2015 Infiniti QX80 Review

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8.0
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2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

The 2015 Infiniti QX80 is a vehicle for niche interests, but a refreshed presentation this year makes that niche appeal stronger than ever.

Last year the full-size Infiniti QX SUV had a new name, the QX80, yet it was nearly identical to the previous QX56. Now for 2015 the QX80 gets a few more updates in styling, interior amenities, and technologies that help keep it in pace with its niche market.

For those who need a refresher, the QX80 is a traditional body-on-frame SUV; and while those kinds of underpinnings, and big SUVs with V-8 engines, might no longer be in vogue, the QX80 is the best Infiniti SUV to date–a top rival to the outgoing Cadillac Escalade and superior to at least a few of its competitors.

To up the QX80's game for 2015, Infiniti has given the QX80 new front-end styling (now a closer match to that of the Q50 sedan), with LEDs for the headlamps, turn signals, and fog lights. There's a new bumper design with flush sonar sensors, and side-mirror housings get chrome plating. And to top it off there are three new exterior colors as well as some new wheel designs.

Look to the QX's closest ancestor, the Nissan Patrol, and it's easy to see that this modern luxury barge still looks the part of a proper SUV. With its higher ground clearance, thinner profile and lighter side glass, the kinship is there. The QX80 may have the tall forehead and cheesy fender vents, but its interior is a handsome blend of leather, burled wood and metallic trim, all arranged with logical controls and strong, masculine lines. The 2015 refinements for the QX80 include a wider range of trim options, and more visual differentiation between those choices.

Inside, the QX80 is a spacious beast, with a high seating position and big front chairs that don't lack for room in any direction except where knees meet the center console. Ventilated front seats are an option. As for the second row, there's plenty of space for two adults there (perhaps three for shorter distances), and the leather seats can be heated. Second-row bucket seats are available, and we do prefer them. There's a third-row bench as well, but don't think that given the QX80's mammoth proportions it's usable by anyone but small children. Behind it, there's enough space for moderate shopping duty, but the third-row seat can be powered down to expand cargo space to 95 cubic feet.

All 2015 QX80s come with a 5.6-liter V-8 delivering 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque, with drive going to either the rear wheels or all four via a seven-speed automatic transmission. The engine’s numbers might not seem high, but it’s enough to tow up to 8,500 pounds and provide adequate performance for this big and burly three-row SUV. This big ute can hit 60 mph in a surprisingly quick seven seconds, while gas mileage is no surprise -- a low 14/20 mpg. And despite being built by the same company that's responsible for pioneering the first mass-market electric car ever, there's still not an alternative drivetrain in sight for this model line.

You do get surprisingly off-road-worthy underpinnings, though, with full-time four-wheel drive with a real low drive ratio. Torque is biased to the rear, but can be split 50:50 between the front and rear axles when wheels start slipping. It’s fairly simple and effective—more so with the QX’s standard hill-start-assist electronics. Ride quality is excellent, too, in the QX80, even if you get the 22-inch wheels that are available on the most expensive versions. The QX's steering feel is light -- perhaps too light -- but its brakes are big and powerful. There’s an automatic leveling setup on the rear end for towing duty (the QX will drag 8,500 pounds behind it), as well as available Hydraulic Body Motion Control, air pressure at individual wheels to help damp out body lean (a feature not entirely worth the extra cost).

The QX80 remains a standout for those who want a vehicle that feels plush and exclusive; and that's even more the case for 2015 with the introduction of a new Limited model. In the new 2015 Infiniti QX80 Limited, you get a new Truffle Brown cabin marked by a palette of brown, black and silver leather and wood appointments and trim. Quilted leather seats, a suede-like headliner, silver accent piping, leather-wrapped speaker grilles for the instrument panel are among the many dress-ups. 

New features in the 2015 Infiniti QX80 include adaptive headlights that automatically dip the high beams if another vehicle is approaching, and a collision warning system that can detect if an accident is imminent with an object ahead of the vehicle. Other tech features include brake assist, a backup collision warning system, adaptive cruise control, and blind spot and lane departure warning systems. There haven't been any U.S. crash-test results for the QX in recent years, however.

Standard features in the QX80 include navigation with a hard drive for maps and music; DVD audio and satellite radio; 20-inch wheels; a moonroof; a power tailgate; Bluetooth with audio streaming; pushbutton start; USB connectivity for audio players; and leather trim.

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