Big V-8 power translates to impressive capabilities in the 2019 Infiniti QX80, the brand’s largest SUV. Renamed back in 2014 and facelifted for the 2018 model year, the full-size luxury SUV has aged quite well. It’s a big and bulky SUV that consumes plenty of premium-grade gasoline as it puts an emphasis on towing and hauling.
For the 2019 model year, Infiniti has made automatic emergency braking standard on all versions, including pedestrian detection and forward-collision warnings. A new Limited model joins the lineup, nearing the $90,000 mark.
Just two trim levels are offered: base (Luxe) and Limited. Both boast a 5.6-liter V-8 that unleashes 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque through a 7-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the base model, with four-wheel drive available for an extra $3,100. Limiteds get standard 4WD.
When suitably equipped, a QX80 can tow up to 8,500 pounds â€“ sufficient to haul a camper, but far less than a Chevrolet Suburban or Ford Expedition.
Addition of standard automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warnings moves the QX80 a step forward in safety, but crash-test scores are less impressive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given the 2019 QX80 a four-star rating overall, and five stars for the side-impact test â€“ but a three-star score for frontal collision. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash-tested the QX80.
Available safety features include blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, adaptive headlights, active lane control, and a camera-based rearview mirror. They’re optional for the base model, gathered into a $2,550 ProAssist option package.
Prices do not include $1,295 destination charge.
Luxe ($65,100) comes with rear-wheel drive, 20-inch alloy wheels, a power liftgate, power heated front seats, leather upholstery, second-row captain’s chairs, power-folding third-row seats, Bose 13-speaker audio, and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking. The 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen includes navigation and Bluetooth connectivity. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are not available.
Luxe 4WD ($68,200) gets four-wheel drive.
Limited 4WD ($89,800) has four-wheel drive and is fitted with open-pore wood trim, supple quilted leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, dual 8.0-inch screens for rear-seat entertainment, running boards, and a hydraulic suspension. Safety features include lane-departure warnings, blind-spot monitors, forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking.
An update to the QX80’s design for the 2018 model year stripped away much of the previous version’s blingy chrome and flashy trim. The current model leads off with sharp headlights and a more attractive mesh grille than its predecessor wore. A floating badge adds a classy touch to the front end. The QX80 is a large SUV and doesn’t try to hide it under body creases or visual tricks.
The QX80’s luxury SUV credentials start with a quiet ride and a spacious cabin, comfortable for as many as seven occupants. In addition to impressive passenger and cargo capacity, the QX80 excels in accommodations in the first two rows. Fit and finish are stellar.
Quiet and calm in nature, the interior feels almost like a silent study area, adorned with upscale leather. Hard plastic surfaces can still be found, but they don’t detract from the QX80’s stately, spacious cabin appearance.
Like other big SUVs, the QX80 provides tall, upright seating positions, with good views of the road ahead. Front seats are both spacious and supportive, promising all-day comfort during long journeys.
Second-row captain’s chairs are standard, but in the base model a bench can be substituted for $250. Legroom reaches 41 inches, and tall adults should be happy with headroom.
Getting into the third row may be a chore for adults. Once there, a mere 28.8 inches of leg clearance awaits. Youngsters make the likeliest occupants. Third-row seats are power-folding.
Just 16.6 cubic feet of cargo volume is available behind the third row. Power-folding that seat raises space to more than 25 cubic feet.
Like some domestic-brand big SUVs, the QX80 blends traditional, old-fashioned V-8 power with comparable handling prowess.
Ride comfort on long-distance trips may attract family-focused buyers, but nimbleness isn’t a trait to be found in a vehicle that approaches three tons when fully loaded. Hydraulic body motion control, standard on Limited trim, and. can prevent this big SUV from feeling too awkward in corners.
Performance is predictable from the stout V-8 and 7-speed automatic. Although the QX80 never feels short on power, it doesn’t come across as eager, in part because of the SUV’s substantial weight.
Four-wheel-drive models, fitted with a two-speed transfer case, impart confidence when the road surface turns rough. Both body size and big 20-inch wheels (22-inch available) tend to limit off-road capabilities.
The QX80 glides comfortably and quietly down the road. Active noise cancellation keeps drone from the big wheels at bay.
As expected of a three-tonner, fuel economy isn’t a plus. With rear-wheel drive, the QX80 is EPA-rated at 14/20 mpg City/Highway, or 16 mpg Combined. The estimate sinks to 13/19/15 mpg when four-wheel drive is specified. Premium gasoline is required.
Refined and swanky, Infiniti’s biggest SUV clearly has aged well, with excellent power, comfort, and cabin capacity. Packed with luxury features, the QX80 promises the greatest value in base (Luxe) trim. Most modern safety features that are standard on the Limited are available for the base model.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.