2015 INFINITI QX80 Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 14, 2015

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.

Review continues below

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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2015 INFINITI QX80

Styling

Some of the minor details on and in the Infiniti QX80 have been retouched for 2015, although it's still a classic SUV design with plenty of glamor added.

The Infiniti QX80, which was formerly called the QX56,mashes up one of the most truck-like profiles among modern SUVs with some interesting callbacks to traditional utility vehicles of the past, as well as some lapses in good design taste. For the latter, a significant refresh for the 2015 model year -- including new exterior colors and wheel designs -- should help with that impression.

The massive headlights and huge grille carry over, pulling eyeballs to this vehicles front end immediately. For 2015, the QX80 gets revised styling here, with new headlamp detailing as well as new turn signals and fog lamps. The chromed vents on the outside remain fake-outs; only one of them actually functions to bring cool air under the hood. These flaws get muted by darker paint colors.

There's some vintage charm in the QX's silhouette, especially from the side, where its height and glass areas bring back the days of the Troopers and Monteros of the 1980s. Technically, the QX80 is a version of today's Nissan Patrol, another member of that trio (the only surviving one, in fact), and the faintly retro looks owes plenty to those roots. Most of the proportions hit the right notes: the ride height gives the QX the perfect SUV stance, and the D-pillar angles in such a way as to link it to the rest of the company's vehicles, as do the raised panels on the tailgate and the subtly swelled fenders. This year, there's a new bumper design with flush sonar sensors, and side-mirror housings get chrome plating.

The cockpit of the QX80 is as radiant as that of the Mercedes-Benz GL and about as refined than the one in the new Escalade—and it sums up as an interesting alternative to the excellent Range Rover. Slide in and savor the QX’s cabin to seal the deal. This look and feel fits in perfectly with the grace and finesse of the Q70 sedan. Finely finished wood burls and swirls around the analog clock, audio controls, and steering wheel on some versions; the hazelnut leather in our test vehicle matched it perfectly. From the hockey-stick angles of the dash center to the aluminum strip implanted into the shift lever like the stitching on a 22nd-century baseball, Infiniti’s designers have assured masculine shapes and textures throughout.

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2015 INFINITI QX80

Performance

The QX80 offers true luxury-vehicle road manners with its strong V-8.

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.

Push the start button, and the QX rumbles to life. The V-8 is one shared with the Nissan Titan and Armada–under the hood, but the QX's exhaust sounds more lush and refined than NASCAR race-ready. It's a strong, silent type of powertrain.

Since the QX80 shares some of its rugged underpinnings with the military-grade Nissan Patrol, it’s no surprise the Infiniti has off-roading in its genetic makeup.  For traction, Infiniti upgrades the rear-drive QX80 to 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).

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2015 INFINITI QX80

Comfort & Quality

Everyone's happy in the 2015 QX80, especially if adults keep to the first two rows.

The 2015 Infiniti QX80 is a true luxury SUV, and a standout for those who want a vehicle that's sturdy and rugged, yet plush and exclusive inside. The cabin is distinctive and can fit seven, but warm, distinctive materials are the real star inside.

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.

With the power-folding third-row seat down, Infiniti counts 95.1 cubic feet of storage space (it amounts to about as much space as the trunk of a mid-size sedan). Loading is simple enough, since the QX80 sits at least 2 inches lower than the previous model, and the power tailgate relieves lightweights and shorties from having to jump and hang on for closure.

Seating is plush and comfortable all around. The interior still sports luxurious front seats, plush chairs with power adjustments and plenty of space in all directions--except possibly at the knees, where bigger passengers might make contact with the QX's center console and its softly padded side. We're big fans of ventilated seats, and the QX80 offers them; they're excellent investments for those who live in the South.

The third-row seat just isn't useful for adults, but three children will be able to jump into it and find plenty of room for themselves and their backpacks. Second-row seating ample, although keep in mind that the buckets are nicer than the no-charge bench seat. With the buckets you also get a center console that's almost as useful as the deep bin between the front seats. The second-row seats also offer heating, and a tip-forward setup is meant to make clambering into the third-row seat a little easier.

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2015 INFINITI QX80

Safety

Although there aren't any crash-test results for the QX80, it's loaded with safety tech

Neither the Infiniti QX80, nor its nearly identical predecessor, the QX56, have been crash-tested in the U.S.; although this big, burly SUV has plenty of advanced safety features that should help keep it out of trouble.

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. Buyers can also opt for adaptive cruise control with Distance Control Assist, which slows it down when the system detects obstacles ahead. A blind-spot warning system and a lane departure warning system are available, as is a lane-departure prevention system that gently nudges the QX back into a lane when sensors think you’re wandering off the mark. Think twice before you're sold on the idea, though--we think they create too much audible and haptic interference for skilled drivers.

In lieu of a traditional rearview camera, Infiniti equips the QX installs its Around View camera, a set of lenses that stitches together a set of exterior views for a 180-degree look at potential obstacles. This year, the Around View monitor adds cross-traffic alerts. Dual front, side, and curtain airbags are standard, as are stability control and anti-lock brakes; active headrests; and tire-pressure monitors.

We'd recommend that you consider your driving position, and outward visibility in general in the QX. Rearward vision can be dicey, especially if you're a shorter driver carrying a full load of passengers.

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2015 INFINITI QX80

Features

The 2015 Infiniti QX80 goes for plush and well-equipped, and nails it in all respects.

The 2015 Infiniti QX80 isn't quite as loaded with modern luxury and convenience items as an Escalade or Range Rover, although it's hard to imagine anyone being downright disappointed with all that this true market original offers.

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. There's also standard cross-traffic alert and birds-eye view for the exterior camera system. And you can opt for a three-place bench seat in place of the dual buckets for the second row, at no charge.

A Technology Package groups features like blind-spot monitors with adaptive headlights, and a three-zone automatic climate control system. There's also a Theater Package, which includes dual LCD displays for the back seat, alone with remote controls, wireless headphones, and auxiliary inputs for gaming systems. It gets a new remote control and a new user interface this year. And a Deluxe Technology Package brings a Plasmacluster air purifier and grape polyphenol filter, as part of an Advanced Climate Control System (ACCS).

There's also 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.

The Limited model also includes 22-inch wheels, the Theater Package and the Deluxe Technology Package.

Option packages add on more upscale features, the kind you'll also find in the Escalade and Range Rover. A hydraulic suspension is available; so are ventilated front seats, and heated second-row seats; and easy-folding second-row seats for access to the third row.

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2015 INFINITI QX80

Fuel Economy

Don't even think about a hybrid or diesel option, and the 2015 QX80, as it is, is quite the guzzler.

The 2015 Infiniti QX80 is EPA-rated at 14/20 mpg, which is okay for a full-size SUV its size, if fully used. But if you're not putting butts in seats, or loading the QX80 with cargo, it's one very thirsty, inefficient luxury vehicle.

No matter which edition is specified (rear-drive or four-wheel drive), the QX80 has the same ratings. And Infiniti has no plans for hybrid or diesel QX utes here in the U.S.

While those aren't stellar numbers, they are far better than Nissan's own Armada SUV.

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