- An upscale cabin
- Tough off-roading ability
- A genuine SUV
- Strong powertrain performance
- Finger-light steering
- Very thirsty
- Oversize front end a turnoff to some
- Gaudy fender vents
The 2016 Infiniti QX80 is an old-school SUV with lots of luxury but it should only appeal to those who truly need to tow.
The Infiniti QX SUV is full-size traditional body-on-frame SUV that competes at the high end of the market. Formerly known as the QX56, it offers seating for seven or eight and big V-8 power. While those kinds of mechanicals might no longer be in vogue, the QX80 is the best Infiniti SUV to date—a top rival to the Escalade and superior to at least a few of its competitors.
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 high ground clearance, thin profile and light side glass, the kinship is there. Most of the proportions hit the right notes: the ride height gives the QX the perfect SUV stance, and the D-pillars angle 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. Some might find the design off-putting. The QX80 does have a tall forehead and cheesy fender vents, and the overall look is organic, with more flowing, rounded shapes than you'll see in just about any vehicle these days.
No matter what you think of the exterior, the interior is certainly attractive. It's a handsome blend of leather, burled wood, and metallic trim, all arranged with logical controls and strong, masculine lines.
The QX80 has surprisingly off-road-worthy underpinnings, with available 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 QX80’s standard hill-start-assist electronics. Ride quality is excellent, too, even if you get the available 22-inch wheels. There’s an automatic leveling setup on the rear end for towing duty, 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 QX's steering feel is light—perhaps too light—but its brakes are big and powerful.
All 2016 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 7-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 time under seven seconds, while gas mileage is no surprise at a low 16 mpg combined. 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.
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 prefer them. There's a third-row bench as well, and it will accommodate adults in a pinch, though it is best for kids. Behind it, there's enough space for moderate shopping duty, but the second- and third-row seats can be powered down to expand cargo space to 95 cubic feet.
The QX80 remains a standout for those who want a vehicle that feels plush and exclusive. Standard features include navigation with a hard drive for maps and music, DVD audio and satellite radio, 20-inch wheels, a sunroof, a power tailgate, Bluetooth with audio streaming, keyless ignition, USB connectivity for audio players, and leather trim. The Limited model comes with a 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, and leather-wrapped speaker grilles for the instrument panel are among the many dress-ups.
For 2016, Infiniti adds a limited run of 1,000 Signature Edition models that feature a split bench rear seat, a Saddle Tan high-contrast interior, bodyside moldings, and chrome mirror caps, plus a rear entertainment system and the host of safety features that are otherwise available in the Driver Assistance package.
Speaking of safety features, the QX80 offers several of them. Available are 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 and apply the brakes. A lane departure prevention system gently nudges the QX back into a lane when sensors think you’re wandering off the mark. Other tech features include brake assist, a backup collision warning system, adaptive cruise control, and blind spot and lane departure warning systems.
All those features and the vehicle's sheer size should make it safe, but there haven't been any U.S. crash-test results for the QX80 in recent years.
The 2016 Infiniti QX80 is EPA-rated at 14 mpg city, 20 highway, 16 combined with rear-wheel drive. Opt for all-wheel drive and those figures fall to 13/19/15 mpg.