2017 Infiniti QX80 Review

The brand's big guy has presence but needs a serious update


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: A seriously cushy cabin, intimidating size makes lesser vehicles change lanes, easy to drive for its size, big thrust, looks menacing with dark trim.
Negatives: The size of an aircraft carrier, dated tech with dated controls, fuel efficiency exists in your imagination only.
Bottom Line: The QX80 may have undergone a name change not long ago, but what it really needs is a redesign both inside and out. That being said, it's still a big, fast and luxurious SUV that's hard to dislike if you can get past its size and gas mileage. It's shockingly easy to drive for something this massive, but it's one thirsty whale.
 View Our 2017 Infiniti QX80 Overview
Infiniti may have brought some fancy new models into their lineup recently in the form of the Q50 and the QX30, but that doesn't mean they still don't have a couple of dinosaurs roaming their lots and showrooms. Those would be the QX70 and QX80, now very much long-in-the-tooth, occupying the brand's Jurassic-era slots. And though both of these cars are in desperate need of a complete overhaul, that doesn't mean they're not worth looking at. Infiniti's musk ox QX80 actually is one of the very few illustrious members of the big body-on-frame 7-passenger vehicles club, joining the ranks of the Mercedes-Benz GLS, Lexus LX 570, Caddy Escalade and the super-old Lincoln Navigator. What the QX80 lacks in freshness, it makes up for in size, power, and luxe. We helmed this high-end beast of burden for a week to see if it still stands up to the task of driving semi-fancy people around in monstrous high-style.
 

Driving Experience

7.6

 

Customers buy this car for luxury, space and prominent style. No one expects it to handle like a sporty SUV, but that doesn't mean the QX80 is a disappointment to drive. Actually, quite the contrary. It manages its size remarkably well, and the driving experience doesn't betray its intended purpose.

Ride Quality: It's a big, comfy luxobeast that cradles its occupants by delivering a well-controlled ride that absorbs pretty much everything it comes across. The automatic leveling rear suspension and Hydraulic Body Motion Control work well together to provide the kind of shock absorption and control of the QX80's mass.

Acceleration: The QX80 moves fast, and the first time you mash the gas, it's a bit alarming. But this kind of power (400 horses worth) is required to makes sure the QX80 can move without making the driver worry about not being able keep up or pass. 0-60 comes in just over six seconds, and that's freakin' fast.

Braking: Initial brake pedal feel is mildly spongy, but the rest of it is progressive and strong. The big QX80 stops with authority.

Steering: Steering is light and on the numb side, but it's on center.

Handling: There's no mistaking that this is a sizeable automobile, but it does do adequately in turns. Just don't expect it to be a master of the twistys.

Technology

6

 

There's nothing revolutionary about the QX80's tech. Though it handles most tasks decently, its look and controls feel dated. The brushed silver buttons might look ok, but they're a bit unorganized and difficult to use quickly.

Infotainment System: The 8-inch central touchscreen is acceptable, but for vehicle this size, it should be larger. The screen is decent to read but not very attractive. Nissan's system is definitely on the geriatric end of in-car tech. Our tester came with the Theater Package and provided dual 7.0-inch rear screens, two wireless headphones, a remote control, a 120-volt power outlet, and auxiliary inputs for gaming systems. It keeps the back half of the crowd very entertained.

Controls: The top half of the center stack's controls are devoted to the navigation, and the lower portion consists of audio and climate, but all of them look remarkably similar and are hard to read in low light. We're not sure if the dimmer was set properly and had trouble figuring out how to turn up the brightness. Also, there was no "home" button to take us back to a central screen, which we found frustrating.

Bluetooth Pairing: No issues with pairing or staying paired throughout our review. Music streaming was also easy.

Voice Call Quality: Clear with no transmission issues when using our Apple iPhone 6S Plus.

Styling

8

 

On the outside, the Limited gets a comprehensive darkening, with tinted lenses for the head- and taillights, smoked chrome trim, and a special dark finish on its standard 22-inch wheels that takes on a brownish hue in certain lights.

Front: How this much lack of styling synchronicity works is beyond us, but it does. If you tilted the huge black mesh grille vertically, it wouldn't look out of place on a tractor. The headlights are too small for the space they occupy. The hood looks melted. But what results is presence, like it or not.

Rear: More of the melted look here, but it's not bad. The chrome strips above and below the license plate mimic the front grille, and the bulbous lights are consistent with the front fascia. Again, not beautiful, but very noticeable.

