Its name has changed, but Infiniti's flagship SUV remains as comfortable and commodious as ever.
What's in a name? In the case of the 2014 Infiniti QX80, nothing more than a new corporate naming convention designed to align all the company's product offerings into a more organized package.
Formerly known as the QX56, the 'ute retains all the qualities that make it one of the more compelling luxury SUV candidates. With a few new features added for good measure, it continues to shine as a well-rounded choice for those who need to carry as many as eight passengers.
We spent a week with this biggest Infiniti reacquainting ourselves with all that we liked about it. Read on for our report.
What is it?
The QX80 is the rechristened version of last year's QX56, which has roots that take it back to the old QX4 of 1996. It is a five-door, seven- or eight-passenger sport utility vehicle, which is offered exclusively with Infiniti's direct-injection 5.6-liter V8 engine that produces 400 horsepower at 5,800 rpm, and 413 lb-ft of torque at 4,000rpm.
The mill is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission with adaptive shift control and downshift rev-matching for smoother downshifts while decreasing speed. The AWD version is equipped with Infiniti's Auto / 4-Hi and 4-Lo gearing for full off-road functionality.
Built utilizing body-on-frame construction, versus the more car-like unibody construction favored by other brands and smaller vehicles, the QX80 is a capable performer able to tow up to 8,500-lbs. when properly equipped. With one-trim-size-fits-all, the only thing left for a buyer to do is choose rear or all-wheel-drive. Oh, and the selection of options they may or may not, er, opt for.
Aside from the new name, the 2014 model year also brings Infiniti's advanced Backup Collision Intervention system, which is now part of the QX's Technology package. Similar to the system that debuted in the Infiniti QX60 (nee JX35), it senses obstacles such as cars or children, and immediately brakes to halt the vehicle's rearward progress.
The QX is loaded with standard features including Infiniti's hard drive-based navigation system with the now well accepted and oft-imitated Around-View monitor system and moving object detection system. Other standard niceties include 20-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, sunroof, fog lamps, power front seats, Bluetooth connectivity, and an eight-inch color display.
Although normally outfitted with a Bose audio system, our tester was equipped with the Deluxe Touring Package, which adds an upgraded Bose Cabin-Surround sound system with 15-speakers and 5.1 digital decoding, as well as 22-inch wheels, uprated leather, ventilated front seats and furniture-quality wood veneers. The Hydraulic Body Motion Control suspension is also included and brings the QX closer to sports car handling and further away from the handling of a truck, which is essentially what the QX80 is based on.
Our sampler was further luxed up with the Theater Package, which is perfect to occupy active back seat drivers with dual seven-inch screens and wireless headphones. Providing the finishing touch was the Technology Package, which brought Intelligent Cruise Control, Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and intervention, Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and prevention, Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA) and adaptive front lighting all to the table.
Even more kit will be available for 2015, when a lightly-refreshed QX80 arrives with mildly updated styling and new features like High Beam Assist and Predictive Forward Collision Warning.
What's it up against?
Other playmates in the QX's sandbox include the Mercedes-Benz GL, Cadillac's Escalade and the LX 570 from Lexus. Alternatively, there are various and sundry Land Rovers, GMC Yukon Denalis and the new Lincoln Navigator to fill the bill. All deserve consideration.
How does it look?
A typical two-box design, the QX is not as boxy as its overall size would normally dictate. Instead, it features a sense of bulbousness with its fluid shapes and rounded corners. The traditional barrel-inspired Infiniti grille leads off and directs eyes to the bi-xenon adaptive headlights and further down the flanks with their stylized portholes. An imposing look en toto, it does manage to hide its overall bulk rather nicely.
That's not to say it's small. It just looks that way.
And on the inside?
The interior of the QX80 features materials that would not be out of place in a well-outfitted living room. Leather-surfaced heated and ventilated seats with full power adjustments lead the way in the front row, and are joined by burled mocha wood trim. Metal bits including knurled knobs and controls offer a blingy contrast, but not without actually being fully functional. In other words, all-show and no-go is not the case here.
We are still enamored with the around-view monitor, which lets us take a bird's eye peak around the car before backing up. Using camera lenses located in the grille, tailgate and under the sideview mirrors, a 360-degree panorama is seen as though the viewer were floating twenty feet in the air above the car.
Our QX80's Bose Cabin Surround Sound system combined with the dual-screen rear view monitors for the full effect of a movie theater on wheels. For those who are not of the Hollywood persuasion, there is a 120-volt AC outlet to plug in the PS4 for hours of on-the-road gaming.
The middle row of our tester was equipped with a pair of captain's chairs. Absolutely comfortable and with plenty of legroom, they can be replaced with a three passenger bench seat which increases passenger hauling capabilities from seven to eight. The snug-fitting third row of seats is easily accessed by the automatic seat-folding feature, which gets us back there with the push of a button.
But does it go?
Despite the QX80's 5,900-pound curb weight, we were shaking our heads at how powerful the 5.6-liter V8 manages to make this largest Infiniti feel. Add to that, the silent interior that offers serene surroundings for extended cross-country motoring.
The seven-speed automatic transmission managed to hit all the marks flawlessly while underway, and never had us hunting for the proper gear. Steering was well modulated, neither too firm, nor overly boosted. It provided good road feedback and combined with the hydraulic body motion control system to provide a more car-like ride than seen in other vehicles. A possible tradeoff comes with the firmer settings that some passengers may become annoyed with.
Although we didn't perform any off-roading ourselves, Infiniti claims their rear-biased AWD system will send up to 50-percent of its traction to the front wheels as needed. We found the ride quality to be exemplary and able to handle nearly every situation we encountered. We also found the Lane Departure Warning system to become a bit tedious after a while and discovered a sense of relaxation once we turned it off.
While the EPA says that the QX80 is capable of a 16-mpg average, with 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway filling out the other parameters, we were only able to record an overall mileage count of 14 miles per gallon. Blame it on the larger 22s, the South Florida humidity, an excessively heavy right foot, or all of the above.
Leftlane's bottom line:
Yes, Infiniti's flagship SUV has undergone a name change. But what hasn't changed is the attention to detail and opulent furnishings that make it a superb luxury vehicle and excellent family hauler. It may take many pretty pennies to settle the price of admission, but once you are beyond the velvet ropes of the Infiniti QX80, you'll think it's the full red carpet experience.
2014 Infiniti QX80 base price, $64,450. As tested, $79,095.
Options include: Theater package, $3,100; Technology package, $3,250; Deluxe Touring package, $4,650; Cargo Mat and first aid kit, $200; Tire and Wheel Package, $2,450; Destination fee, $995.
Photos by Mark Elias.