to pack in its roomy interior.
Performance and Tech
At 17 feet, 3 inches long, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a mast and sail atop this luxury behemoth. Instead, the QX56 is powered by a 5.6 liter V8 that pumps out 400 horsepower, an ample supply even for a vehicle that weighs in at 5,650 pounds.
The giant V8, based off Nissan’s popular Titan pickup platform, provides enough power to give the QX56 one of the highest towing capacities in its class at 8,900 pounds. It also contributes to perhaps the SUVs best quality—its ability to maneuver rather deftly in and out of traffic.
The QX56 employs a full-time four-wheel drive in its four-wheel drive models, which works together with a five-speed automatic transmission and an all-independent suspension, making it a very capable off-road vehicle as well.
The design and flow of its vehicles has always been a selling point for Infiniti, a point that continues on with the QX56. Unlike others in its class, the QX56 features some rather aggressive, sporty styling that follows the Infiniti design philosophy of vehicles that look as sporty as they do luxurious. Soft curves and a number of featured horizontal lines make this enormous SUV look smaller than it actually is, which certainly appealed to people not ready to commit to the soccer-parent aesthetic.
The interior is where the design of this vehicle truly shines, both in terms of aesthetic appeal and productive use of space.
For starters, the second row rivals the first in terms of comfort and luxury, with a whopping 42 inches of legroom for second-row passengers. The car also features an actually spacious third row, a rarity even in larger SUVs.
The entire interior is bathed in high-grade, butter-soft leather worthy of the cockpit of a fine yacht. The wood and brushed aluminum accents throughout the vehicle provide a consistent, clean look that feels luxurious without making passengers feel perhaps a little underdressed.
The QX56 is stocked with nice, thoughtful luxury touches throughout. Some are expected—standard navigation system, a Bose 10-speaker stereo and dual-zone climate control. Others, such as the removable second-row center console, underbody skid plates and a reinforced roof rack, show Infiniti’s commitment to the “utility” part of this SUV.
As both a family and utility vehicle, the QX56 has a great deal to offer in the way of safety.
For starters, it employs vented ABS brakes that are linked to the vehicle’s traction and stability-control systems. By default, the QX56 starts off in four-wheel drive and slips into the more fuel-friendly rear-wheel drive if the weather permits and sticks in four-wheel mode in poor conditions.
The vehicle uses many such auto-detect features as added safety bonuses, such as the ring of side-impact and curtain airbags that deploy when the car reaches rollover angles, not simply upon impact. This is a feature that could potentially save many lives on and off the highway.
The QX56 also features a high-tech security system that automatically disables the vehicle if any intrusion or unwanted entry is detected.
Specific Information on Suspension System
The QX56 owes a great deal of its storied maneuverability to its advanced suspension system. Both front and rear suspensions are independent, auto-leveling air suspensions. These suspensions automatically adjust dampening on the rather impressive ground clearance of about 10 inches, give or take depending on whether the vehicle is in rear or four-wheel drive mode.
In addition to its handling, the Infiniti QX56 is also notably mechanically sound. Long-term testing revealed few problems that were inherent to the vehicle and reported it to be mostly reliable even after its initial 30,000 miles.
However, as can be expected with a nearly three-ton vehicle, the auto-leveling air suspension proved to be one of the only problem areas consistent from one vehicle to the next. Whereas the compressor tended to be the culprit in the QX56’s cousin, the Nissan Armada, much of the suspension problems in this SUV can be traced to its front and rear control arms.
The suspension issues unfortunately tend to jump from a mild annoyance to an outright safety hazard rather quickly. Many owners reported steering wheel lock and extensive swaying issues, both predictable and problematic issues for a car that weighs 5,650 pounds unloaded. Given the vehicle’s size and tremendous engine power, this issue becomes very critical very quickly and cannot be left unattended.
Problems With Driving on Worn-Out Shocks
The first thing drivers will notice when driving on worn out shocks is a distinct change in the comfort of the ride of their vehicle. While this may seem like a minor inconvenience, it is the first warning sign that the vehicle is starting to lose its capabilities. If this problem goes ignored it can very quickly spread to other parts of the suspension and the rest of the car.
Cars that are riding on a worn out suspension system will begin to experience the dreaded “nose dive.” This is when the car becomes unable to evenly distribute the stopping weight and as a result, the the back end of the car lifts up while the front end of the car dips down.
