New & Used Infiniti QX80: In Depth
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The Infiniti QX80 is a large SUV that’s recently been rebranded in the Nissan luxury division. For the 2014 model year, the once-known-as QX56 has become the QX80, just like the rest of the Infiniti lineup, as the brand begins to detangle the mix of letters and numbers that was once its naming system.
The QX80 traces its lineage back to the QX56, which was new in the 2004 model year, and at the time, a spin-off of the Nissan Armada ute. Built in Mississippi alongside the Armada, that QX56 was a more plushly finished version of the Armada, with almost no mechanical differences. Both vehicles were based on the Nissan Titan full-size truck platform, and used that truck's sole drivetrain--a 5.6-liter V-8 that over time was boosted to 320 horsepower and 393 pound-feet of torque.
With a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive and a standard five-speed automatic, the QX56 was a brawny machine that could tow up to 9,000 pounds. In other ways, it came up short. The interior wasn't as luxurious as competition like the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. To fix that, flaw, Infiniti upgraded the cabin of the QX56 with better materials, while it also facelifted the sport-ute and added new audio and navigation features.
The first major model change for the vehicle that would become the Infiniti QX80 came in 2011. As a part of a wholesale movement to give Infiniti more distance from Nissan's U.S. offerings, the big SUV changed platforms and homes. The 2011 Infiniti QX56 was no longer a version of the Armada--instead, the name was applied to a Japanese-market ute not sold in America. The new vehicle still could hold up to seven passengers, and it carried over a big 5.6-liter V-8, only now, one with 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque, and a new seven-speed automatic.
It's in this form, Infiniti's full-size SUV has become the 2014 QX80. In late 2012, Infiniti announced that it would re-badge all its vehicles, to clarify model names that had become a confusing jumble of letters and numbers related to engine displacement. The QX80 and all other Infinitis would change over as of the 2014 model year, regardless of whether they were all-new vehicles or carry-overs.
The QX80 is essentially a carryover QX56, and that's fine. Its straight-line performance is excellent, and gas mileage isn't bad for a vehicle of its size and capability, at 14/20 mpg. The optional hydraulic suspension continues to give the QX80 a dose of off-road credibility, and towing remains high at 8500 pounds.
It's also a good-looking vehicle, once you're past the very tall front end. The interior's an upscale gem, with wood and leather that's graceful and masculine at the same time. The front and second-row seats are plush and comfortable, but the third row is for children only. Cargo space is excellent, and the cargo floor is lower than before.
Feature content lags the big American luxury utes, but the QX80 now has standard rear and side-view cameras, as well as backup collision intervention--the SUV will apply brakes if it senses an obstacle crossing behind it when in reverse. Other standard features include navigation; DVD audio; Bluetooth audio streaming; and pushbutton start. The QX80 also comes with the Infiniti dealer experience, something that rivals like Lincoln's Navigation and Cadillac's Escalade still can't quite match, more than 30 years down the road.