The Infiniti QX80 is a full-size, body-on-frame, rear-wheel-drive SUV that can seat seven or eight and uses a big 5.6-liter V8. No crossover here, and luxury all the way, this is a traditional large sport-utility vehicle.
All-wheel drive is available.
The QX80 was last redesigned for 2011, when it took over the platform of the Nissan Patrol SUV, leaving behind the platform of the Nissan Titan pickup truck. Even with its dated design, it feels plush and exclusive. Its most recognizable rival might be the Cadillac Escalade. The Range Rover tops the class, which also includes the Mercedes-Benz GLS.
The 2017 Infiniti QX80 gets no mechanical changes, only small things. The available emergency braking system adds pedestrian detection, trailer sway control is added to all models, and there are color changes for the sheetmetal and cabin. The 2017 Infiniti QX80 Signature Edition comes loaded with high-contrast leather, special wheels and other features.
All models come with a 5.6-liter V8 making a whumping 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque, mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. That’s less horsepower than some rivals, although performance is adequate, with acceleration from zero to 60 in less than 7 seconds. The ride is excellent but the handling is clumsy, unlike the Range Rover. QX80 is rated to tow up to 8500 pounds.
Since the QX80 is closely related to the Nissan Patrol, off-roading is in its genes, with an available all-wheel-drive system that’s simple, and uses a low gear ratio. The torque is biased to the rear, but can go to 50/50 front/rear when the rear wheels slip. It’s equipped with hill start assist.
Naturally, the QX80 gets low fuel mileage, at an EPA-rated 14/20/16 miles per gallon City/Highway/Combined. It hasn’t been crash-tested in recent years, but its sheer size should make it safe.
The 2017 Infiniti QX80 ($63,850) comes standard with leather upholstery, navigation, DVD audio, satellite radio, Bluetooth with audio streaming, sunroof, power tailgate, 20-inch alloy wheels, surround-view camera with cross-traffic alerts, and either dual bucket seats in the second row, or a traditional bench seat. Rear-wheel drive is standard.
QX80 AWD ($66,950) gets all-wheel drive.
Options packages are Deluxe Technology, Theater, and Driver Assistance, including adaptive headlights with automatic dimming, lane departure warning and prevention, backup collision warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitors, and forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
QX80 AWD Limited ($89,450) comes with the Deluxe, Technology and Theater packages. It gets a Truffle Brown cabin with wood trim and brown, black, and silver leather. The exterior gets dark chrome trim, dark headlamp and taillamp lenses, stainless steel running board caps with ground lighting, and 22-inch wheels.
The Infiniti QX80 blends classic SUV design with glamour, but its bulbous organic shapes show a lapse in good design taste, mashing up against the traditional truck-like profile. To some it looks like a beached whale. It has an SUV forehead that’s too tall, without much slope to the windshield, and chrome fender vents that are cheesy, even though one of them is functional. The grille is huge, while massive LED headlamps and foglamps pull the eyeballs to the front. It isn’t pretty.
However, some see vintage charm in the profile. It brings back those 1980s days of the Nissan Trooper and Mitsubishi Montero, with its light side glass. The angled rear pillars, raised tailgate panels, and swelled fenders are all family Infiniti touches.
The cabin is the best part of the QX80. It’s as radiant as the Mercedes GLS, as refined as the Escalade, and an interesting alternative to the Range Rover. The burled wood swirls around the hockey-stick angles of the dash, and the hazelnut leather is part of a handsome blend with a masculine feel. It has the grace and finesse of the Infiniti Q70 sedan.
The cabin is spacious, at least in front, with seats that are big, high and luxurious, although the driver’s knees are crowded by the center console, which at least is padded.
In the rear, despite the vehicle’s size, three passengers in the bench seat will be crowded, so we prefer the two captain’s chairs with a center console having a deep bin. This reduces seating capacity from eight to seven. The second-row captain’s chairs have available heating, and tip forward to make it easier to climb back to the third row, which will fit adult passengers in a pinch but is meant for kids.
Behind the third row there’s 16.7 cubic feet of cargo space, about as much as the trunk of a sedan. To get the full 95.1 cubic feet, both rows must be powered down. A power liftgate is standard.
The 400 horsepower made by the 5.6-liter V8 is less than average for the class, but the engine is strong, smooth and silent. The QX80 accelerates well, using its decent torque of 413 pound-feet.
The ride is excellent, even with the optional 22-inch wheels, but the handling is cumbersome, even with steering that’s too light for us. Thanks to the heavy, truck-type platform, you feel the SUV’s heft on the highway, and in town the size makes it hard to park. It protests if it’s driven too fast in corners by leaning and squealing. The good news is the brakes are big and powerful, when you recognize it won’t go there.
More good news is the available Hydraulic Body Motion Control system, which controls the beast. It uses hydraulic pressure at individual wheels to reduce lean, but we aren’t convinced it improves the ride or is worth the price. For towing, there’s an automatic leveling system at the rear end.
A full-tilt Infiniti QX80 Limited pushes the six-figure barrier in price, and for that you get a six-year-old design on a pickup-truck chassis, with a plush interior and nice ride, but an engine that makes less horsepower than the competition, and handling that’s poor unless you buy the system that makes it acceptable.
Sam Moses contributed to this report.