More appealing to the masses, but a few things need freshening.
– Cleveland, OH
While sport utility vehicles come in all shapes and sizes today, none epitomize what an SUV is more than the traditional full-size SUV. The Infiniti QX80 falls into that category and adds a dollop of luxury to sweeten the deal. Built on a truck platform and powered by a V8 engine, it can go places and tow things your neighbor’s crossover just can’t.
Refreshed for 2018, the QX80 has a more appealing face and some new tech to woo buyers away from popular competitors like the Cadillac Escalade and totally redesigned Lincoln Navigator. It’s a tough sell, though, as the QX80 may look nice and new, but hiding inside are some features that passed their expiration date a while ago. Couple that with fuel economy that’s among the worst of all SUVs on sale today, and the QX80’s case for itself begins to melt.
The QX80 is a luxury SUV, and the biggest one Infiniti makes. Its pricing reflects that, with a base price of $64,750 that increases to $67,850 if you want four-wheel drive. In the grand scheme of luxury SUVs, that’s on the low end, but the version I tested included a slew of options packages that drove the price up all the way up to $83,195 (including a $995 delivery charge). If you go easy on the options sheet, the QX80 can be a deal, but you’ll miss out on many of the luxury features Infiniti has to offer, as well as an entire suite of active and passive safety features that really should come standard at this price. Plus, Infiniti’s parent company Nissan sells the Armada, a non-luxury version of this large SUV that offers many of the same features and starts at just $46,090.
For 2018, Infiniti has given the QX80 new front- and rear-end designs. They replace the controversial – though wholly unique – visages of years past with something more traditional that’s also more in line with the brand’s current design language. I can’t deny the QX80 is altogether a more attractive SUV than it was before, but I’ll also miss the extra character that came with the old model’s quirky face.
The materials used by Infiniti inside the cabin – leather with contrasting stitching and real wood trim – are befitting a big luxury SUV like this. There’s also plenty of room for up to seven passengers to fit comfortably, including in the third row, though a big center console between the second row captain’s chairs takes up a lot of space. The seats themselves are comfortable but don’t offer much bolstering to keep passengers upright through turns without having to grab a handle or brace themselves.
Cargo room is also on the high side with a maximum swallowing capacity of 95.1 cubic feet, but Infiniti doesn’t offer a longer wheelbase version of the QX80 like Lincoln does with the Navigator and Cadillac with the Escalade. The rear seats also fold nearly flat, but again, that darn center console sticks up and makes loading larger items more challenging.
The QX80 falls on its face in this category, with an old infotainment system and controls that have carried over unchanged through many model years of this vehicle. The screen size is average, the graphics are dated, and the main input remains an awkward knob high on the center console. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto weren’t even introduced with this year’s redesign, and there’s little here, including the Infiniti InTouch suites of connected apps, that’s unique or innovative.
That said, the QX80 did get one bit of new interior technology this year: the Smart Rear View Mirror. With a flick up, the rearview mirror goes from an analog reflection to a bright digital camera feed of the road behind you. It’s great for when the rear is packed high with cargo and the wide-angle view is really helpful. That said, Infiniti wasn’t the first here; Cadillac offers the same tech in the Escalade.
This is no performance SUV, but the QX80’s suspension is tuned to be firm. My tester was also equipped with a Hydraulic Body Motion Control system, part of the Deluxe Technology Package that costs $5,700, which combats body roll in corners. As such, this isn’t a cushy SUV that cloaks the road’s topography with layers of insulating systems. You feel the road surface, and the QX80 fights to stay upright in turns more than most large SUVs.
There’s also a big engine here to play with: Infiniti’s 5.6-liter V8 produces 400 horsepower and 416 pound-feet of torque. Combined with the QX80’s sensitive throttle, the engine’s power moves this big boy off the line with surprising quickness. Pro tip: switch to Snow mode to dull the throttle’s sensitivity if you find it annoying. More pertinent, though, to this vehicle’s purpose, is the QX80’s towing prowess, which at 8,500 pounds puts it near the top of the list for SUVs.
The QX80 wants for nothing when it comes to safety features, though they all come at an extra cost. Fortunately, they’re all contained in the relatively affordable Driver Assistance Package. For $2,900 you get an alphabet soup of acronyms that includes BCI, MSW, BSI, LDW, LDP, ICC, DCA, FEB, and PFCW. Translation: the QX80 watches your blind spots, won’t let you change lanes into someone, won’t let you back into anything, and will slam on the brakes if you’re about to hit something. Oh, and you get adaptive cruise control with that, too.
You won’t be surprised to discover the QX80 performs poorly in regards to fuel efficiency. That said, you may do a double take when you find out just how bad. We researched the least-efficient SUVs and found only one with a lower combined miles per gallon score: the 707-horsepower, ultra high-performance Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. That SUV manages just 13 mpg combined, while the QX80 ekes out a slightly higher 15 mpg. That ties it with the 12-cylinder, cost-and-fuel-are-no-object Bentley Bentayga SUV. Direct competition like the Cadillac Escalade, meanwhile, manages 17 mpg combined, and the brand new 2018 Lincoln Navigator flaunts an impressive 18 mpg score, which jumps to 19 if you can live with 2WD.
Photos: John Neff / Motor1.com