After a major redesign in 2011, Infiniti didn’t change much in this year’s version of its big, family-hauling QX56. With personalized, luxurious space for all occupants, the “Q” is a road-trip in waiting.

So when it’s time to hit the beach, this SUV can handle the whole family. The QX56 comes in two models – 2WD and 4WD – but most owners aren’t likely to take this SUV off-road. This tall, wide SUV is made for pavement. It’s just too nice to get muddied or scuffed up.

The inside of the QX56 is plush and comfortable. With its “Wheat” leather interior our test QX56 looked as good as a stack of pancakes covered in butter. The outside of the vehicle could use a little stylistic work, but then it’s hard to make giant SUVs look sexy. You can have sexy looks or you can haul up to 8 humans in comfort, but you can’t do both at the same time.

Powered by a 5.6-liter V8 engine, the QX56 is actually pretty quick for such a large SUV (more than 208-inches long and nearly 80 inches wide). The 400-horsepower V8 sends 413 lb.-ft. of twist to the 7-speed automatic transmission.

The ride in the QX56 is refined, but soft. Feedback through the steering wheel is very slight, making the road surface feel far away – which it is when you’re sitting way up in the

cabin. The QX56 is nearly 6-feet 4-inches tall with a roof rack, or just about eyeball-to-eyeball with Steven Seagal.

The QX56 does better going straight ahead than in sharp curves, but it is a totally comfortable road machine. Infiniti has loaded this large SUV with features designed to keep the vehicle – and its occupants – safe. The vehicle has a full complement of advanced airbags including side curtains, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, and dynamic and traction control systems as standard equipment.

Also standard is what I consider the best camera system on the market: Infiniti’s “Around View Monitor” with front and rear sonar. This remarkable system gives the driver a bird’s eye view of the perimeter of the vehicle through cameras located on all four sides. Imagine standing on an 8-foot ladder atop the vehicle and looking straight down, with a view of all sides. Without the camera system, the QX56 would be an adventure to park. With the cameras, if you ding the side of the QX56, it’s your own fault.

There are nine – count ‘em, nine – cup holders in the QX56, which can carry up to eight people when equipped with a 60/40 second row bench instead of captain’s chairs. Guess that’s in case one passenger has a drink in each hand.

The vehicle has a smart-key/pushbutton start system, and tri-zone air keeps everyone comfortable. Leather seats have the Infiniti logo embroidered on the seatbacks, and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard.

The optional Technology Package ($3,000) adds intelligent cruise control, blind spot intervention, a lane departure warning and prevention system, and auto-leveling adaptive headlights. If that’s not enough luxury, the Deluxe Touring Package adds Bose Cabin Surround Audio, climate-controlled semi-aniline leather front seats, a Mocha burl trim, a courtesy light package and headlight washers. A Theater Package adds 7-inch screens with headphones and a remote for the kids in back. Standard wheels are 20-inchers, but 22’s are available.

The QX56 has not been rated for safety by the insurance industry. EPA mileage estimates are 14 miles per gallon in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. The base price of the 2012 QX56 4WD is $61,800. Add in the above optional packages – our test QX56 was loaded – and the price bulks up to $75,340, which included $990 in freight.

2012 Infiniti QX56 4WD

  • Engine: 5.6-liter V8
  • Transmission: 7-speed automatic with manual mode
  • Horsepower: 400
  • Test model base price: $61,800
  • EPA mileage rating: 14 mpg city / 20 mpg highway