As one would suspect, nose-diving puts tremendous stress on the front brakes, causing a massive buildup of heat. This much heat will cause the brake pads to deteriorate rapidly, first causing a “spongy” feeling in the brake pedal. This problem will increase exponentially if left untreated, with constant excessive heat leading to a loss of function. Any increase in stopping distance can create a potentially dangerous or even fatal situation.
Cars that drive on worn-out struts will also experience abnormal tire wear and tear known as “cupping.” When a car’s struts are not working properly, even small bumps in the road will cause the wheels to lose contact with the road. This causes a “bouncing” action that significantly increases the effect the impact of small bumps and divots in the road, causing the tires to be cut and scraped. After even just a few hundred miles, the tires will likely need replacing.
Suspension systems are highly complex, interconnected systems. Once the shocks lose the ability to absorb stress from the road, other parts of the suspension are asked to pick up the slack. Bushings, stabilizer links, ball joints and CV joints are asked to take on more than their fair share once the shocks are no longer able to take the stress that they are supposed to.
As the suspension is also the primary determiner of its handling, a car driving on a worn-down suspension system will lose much of its ability to safely maneuver in and out of traffic. As this is one of the QX56’s selling points, this represents a significant loss of value and function.
But this is more than just an issue of value and comfort. A vehicle’s suspension system is one of its most important safety features. Research from independent groups has suggested that a car driving on worn out shocks requires up to 22 extra feet to stop when traveling at 70 mph. This is a difference that could potentially be fatal.
Making the Switch
Air suspension systems provide a wonderful amount of responsiveness and can truly be a dream to ride on—when they work.
Most studies have shown, however, that these air suspension systems lose most of their functionality after just 50,000 miles and start to show signs of deterioration at around 35,000 miles. This means that replacing these systems is a matter of “if” and not a matter of “when.” Replacing these systems with the manufacturer’s original system can cost thousands.
Fortunately, Strutmasters Inc. has developed a solution for this issue that is simple, robust and inexpensive. By converting a vehicle from air suspension to high-quality coil shocks, owners can replace their system for a fraction of the cost.
High-quality components means high-quality performance
Genuine Strutmasters conversion kits are made of chromoly tempered steel—the gold standard in almost every mechanical industry, celebrated for its ability to resist corrosion and its durability. Each strut is precision-ground and treated to reduce friction and cut down on wear and tear. Struts made with these high-quality materials have the ability to retain fluid and pressure longer than most of their competitors and as a result, provide a smooth ride for years to come.
Seals are one of the many areas in which some manufacturers look to cut production costs. These small pieces are often invisible without inspection and many people don’t give them a second thought. However, seals do the all-important job of keeping debris, dirt and other contaminants from entering the inside area of the struts. Cheaper seals break down quickly and will allow these contaminants to start pouring in, drastically increasing friction and quickly wearing down the struts themselves.
Strutmasters insists on using seals made only with the highest-quality advanced materials. As a result, these seals have the ability to block debris and hold fluids and gas charges for much longer than the competitors.
Hydraulic fluids, or grease, keep friction down inside the struts. While in use, struts and shocks get extremely hot during its compression and rebound cycles—the up-and-down movement of the strut. Over the course of 12,000 miles, the struts of a car will undergo 21 million of these cycles. Hydraulic fluids are essential to reducing the heat exchange between mechanical parts and preventing friction.
Just as is true with the seals, hydraulic grease is available at a number of different levels of quality for manufacturers to use. Also just like seals, cheaper grease breaks down much more quickly and easily, which can lead to rapid deterioration of the struts themselves.
Strutmasters, however, uses only the highest-grade lubricants available, ensuring long-lasting maximum performance.
All Charged Up
Strutmasters charges its shocks with pressurized nitrogen. This gas charge maximizes dampening capability and prevents what is known as “cavitation,” or the forming of air bubbles within the shocks.
No Bottoming Out
“Bottoming out” is the term for when the shaft of a strut plunges deep enough to hit the bottom of the valve. This bottoming out action puts excessive stress on the valve hardware and will greatly reduce the functionality and longevity of the struts.
Each Strutmasters kit uses an internal shaft spring and a bump stop made of high-quality durable rubber to prevent bottoming out.
Always in Tune
There are many factors involved in determining a car’s dampening needs. That’s why Strutmasters employs professionals to meticulously research the specific needs of each vehicle and determine the precise tuning needed. Then, advanced technology tuning equipment is used to tune the shocks on each kit to perfectly match its needs. With this precision tuning, drivers can expect a ride that is comparable or perhaps even preferable to the vehicle’s original ride.
