2014 Infiniti QX80 Performance

8.0
Performance

Following a change in platforms and production facilities, Nissan decided to upgrade the Infiniti QX80's powertrain, handling and overall refinement in an attempt to better showcase as many of the brand's upscale technologies as possible.

Push the start button, and the QX rumbles to life. There's a 5.6-liter V-8–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. The engine produces 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque, and it's connected the rear- or four-wheel-drive system by a seven-speed automatic transmission. It's a strong, silent type of powertrain that pushes the QX80 to 60 mph in about seven seconds, according to Infiniti's estimates.

The torquey V-8 sets the stage for true luxury-vehicle road manners.
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.

That’s not to overlook its considerable on-road talent; the independent suspension does a fine job of muting road imperfections, whether it’s shod with the base 20-inch or the brash, sexy 22-inch wheels fitted on our test machine. 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, which uses a closed air-pressure loop to damp out body lean in tight corners.

The real, though faint, difference between the suspensions didn’t get much more pronounced with larger wheels, so normally we’d advise skipping the Deluxe Touring Package and the hydraulic suspension—but since it’s added with the 22-inch wheels and other features, it’s between you and your wallet. Steering feel is too light for our tastes, but the QX’s brakes are big and powerful.

While the transmission has more gears and the engine less friction, fuel economy hasn't gone up all that much. It's EPA-rated at 14/20 mpg--better than before, okay for full-size SUVs, not so stellar in the grander scheme of things, even among luxury utes. 

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