2021 Infiniti QX80 Premium Select 4WD Review

Size, presence, and power in spades


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Much-improved infotainment system and center stack, strong street presence, powerful V8 engine, plush seats in all three rows, capacious cargo capacity, drives smaller than it actually is.
Negatives: It still needs a redesign to contend with newer entrants, poor gas mileage compared to the competition, seriously thirsty.
Bottom Line: The QX80 is still a great SUV with plenty of power and style, but the problem is that it gets outpaced by BMW and Mercedes that are newer, quicker, and better appointed.
Infiniti saw fit to refresh its biggest steed for the 2019 model year and then gave it a necessary infotainment update in 2020. The big V8 luxury SUV, however, is showing its age in terms of styling inside and out. The improvements helped extend its life, but the QX80 is in need of a redesign. Hopefully the QX80 Monograph Concept SUV will be the base for the new vehicle, perhaps sometime in 2023, but for now the QX80 soldiers on. We drove the luxurious Premium Select trim level for a week to see if this big beast still has an appeal that warrants shopper interest and dollars. Read our detailed review below.
 

Driving Experience

7.9

 

The V8 is going out of style, even on big SUVs. We like the power of the mill in the QX80, but it should be replaced by a turbocharged V6 for better efficiency. Despite this fact, the QX80 remains quick and drives better than its size would indicate. It's also very comfortable on the road.

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 powerful V8 emits 400 horsepower, and throttle response is great. It launches to 60 mph in just under six seconds, but it gets beat out by the BMW X7 and the Mercedes GLS.

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.

Technology

7.5

 

This used to be the vehicle's Achilles heel, but it's since been updated to look and work better. Controls have also been improved to make operation much easier while driving.

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.

Styling

7.9

 

Though the QX80 is seriously overdue for a redesign, the refresh improved the look of the exterior and the interior. That said, Infiniti needs to totally redesign the entire vehicle in the next year or two in order to be competitive in the segment.

Front: The big mesh grille and updated headlights are well-paired. The front end looks less bulbous an awkward than the previous design.

Rear: The thinner taillights look much better than the previous versions, and the overall rear end is cleaner, as a result.

Profile: The QX80's bulk is mitigated by the darker wheels and darker metal trim around the windows and on the fender vent. We're still not fans of the chrome door handles.

Cabin: The brown seats look a little boring and could use some texture or stitching on the insets. Overall, it's better thanks to the updated IP< but most of the interior is too bulky compared to competitors.

Comfort

8.2

 

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.

Safety

6

 

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.

Storage/Cargo

9

 

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.

Fuel Economy

5.2

 

We drove the QX80 on a longer trip to Michigan with the family. It's clear that on mostly highway driving, the QX80 is still really bad at gas mileage compared to competitors. To not even graze 20 mpg is not good at all.

Observed: 17.1 mpg

Distance Driven: 689 miles

Audio

8

 

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.



Final Thoughts

The QX80 is impressive for what's essentially a decade-old design. The brand made some nice improvements to the style and technology, but it can't hide the aging of the QX80. Most families will still enjoy its space, comfort, and power, but it's just too inefficient, especially with the rising gas prices. Let's hope the brand decides to do something about a redesign soon.

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