2017 INFINITI QX80 Review

Consumer Reviews
1 Review
2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Senior Editor
June 15, 2017

Buying tip

The available hydraulic suspension checks some of the body lean, but we aren't convinced it improves the ride and is worth the price.

The 2017 Infiniti QX80's handling and fuel economy suffer for its size and weight, but it combines power, seating for eight, and towing capability in a luxurious package.

The Infiniti QX80 is full-size traditional body-on-frame SUV that competes at the high end of the market. Formerly known as the QX56, the QX80's mechanicals might no longer be in vogue. All three models—QX80, QX80 AWD, and QX80 Limited—offer seating for up to eight and big V-8 power. A top rival for the Cadillac Escalade, the QX80 is the best Infiniti SUV to date and is superior to at least a few of its competitors.

The QX80 was redesigned for the 2011 model year, moving from the Titan pickup platform to the architecture of the Nissan Patrol. For 2017, it receives minor upgrades. The forward emergency braking system adds pedestrian detection, trailer sway control is added to all models, and Infiniti has made some changes to the interior and exterior color palettes.

We give the QX80 a score of 6.2, with kudos for its big interior space and lovely interior fitments. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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Styling and performance

Given its Nissan Patrol roots, 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 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. However, some might find the somewhat bulbous organic shapes off-putting, the forehead overly tall, and the fender vents cheesy (even though one is functional).

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.

All 2017 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 power figures might not be as impressive as those of some competitors, but the V-8 is strong enough to tow up to 8,500 pounds and provide adequate performance for this big and burly three-row SUV. Zero to 60 mph takes less than seven seconds, but fuel economy is no surprise at a low 16 mpg combined.

Ride quality is excellent, even if you get the available 22-inch wheels, but the handling is clumsy. There’s an automatic leveling setup on the rear end for towing duty, as well as available Hydraulic Body Motion Control, hydraulic pressure at individual wheels to help damp out some of the excessive body lean. The latter is nice feature, but it might not be worth the extra cost. The QX80's steering feel is light—perhaps too light—but its brakes are big and powerful.

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, thanks in part to the QX80’s standard hill-start-assist electronics.

Comfort, safety, and features

Inside, the QX80 is spacious, 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. As for the second row, there's plenty of space for two adults (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's 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 a voluminous 95.1 cubic feet.

The QX80 remains a standout for those who want a vehicle that feels plush and exclusive. Standard features include leather upholstery, navigation with a hard drive for maps and music, DVD audio and satellite radio, Bluetooth with audio streaming, a sunroof, a power tailgate, and 20-inch alloy wheels. 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, and leather-wrapped speaker grilles for the instrument panel are among the many dress-ups.

Several safety features are offered, including adaptive headlights that automatically dip the high beams if another vehicle is approaching, lane departure warning and prevention, a backup collision warning system, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitors, and a forward collision warning system with emergency braking and the aforementioned pedestrian detection. We are also fans of the standard surround-view camera system.

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.

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2017 INFINITI QX80

Styling

Its organic shapes suffer from some some lapses in good design taste, but the QX80 still manages to blend classic SUV design with glamor.

From a design standpoint, the cockpit of the QX80 is the highlight. It is as radiant as that of the Mercedes-Benz GLS, about as refined as 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 a recent 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.

On the outside, 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 QX80'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, and its 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, where the QX80 also features LEDs for the headlamps, turn signals, and fog lamps.

We rate the QX80 a 6 for Design, giving it a point for its interior. We'll call the exterior's odd shapes and upscale cues a wash. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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2017 INFINITI QX80

Performance

The QX80's V-8 power is strong, but it needs to be to push this much weight. Handling is cumbersome but more controlled than it could be.

All 2017 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 for the class, but this V-8 is strong enough to provide adequate performance. 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.

The QX80's smooth, strong engine is more than offset by the cumbersome handling that comes from a heavy, truck-type platform. In our new scoring scale, that equates to a 4 rating. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

On the road, it's easy to feel the QX80's size and heft. It's hard to park, and it doesn't like to be driven fast through corners, leaning and even squealing if you go too fast.

However, Infiniti offers a Hydraulic Body Motion Control system that makes this big beast more controlled than it should be. It uses hydraulic pressure at individual wheels to help damp out body lean. There's also an automatic leveling setup on the rear end for towing duty; the QX80 will drag 8,500 pounds behind it.

