Infiniti QX80 — Updated styling

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Infiniti QX80 does a lot of things well when compared to other big SUVs in the body-on-frame luxury segment and for that reason its sales numbers have remained relatively constant over the years despite only modest incremental changes and its rather hulk-like appearance.

What buyers like about the big three-row SUV is its healthy 8,500-pound towing capacity, its ability to travel far off road when outfitted with four-wheel drive, its brisk acceleration thanks to a massive V-8 engine, and its stylish and well-made interior.

The biggest gripe about the QX80 is that it has soldiered on since 2014 with the same exterior styling treatment. To modernize the big guy and to create a more luxury appearance, the Infiniti styling team raised the headlights 3.9 inches and slimed down their openings, revised the thick chrome grille, and restyled the lower fascia. The chrome strip at the rear was widened connecting new LED taillights. It now exudes a slightly more luxury-like appearance.

But not much has changed beneath the skin with essentially the same mechanical elements including the drivetrain and an infotainment system — while getting some upgrades — hasn't kept pace with many of its luxury rivals. For instance, competing SUVs have larger screens than the Infiniti's eight-incher and with much higher resolution. On the other hand, the QX80 has much-more user friendly knobs, buttons and switches than the more "up-to-date" models. There's simply no substitute for tuning and volume knobs and physical push button pre-sets in our opinion.

As for the drivetrain, we have no complaints. The 5.6-liter V-8 making 400 horsepower and 413 foot-pounds of torque pulls the nearly 6,000-pound SUV to 60 mph from a standstill in just a tick or two over 6 seconds through a smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic. The QX80 merges with freeway traffic quietly and confidently even with four or five passengers on board. But be advised the 5.6-liter engine guzzles premium gas to the tune of 13 mpg city, 19 highway and 15 combined in the four-wheel drive edition.

The big SUV handles well in a straight line despite light-touch power steering that masks any road feel, but even with the optional Hydraulic Body Motion Control the QX80 tends to lean in the corners, feeling top heavy if you get too frisky with the accelerator pedal. On the plus side, the ride is generally composed and plush and the suspension soaks up most road imperfections.

We found the accommodations roomy with ample stretch out room in the first two rows — including plush second-row captain's chairs — and more than adequate head room. The seats proved comfortable for long-distance travel, and finding a just-right driving position was no problem with the eight-way power seat and power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. And there are plenty of pockets, bins and cupholders to make storing stuff fairly easy. But climbing in can be a chore even with the running board, especially with the optional 22-inch wheel package.

The rear-most seats, as is the case with most SUVs of this size, offer tight quarters. Infiniti has come up with a feature that makes gaining access to the third row easier. It’s a remote second-row seat folding control that allows the driver or front passenger to remotely fold the second-row seats without leaving their seat. It’s an irreplaceable convenience.

The QX80, which measures 208 inches in length, has a useable 16.6 cubic feet of storage behind the third-row seats. This can be expanded to 95.1 cubic feet with all seats folded. By comparison, the Lexus LX 570 has only 83 cubic feet.

Standard safety is well covered but such things as blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and lane departure prevention, which come as standard equipment in many lesser-priced luxury vehicles, are part of a $2,900 driver's assistance package.

The QX80 comes in only one trim level with either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive at $65,745 including destination charge for rear- drive and $68,845 in four-wheel. But there are several option packages including the aforementioned safety features that can run the price up thousands of dollars. Our test vehicle came with the Deluxe Technology Package including a 15-speaker Bose sound system for $,5,700; the Theater Package for $2,400; and the Tire and Wheel Package that includes the huge 22-inch wheels for $2,800. Several lower-cost options including Wi-Fi ($450) were also included. This brought the bottom line to $84,660.

The QX80 is showing its age with now usually-common items on most vehicles not available at any price including a panoramic sunroof, a head-up display, and wireless phone charging.

Base price: $65,745; as driven, $84,660
Engine: 5.6-liter V-8
Horsepower: 400 @ 5,800 rpm
Torque: 413 foot-pounds @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Drive: four wheel
Seating: 2/2/3
Wheelbase: 121.1 inches
Length: 208.9 inches
Curb weight: 5,888 pounds
Turning circle: 41.6 feet
Towing capacity: 8,500 pounds
Luggage capacity: 16.6 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 95.1 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 26 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 13 city, 19 highway, 15 combined
0-60: 6.2 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Lincoln Navigator, Lexus LX 570, Cadillac Escalade

The Good
• Strong acceleration from V-8
• Luxury interior
• Big towing capacity

The Bad
• Interior showing its age

The Ugly
• Very thirsty engine