When you think of four wheel drive (4WD) vehicles, what image comes to mind? A pickup truck or perhaps a rough-and-tumble all terrain conveyance? A family SUV that never traverses more than concrete curb in an overcrowded parking lot? I’d wager that not many imagine a luxury SUV that can take on the most rustic terrain. I certainly didn’t, until Infiniti loaned me the QX56 4WD for a trip to the beach, that is.
Growing up in the desert of Southern California, I thought myself quite the expert on four wheel drive modes of transportation. In fact, I was a dune buggy driver far before I was a licensed driver. But Infiniti changed everything I thought I knew about what defines a 4WD car on a recent trip to the Outer Banks region of North Carolina in the QX56.
First Lesson: 4WD does not have to mean an uncomfortable and bumpy ride.
The safety and handling features all come along for the ride when you turn the dial to 4WD in the QX56.
The Infiniti lets you dial your drive setting
The turn of a dial is literally all it takes to transfer into 4WD mode. No cumbersome levers, no getting out of the car, no special tools or skills needed. Plus the cooled seats and adjustable driver’s settings went a long way towards making the ride even more comfortable.
Second Lesson: An Infiniti is still an Infinity, no matter the road you’re on.
Infiniti does luxury like few other car companies, and they didn’t give any of that up when designing the QX56 to go off road. All the features that make the QX56 a sweet ride on the road translate seamlessly to off road driving. The sound system turns cranking those summer tunes into a seaside concert. The sunroof has added pop on the sunny shore for sure. One feature I never expected to have such a big impact was the footrail. Stepping up onto the rail allowed the kids to dust some of the sand off before they got into the car, making for easier clean up when we got home (both kids and car). There are many more luxuries, whch we learned about when we reviewed the QX56 for Traveling Mom, which you can see here.
Third Lesson: Muscle Matters.
The QX56 4WD features a 5.6-liter (5,552cc) 32-valve V8 engine, that powered over steep dunes that even the “usual” 4WD cars and trucks wouldn’t attempt.
The vacation home we rented was four miles down the four wheel drive only side of the beach in the village of Corolla, North Carolina. Driving on the sand, and driving a “street vehicle” through the sand, were all new to me. Luckily the staff at the house rental agency gave us some tips.
- Air your tires down by half. Stop just off a paved road to release air from your tires so that they’ll gain better traction in the sand.
- Be sure to have a tire gauge. An added feature in the QX56 is that the heads-up display will let you know if you get this wrong so that you can correct it before it becomes a safety issue.
- It takes time. Airing down, and airing back up, are things you will need to do every time you change the driving surface. Know that this is going to take time, but it is well worth it for the exclusive beach access as well as safety back on the pavement.
- Follow the tracks. If you stay on the portion of the beach where other cars have driven, you get better traction.
It’s nice to know that you can take luxury with you, even off the road. You can also see amazing things that people who stay on the paved side of the road miss out on. Including the Wild Horses of the Outer Banks; here is one getting to know the QX56 right in our front yard.
Disclosure: Infiniti was kind enough to loan my family the QX56 for review of its 4WD features. That said, my opinions are entirely my own, because who wants a co-pilot who doesn’t tell it like it is, right?