2016 INFINITI QX80 Review

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The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 18, 2016

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.

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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.

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2016 INFINITI QX80

Styling

The QX80 blends classic SUV design with glamor but its organic shapes suffer from some some lapses in good design taste.

The Infiniti QX80 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.

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, until Nissan's next Armada hits our shores), and the faintly retro looks owe plenty to those roots. Most of the proportions hit the right notes: the ride height gives the QX80 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. Only one of the chromed vents on the front fenders actually functions to bring cool air under the hood. Some may see those vents as cheesy. The overall look is organic, with more flowing, rounded shapes than you'll see in just about any vehicle these days. Some will like it. To others it might look like a land whale.

The massive headlights and huge grille pull the eyeballs to the front end immediately. Last year, the QX80 received revised front styling, with LEDs for the headlamps, turn signals, and fog lamps.

The cockpit of the QX80 is as radiant as that of the Mercedes-Benz GL, about as refined than the one in the Escalade, and an interesting alternative to the excellent Range Rover. 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. The look and feel fits in perfectly with the grace and finesse of the Q70 sedan.

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2016 INFINITI QX80

Performance

Powerful and hefty, the QX80 offers a luxurious ride with cumbersome handling.

Since the QX80 shares some of its rugged underpinnings with the 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 QX80’s standard hill-start-assist electronics.

There’s an automatic leveling setup on the rear end for towing duty (the QX80 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). There is only a faint difference between the suspensions and it doesn't get much more pronounced with larger wheels, so we would advise skipping the Deluxe Touring package and the hydraulic suspension. However, since it’s added with the 22-inch wheels and other features, that decision is between you and your wallet. Steering feel is too light for our tastes, but the QX80’s 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 they are strong enough to provide adequate performance for this big and burly three-row SUV. This big 'ute can hit 60 mph in a surprisingly quick time of less than seven seconds, but it's no surprise that gas mileage takes a hit.

Push the start button, and the QX80 rumbles to life. The V-8's exhaust note is more lush and refined than NASCAR race-ready. It's a strong, silent type of powertrain.

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2016 INFINITI QX80

Comfort & Quality

Plush and exclusive on the inside, the 2016 QX80 has good space for up to eight.

Seating in the 2016 Infiniti QX80 is comfortable all around, with room for up to eight. The front seats are luxurious and have numerous power adjustments and plenty of space in all directions—except possibly at the knees, where bigger passengers might make contact with the 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 isn't just useful for children (three will fit across), but a pair of adults will fit as well. Second-row seating has ample room, but 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.

With the power-folding third-row seat up, Infiniti counts 16.7 cubic feet of cargo space, about the same as the trunk of a full-size sedan. With the second- and third-row seats down, the QX80 has 95.1 cubic feet of storage space, which is plentiful. Loading is simple enough and the power tailgate relieves lightweights and shorties from having to jump and hang on for closure.

The QX80 is also plush and exclusive inside. Despite the space, distinctive materials are the real star inside.

That's even more the case for the Limited model and the Signature Edition. In the Limited, you get 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. The Signature Edition has a Saddle Tan high-contrast interior.

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2016 INFINITI QX80

Safety

Infiniti loads up the QX80 with safety technology, but there are no crash-test scores.

The 2016 Infiniti QX80 comes standard with dual front, side, and curtain airbags, plus stability control, anti-lock brakes, active headrests, and tire-pressure monitors.

In lieu of a traditional rearview camera, Infiniti equips the QX80 with its surround-view camera system, a set of lenses that stitches together a set of exterior views for a 360-degree look at potential obstacles. The system comes with cross-traffic alerts.

A Driver Assistance package adds back-up collision intervention, a blind-spot monitor, forward collision warning with emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and Distance Control Assist.

The Deluxe Technology package also adds lane departure warning and prevention, blind spot intervention, front pre-crash seatbelts, and an adaptive front lighting system with auto-leveling headlights. The lane departure prevention system 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.

The Infiniti QX80 has not 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.

We recommend that you consider your driving position, and outward visibility in general in the QX80. Rearward vision can be dicey, especially if you're a shorter driver carrying a full load of passengers.

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2016 INFINITI QX80

Features

Well equipped and upscale, the 2016 Infiniti QX80 has all the features you'd expect in the class.

At may not be as loaded to the gills are the Cadillac Escalade or Land Rover Range Rover, but the 2016 Infiniti QX80 has plenty of equipment.

Standard features in the QX80 include a power tailgate, a sunroof, 20-inch wheels, leather upholstery, navigation with a hard drive for maps and music, DVD audio and satellite radio, Bluetooth with audio streaming, keyless ignition, and USB connectivity for phones and audio players. Buyers can opt for a three-place bench seat in place of the dual buckets for the second row, at no charge. Also standard is a surround-view camera system with cross-traffic alerts.

A Driver Assistance package adds rear automatic emergency braking, a blind-spot monitor, forward collision warning with emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and adaptive cruise control.

A Deluxe Technology package comes with a Hydraulic Body Motion Control system; heated and cooled front seats; semi-aniline leather upholstery; Stratford Burl wood trim; second-row footwell lighting; an advanced climate Control System with auto recirculation, a Plasmacluster air purifier and a grape polyphenol filter; headlight washers; a 15-speaker Bose surround sound audio system; lane departure warning and prevention; blind spot intervention; front pre-crash seatbelts; an adaptive front lighting system with auto-leveling headlights; upgraded door panel and seat sew pattern; and chrome mirror caps.

A Theater package includes dual 7.0-inch rear screens, two wireless headphones, a remote control, auxiliary inputs for gaming systems, a 120-volt power outlet, heated second-row seats, and remote tip-up second-row seats.

The Limited model features 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. It also gets the equipment from the Deluxe Technology package and the Theater package.

For 2016, Infiniti adds a limited edition of 1,000 Signature Edition models. These come with the Driver Assistance package, the split bench rear seat, Saddle Tan high-contrast interior, bodyside moldings, and chrome mirror caps.

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2016 INFINITI QX80

Fuel Economy

Big and heavy, the 2016 QX80 is hard on gasoline and there is no diesel or hybrid option in sight.

If you buy a QX80, don't expect even decent fuel economy. 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. Those numbers are horrible if you aren't putting butts in seats or loading the QX80 with cargo, but they can be acceptable if you use the QX80 to do the work for which it was built. 

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

Infiniti has no plans for hybrid or diesel QX80 'utes here in the U.S.

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Styling 7
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 8
Features 9
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