|Positives: Big engine delivers in a big way, restyled exterior is more refined and elegant, interior trim helps a dated style, easy to drive and maneuver.|
|Negatives: Tech is antiquated, controls are hard to use, third-row space is compromised, interior starting to age poorly, weak on gas mileage.|
|Bottom Line: The QX80 has been around a bit too long. In new Limited trim, it does get some additions, and it still drives really well for something this huge. The level of luxury is excellent, and the interior is stunning if you can get past the dated tech and poor ergonomics.|
There's not much to quip about in the way the QX80 drives. It cushy, frighteningly quick, and actually pretty easy to drive for something that looks like it could house a small airplane inside.
Ride Quality: A very cushy, very compliant ride that can handle pretty much any road surface with aplomb. The part that truly impresses, though, is that it doesn't feel disconnected from the road over which it floats.
Acceleration: The monstrous V8 emits 400 horsepower, and throttle response is great. It launches to 60 mph in just over six seconds, which is fast, but not faster than the newer Lincoln Navigator (5.9 seconds).
Braking: Seriously strong and powerful to bring the QX80 to a stop with authority. Good pedal feel and progression help, as well.
Steering: Steering feel is absent, but it's on center, and the turn in is good. At no point did it feel floaty or without a good level of effort.
Handling: This is no performance SUV, but its body roll is manageable. This is a tall vehicle, but the chassis holds up well in turns.
This is the QX80's biggest demerit. We're just not big fans of Nissan's infotainment and overall tech, and it drags the QX80 down like a pair of cement galoshes.
Infotainment System: The 8.0-inch screen looks dated and low-res. We wish it was bigger and way better looking. Inputs are slow, as well. The rear screens for the entertainment system are big, but the whole system is a bit dated, as well.
Controls: The button layout is all wrong, and choices are hard to find while driving. The audio and climate control knobs are far too small and not tall enough to easily operate while the car is in motion.
Though the QX80 is seriously overdue for a redesign, the refresh did help a lot. It still has a strong presence, looks very intimidating and very expensive. The new interior trim looks great, but the cabin styling is quite dated.
Front: The big mesh grille and updated headlights look great together. The fact that the headlights no longer look too low on the fascia make for a much better front view.
Rear: We like the changes here even better than the ones in front. The bulbous taillights are gone, now replaced by slenderized versions that are united by a longer chrome bar. The QX80 is tall, but the longer horizontal lines lessen the visual height.
Profile: The blackened wheels look great, though we still think the faux fender vent has to go. Overall, the QX80 looks very good in profile in spite of its size.
Cabin: The two tone seats are a nice touch, and the stone-like silver open pore ashwood trim bits help up the style, but there's no totally masking this very old interior.
We would've scored the QX80 a bit higher were it not for the somewhat short-on-legroom third row. The access to the back is a bit challenging, as well. Otherwise, it's quite nice inside.
Front Seats: The seats are wide and plush, but the cushion could be longer for taller adults.
Rear Seats: The Captain's chairs are very accommodating, pretty much luxury thrones for the passengers. The third row isn't quite as nice with compromised legroom.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): It's very quiet inside, and the QX80 is well-built. High speed noise is almost non-existent.
Visibility: Good visibility in spite of the tall hood. The rear view is compromised by the thick pillars, so the cameras and 360 view are imperative.
Climate: The climate system's large vents blow a lot of air as needed, whether hot or cold. The heated and ventilated seats also work quite well. Too bad the controls make it a bit harder to use than should be.
The QX80 hasn't been tested by either IIHS or the NHTSA, but it does get new standard safety equipment to keep it current.
IIHS Rating: Not tested.
NHTSA Rating: Not tested.
Standard Tech: The list is exhaustive and includes an Around View Monitor, Front & Rear Sonar System, Intelligent Cruise Control, Forward Emergency Braking w/ Pedestrian Detection, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Blind Spot Warning, Blind Spot Intervention, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.
Optional Tech: None.
The cabin could be a bit better for small, loose item storage, but the size of the QX80 swallows a lot, especially when the rows are folded flat.
Storage Space: There really isn't a center stack cubby to speak of, but the large cupholders with the retractable door and the single cubby just next to it work well. The armrest is huge, as is the one in the second row, but at least one of them is taken up by headphones and the remote for the rear entertainment system. For size reference, you can fit an entire gallon of milk in each armrest, and we actually did just that.
Cargo Room: There's only 16.6 cubic feet behind the third-row seats, which isn't mindblowing. But the space behind the second row is 49.6, and with all seats folded flat, the space erupts to 95.1 cubic feet, way above average. That's less than the Ford Expedition and about the same as sister SUV, the Nissan Armada.
If you're looking for efficiency here, you're barking up the wrong tree. The QX80's heft, combined with a thirsty naturally-aspirated V8 make for one thirsty beast.
Observed: 14.4 mpg
Distance Driven: 128 miles
Our tester came standard with the very nice 15-speaker Bose premium system, but we expected a bit more in terms of overall sound quality. It's a good system with plenty of power, but it lacks depth and clarity. Good thing it comes as standard equipment.