Hitch spent the last few days searching for the right tow vehicle and today we went to test drive two of them:
2013 Infiniti QX56 for ~$38,000
- Towing Capacity: 8,500 pounds
- Mileage: 85,993 Miles
- Type: Full sized Luxury SUV
- Engine: 5.6L V8 32-valve
- URL: http://www.kuniwestsideinfiniti.com/used/Infiniti/2012-Infiniti-QX56-eb62ee7f0a0a00650044f51fe52cc6df.htm
Pros: Power, high towing capacity, technology to ease long distance driving, luxury
Con: HUGE! If the tech fails, your ability to maneuver into parking space goes away, not nimble at all, poor fuel economy.
The QX56 2013 is a huge beast of a thing. Apparently, this is the luxury version of Nissan’s grand-size Pathfinder Armada. I find it extremely daunting to drive. Hitch had no problems and actually enjoyed the comfort and ease of controls. As a passenger it’s a very soft ride and surprisingly quite for a beast of an engine. I’m a rather short person, so getting in the SUV is kind of like mounting a horse: right foot first, then swing the left foot in. I will say without handles I would be grasping at threads to get in.
The luxury gadgets, such as the rear cameras and radar, promise easy maneuvering in tight spaces. It’s sad that the interior design is rather plain and doesn’t project opulence at all. I will admit that the Intelligent Cruise Control is lovely and keeps you at a safe distance between you and traffic ahead. The Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention are two systems that alert you when you drift out of your lane and will gently move the car back if you fail to respond. Then the Distance Control Assist will alert you to slow down by pulsing the throttle and applying the brakes. These are very handy tools to have while on the road towing a 30’ Airstream.
Overall, Hitch really liked the QX56 2013: the way it drives, the nice techy extras, despite its huge size. I like the tech as well, but I am afraid to drive such a monster of a SUV alone, even without the trailer. I would be double paranoid with both! I would need to practice driving before getting comfortable. On the plus side, the dealer said the vehicle was certified and under warranty for up to 5 years or 100,000 miles.
2011 Mercedes-Benz GL450 for ~$34,000
- Towing Capacity: 7,500 pounds
- Mileage: 62,448 Miles
- Types: Luxury Full-Size SUV
- Engine: 4.7L V8 32-valve
- URL: http://www.ebautobrokers.com/detail-2011-mercedes~benz-gl~class-4matic_4dr_gl450-used-13806495.html
Pros: True luxurious interior, comfortable passenger ride, massaging front seats!
Con: Sub-par handling, unexpected heavy hand needing in steering, COMAND system is confusing
I found this car not as frightening to drive as the Infinity. For a Mercedes, the tech falls short of expectations, I really was hoping for the same kind of features found in the Infinity. Sadly, the COMAND system was frustrating to use. The built in cellphone system is just plain stupid – I’ve watched Mythbusters, both Adam and Jamie proved that talking on the cell phone impairs your driving as much as a pint of beer.
While driving, Hitch found the handling blow expectations and the steering a stiff. As a passenger, I felt comfortable and wrapped luxury. The ride was smooth and it felt almost like a normal SUV. The luxury extras such as the leather seats, massage front seats, and the rear camera are what I would expect in an Mercedes SUV.
Again, climbing in to the car as difficult, but not insurmountable. I worry about the poor handling and stiff steering – being on the road for extended time while towing an Airstream, these are two things you don’t want to fail.
Overall, the cabin opulence is superb, but I can’t see this SUV as a true off-road vehicle. I can understand why Hitch would want something better. If they could only put the interior splendor inside the Infinity, I would be happy. Since this isn’t a certified used car, I would be reluctant to buy it.
Side note: Elliott Bay Auto Dealers is not your average car dealership. The sales men don’t wear suits and the atmosphere casual and low pressure. I was pleasantly surprised, and wouldn’t mind returning to this dealer.
Elliott Bay Auto Dealers
13001 Aurora Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98133
Yep, ultimately we didn’t get either but I liked the Infinity. It was a true beast of a car but you need a beast to tow a 7500 lbs trailer across America. The Infinity has a bigger engine with more torque. It was also just a bit roomier for me in the driver’s seat and while it felt lumbering the steering felt good compared to the more sport feeling Mercedes.
I also really liked the electronics on the Infinity. It has all around cameras so when you are parking it shows you what is basically an overhead view of the car and its surroundings letting you line things up with total confidence to if you are going to hit obstacles or not. It also alerted us to high wind warnings as we started the test drive. All that gave me more confidence in driving it.