Made with genuine Eibach springs
Few names are as celebrated in the shock and suspension industry as Eibach. The German company’s precision-manufactured springs offer enhanced cornering, improved stability and more direct handling than their competitors. Eibach springs are the preferred choice of auto racing professionals from the likes of F1, Indy Car, NASCAR, WRC, and CART.
That’s why Strutmasters uses only genuine Eibach springs in its conversion kits. If these springs hold up in the world’s most demanding driving scenarios, they’ll excel on the highway.
No “discount mounts”
With a car’s struts bearing the entire weight of the car, the hardware that mounts those struts to the car needs to be up to the task as well. Low-quality or poorly manufactured mounts can significantly reduce the functionality of the struts themselves, causing a loss handling, stopping power and longevity of the entire suspensions system.
Strutmasters uses mounts that feature a robust rubber piece that insulates the mount against the constant jostling of the strut. These mounts are built to withstand the rigors of just about any on or off-road situation, keeping both the mount and strut itself in pristine shape and providing the driver with maximum performance for years to come.
Bearing the load
Located just beneath the upper mount is a bearing plate, which serves as a steering pivot as the car’s wheels are turned. Accordingly, these bearing plates take on much of the load-bearing stress of the car when turning or cornering.
The strength of the bearings in the bearing plate are therefore critical to the proper functioning of the suspension system.
Many competitor kits use bearings made of synthetic materials such as plastic, which are poorly suited to the task. Ball bearings made from such cheap materials will become easily distorted and lose functionality very quickly.
Strutmasters instead uses robust ball-bearings made from solid steel in each one of its kits, guaranteeing a safe, smooth ride long into the future.
Better bushings for a better ride
Bushings are highly-important components that connect the strut to the rest of the suspension at the bottom of the strut assembly. Though small, these bushings essentially hold the system together at one of its most critical points, making them absolutely fundamental to a properly functioning, long-lasting suspension system.
Strutmasters employs bushings that are made with a high-quality rubber blend designed specifically the to ensure that the car stays properly aligned and that the suspension system functions properly.
Conversion kits need to be greater than the sum of their parts. Rather than several components functioning independently, Strutmasters engineers its kits to work together in harmony as a unit to ensure maximum performance. This “big picture” concept is known as Strutmasters’ patented Glide Ride ® technology.
Glide Ride ® technology provides drivers with a low-cost replacement for their worn out struts that rivals or even exceeds the original ride quality of the vehicle.
Made in the USA for Quality Assurance
Strutmasters relies on its manufacturing partners to provide consistent, high-quality components. That’s just part of the reason why Strutmasters insists on working with American manufacturers. As a proud American company, Strutmasters understands that “Made in the USA” is about as good of a stamp of quality as one could ask for these days.
Though it may be a little more expensive, working with American manufacturers allows the company to create and nurture mutually beneficial relationships, creating smooth business transactions and ensuring simple, consistent communication and understanding throughout the process. Strutmasters’ partners are just a simple phone call away in the same country, speaking the same language with the same business customs.
Most importantly, sticking with domestic manufacturers means that Strutmasters keeps its and its customers’ dollars right here in the United States, continuing to help build a robust, bustling economy that benefits everyone.
Before any of its products hit the market, Strutmasters rigorously tests them for safety and performance. The company employs professional drivers to push each suspension kit to its limits to ensure that they are up to the rigors of the road.
Strutmasters kits also help customers save money on one of the biggest expenses—labor. These kits require absolutely no modifications to the vehicle, meaning the average competent DIYer can install them right in their driveway. Each kit is packaged with a straightforward installation guide and has corresponding training videos on the internet to help make for a smooth and painless installation.
For those without the tools or space to install it themselves, the simplicity and ease of these kits means less time in the shop, drastically reducing expensive labor costs.
Strutmasters stands by the quality and workmanship of its products. That’s why every Strutmasters kit comes with a limited lifetime warranty. Even though a customer will likely never experience any issues with their kit if installed properly, this warranty should provide some peace of mind and a little insurance “just in case.”
Many competitors stop service right after they’ve collected their funds, leaving customers on their own to figure out whatever issues they may have. Strutmasters understands that people are the heart and soul of every business. As such, the company employs a team of experienced professionals to answer any and all suspension-related questions and provide as much support as possible.
Strutmasters’ support team is at the ready during extended business hours to answer everything from specific information about an order to general advice about suspensions.