Profile: It's the best view of the QX80 in our opinion. Its Nissan Patrol roots show up here, and that's a good thing. Though we hate the fender vents, we do rather like the massively thick D-pillars that ruin the view from the inside but give the outside some character. We love the darkened 22" wheels that don't make it look like a rapper's delight but instead a slighly more sinister and "sporty" version of this premium hauler.

Cabin: The matte ash wood and Truffle Brown leather are gorgeous. We even loved the wavy stitching on the armrest and seats. We just didn't like the dash design/layout and the lack of fluidity.

Comfort

9

 

Comfort is the QX80's sweet spot, and for the majority of the occupants, riding in it is distinct pleasure. The interior was original marketed as a "jet executive" cabin, providing lear-jet like exclusivity in the big seats. Our tester came with room for 6-7 people (the second row had captain's chairs and a large center amrest for the entertainment system. Overall, the QX80s cossets passengers in style and long-haul comfort. Consider it a seriously tall limousine. We do wish for a bit more headroom for the tall sitting seat and little more front seat legroom.

Front Seats: Big and comfy, their plenty wide in the cushion and seat back. We enjoyed every moment in these seats, but they're not quite as good as Volvo's Multi-Contour versions.

Rear Seats: Second-row seats are big and supportive, but the third-row seat isn't nearly as roomy. At least they're easily accessible thanks to the flip-forward second row, which is a great feature.Two adults will survive in the very back, but they can't be over six feet tall and sit comfortably. Three kids should fit with ease.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Quiet and very well built. Truly jet-executive in this respect.

Visibility: The big pillars in back obscure visibility, but the Surround View camera helps tremendously. The tall hood surprisingly doesn't make it too tough to place, thanks in part to the curvature of the middle and the corners.

Climate: The automatic climate system worked very well on cold mornings, as did the heated seats. We just don't like the dinky seat controls for heating and cooling. Way too small.

Safety

6.5

 

Though the QX80 has never been crash tested, we can at least take comfort in the fact that it has numerous standard safety features at this trim level. We scored it a 6.5 because it hasn't been tested but then gave it an extra point and-a-half above average for the standard features.

IIHS Rating: The vehicle hasn't been tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA.

Standard Tech: The Deluxe Technology package on our tester includes blind spot intervention, front pre-crash seatbelts, lane departure warning and prevention, and an adaptive front lighting system with auto-leveling headlights. The great lane departure prevention system works very well and makes long drives less tiring.

Optional Tech: None on our tester.

Storage/Cargo

9

 

Some big SUVs don't do a very good job with storage cubbies, bu the QX80 isn't one of them. Ther are ample locations to store small gear items, and both front and rear armrests are capacious. The cargo room, expectedly, is on par with the competitors.

Storage Space: Nicely placed front cupholders and three small cubbies in the center console are smartly executed. The armrests aren't as big as heavy duty pickup trucks, but they're still voluminous and convenient.

Cargo Room: With the power-folding third-row seat up, the QX80 has 16.7 cubic feet of cargo space, and with the second- and third-row seats down, the QX80 has 95.1 cubic feet of storage space. Power folding seats and tailgate make flattening the cargo section and loading that much easier.

Fuel Economy

5.7

 

The thirsty V8 and the heft of the QX80 all contribute to a less than stellar fuel economy rating, and if you even try to drive it a spirited fashion, it takes some big gulps from the tank. But then who on earth buys this thing for fuel economy?

Observed: 12.8 mpg combined.

Distance Driven: 324 miles.

Driving Factors: We exploited the big V8's power by regularly driving the QX80 pretty hard, and we watched the needle move quickly to empty. We imagine 19 mpg on the open road isn't unheard of but also not common.

Audio

8.5

 

The upgraded 15-speaker audio system is a good one. There's plent of volume, good clarity and good bass. It's not the best system we've experienced, but it gets high marks. It's a nice touch that in Limited trim, the system comes standard.



Final Thoughts

The fact that there aren't many luxurious contenders in this segment means the dated QX80 still hangs on well. It's one of those behemoths that gets noticed around town and still turns heads, probably not because it resembles anything beautiful but because it has real presence and street cred. It also does better than we thought in terms of its everyday usability and drivability, in spite of the fact that its as big as a storage facility. What the QX80 lacks in interior modernity and the latest tech, it more than makes up for in materials quality and in comfort. We know the next generation QX80 (or whatever it's called) will ramp up the tech and the exterior style, but the current model still very much holds its own.
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