Infiniti QX80 is a luxurious, full-size SUV with three-row seating for seven or eight occupants. Built with traditional body-on-frame construction and last redesigned for 2011, it packs a lot of luxury into an upscale cabin, competing near the upper end of the market.
For the 2016 model year, Infiniti has added a limited run of 1,000 Signature Edition models with a Saddle Tan high-contrast interior, split-bench rear seat, bodyside moldings, rear entertainment system, and the full complement of safety features.
Previously known as the QX56, the Infiniti QX80 features big-V8 power and moderate off-road capability, helped by its high ground clearance and truck-based structure.
Each QX80 holds a 5.6-liter V8 engine that delivers 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque, driving a 7-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard; four-wheel drive optional. A QX80 can tow up to 8,500 pounds. Performance is adequate for a three-row SUV of this size and weight.
Available full-time four-wheel drive has a truly low drive ratio. Torque is biased to the rear, but can be split 50/50 when tires begin to slip. Hill-start assist is standard, and the rear end contains an automatic-leveling setup that helps with hauling.
Interior space is abundant, with a high seating position. The QX80 is equipped with plush, exclusive trim and amenities.
Distinctive materials are the main attraction inside, especially for the top Limited model and the short-run Signature Edition (which is an option group).
Available active-safety features include a collision warning system and adaptive headlights. Lane-departure prevention can gently nudge the QX80 back into its lane. Other tech features include backup collision warning, brake assist, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot and lane-departure warning systems.
The 2016 Infiniti QX80 ($63,250) includes leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, hard-drive navigation, DVD audio, satellite radio, 20-inch wheels, sunroof, power liftgate, 13-speaker Bose audio, keyless ignition, and Bluetooth with audio streaming. Buyers can opt for a three-place, second-row bench seat in place of the dual buckets for eight-passenger seating.
QX80 4WD ($66,350) adds four-wheel drive.
QX80 Limited 4WD ($88,850) comes only with four-wheel drive, and includes quilted leather seat upholstery, wood trim, a suede-like headliner, Bose 15-speaker audio, an Around View monitor, 22-inch forged alloy wheels, and several active-safety features.
The Signature Edition option package has eight-passenger seating, backup collision intervention, forward collision and blind-spot warnings, and adaptive cruise control.
Rather than a simple rearview camera, the QX80 gets a surround-view system. A Driver Assistance package adds back-up collision intervention, forward collision warning, a blind-spot monitor, and adaptive cruise control. The Deluxe Technology package adds lane-departure warning/prevention, blind-spot intervention, and adaptive front lighting.
Blending near-classic SUV design with a touch of glamour, the QX80 has one of the most truck-like profiles to be found among modern SUVs. Recalling traditional utility vehicles from the past, this big SUV manages to exude some retro charm. Some folks favor its organic shape, though others might be reminded of a beached whale.
Huge headlights and a matching grille draw attention immediately. Tall ride height gives Infiniti’s largest model an ideal SUV stance. Rear pillars sit at an angle reminiscent of other Infiniti vehicles. So do the mildly bulbous fenders. Not many current vehicles look as rounded and flowing as a QX80.
Attractive inside, the QX80 blends leather, metallic trim, and finely finished wood burls that swirl across the dashboard. Such distinctive touches as angles that resemble hockey sticks, and an aluminum strip embedded into the shifter, help give the QX80 a look and feel that might be described as assertively masculine. Drivers also benefit from a logical control layout.
Seating is comfortable throughout. Large front seats are roomy all around, except where knees of larger passengers approach the center console. Leather seats may be heated, and ventilation is optional. The second row has enough space for two adults, or possibly three. Second-row bucket seats may be substituted. With buckets comes a center console.
Adults might squeeze into the third-row bench, though it’s mainly for youngsters.
Cargo room behind the third row is modest at 16.7 cubic feet, but second- and third-row seats power down, boosting space to 95 cubic feet. Loading is simple enough, using the standard power tailgate.
Powerful the QX80 is, but also big and heavy. Expect a luxurious ride most of the time, even if optional 22-inch tires are mounted (though our preference is for the 20-inch wheels for a smoother ride). On the down side, that enticing ride is accompanied by handling that can only be called cumbersome. Available Hydraulic Body Motion Control can alter air pressure at each wheel, to help minimize body lean.
Steering feels quite light, which might be disconcerting to some drivers, but brakes are undeniably big and powerful. Because the QX80 shares some of its rugged foundation with the Nissan Patrol, a military-grade model, its capabilities for off-roading come as no surprise.
A QX80 can reach 60 mph in less than seven seconds, impressive for a vehicle of this heft. Only a slight difference between available suspensions is noticeable, even with larger wheels. Therefore, we recommend avoiding the hydraulic suspension that comes with the Deluxe Touring package.
Infiniti’s V8 powertrain is the strong, silent type; emitting a relatively lush, refined note. Rearward visibility can be troublesome, especially for shorter drivers, with a full passenger load. A surround-view system is standard, rather than the usual rearview camera.
Poor gas mileage is no surprise. With rear-drive, the QX80 is EPA-rated at 14/20 mpg City/Highway, or 16 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive sinks those figures to 13/19 mpg City/Highway, or 15 mpg Combined.
The Infiniti QX80 provides a plush, exclusive experience, serving as a rival to Cadillac’s Escalade.
Driving impressions by Marty Padgett, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.