Steering feel is too light for our tastes, but the QX80’s brakes are big and powerful.

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 low gearing 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, and is aided by the standard hill-start-assist electronics.

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2017 INFINITI QX80

Comfort & Quality

The 2017 Infiniti QX80 offers space for up to eight in a plush and exclusive environment.

The 2017 Infiniti QX80 is plush and exclusive inside. Despite its abundant space, distinctive, high-quality materials are the real star inside.

In our 2017 scoring system, we give the QX80 a point for the interior quality, a point for front seat comfort, a point for overall seating capacity, and a point for cargo space, bringing the total to 9. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Limited model is even more decadent than the base models. 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.

Seating in the 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 sides. We're big fans of ventilated seats, and the QX80 offers them; they're excellent investments for those who live in the South.

The second-row seats have ample room. The captain's chairs are more comfortable than the no-charge bench seat, but they reduce seating capacity by one. 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.

That third-row seat isn't just useful for children (three will fit across), but a pair of adults will fit as well. You'd be pushing it with three adults, though.

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 and on par for the class. Loading is simple enough and the power tailgate relieves lightweights and shorties from having to jump and hang on for closure.

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2017 INFINITI QX80

Safety

While it hasn't been crash tested, the 2017 Infiniti QX80's large size and abundant safety features should make it quite safe.

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'll assign it a rating when more data is in. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2017 Infiniti QX80 comes standard with dual front and side airbags, as well as curtain-side airbags that cover all three seating rows. It also has anti-lock brakes, stability control, tire-pressure monitors, active headrests, and, for 2017, trailer sway control.

Instead of a traditional rearview camera, the QX80 goes one better with a surround-view camera system that uses several cameras to stitch 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 adaptive cruise control, back-up collision intervention, blind-spot monitors, and forward collision warning that comes with automatic emergency braking and adds pedestrian detection for 2017.

The Deluxe Technology package includes blind spot intervention, front pre-crash seatbelts, lane departure warning and prevention, and an adaptive front lighting system with auto-leveling headlights. The lane departure prevention system gently nudges the QX80 back into a lane when sensors think it is 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.

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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2017 INFINITI QX80

Features

Like a luxury SUV should be, the 2017 Infiniti QX80 is loaded with upscale and high-tech features.

Some rivals like the Cadillac Escalade or Land Rover Range Rover may come with more standard equipment, but the 2017 Infiniti QX80 has plenty of features of its own.

We rate the QX80 a 7 out of 10 for features. In our new rating system, we start at 5 and add a point for a rich feature set and a modern infotainment system. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

It is offered in three models: QX80, QX80 AWD and QX80 AWD Limited.

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

A Deluxe Technology package comes with a Hydraulic Body Motion Control system; heated and cooled front seats; semi-aniline leather upholstery; second-row footwell lighting; Stratford Burl wood trim; a 15-speaker Bose surround sound audio system; lane-departure warning and active lane control; and an adaptive front lighting system with auto-leveling headlights.

A Driver Assistance package adds adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with emergency braking, rear automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitors. New for 2017, the forward collision warning system adds pedestrian detection.

A Theater package includes dual 7.0-inch rear screens, two wireless headphones, a remote control, a 120-volt power outlet, auxiliary inputs for gaming systems, 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 interior dress-ups, while the exterior features dark chrome accents, darkened headlight and taillight lenses, stainless steel running board caps, under-running board welcome lighting, and 22-inch wheels. It also gets the equipment from the Deluxe Technology package and the Theater package.

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5

2017 INFINITI QX80

Fuel Economy

One of the drawbacks of large, truck-based SUVs is poor fuel economy, and the 2017 Infiniti QX80 fits that bill.

Buyers opting for a full-size, truck-based SUV like the Infiniti QX80 shouldn't expect even decent fuel economy. We give it a 5 based on what the EPA said for the identical model sold last year. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2017 Infiniti QX80 is rated by the EPA at 14 mpg city, 20 highway, 16 combined with rear-wheel drive and 13/19/15 mpg with all-wheel drive.

Those numbers are quite low, they make more sense if you are putting butts in seats, loading the QX80 with cargo, and/or towing the family boat.

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

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June 9, 2018
2017 INFINITI QX80 AWD

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I don't get the negative or lukewarm reviews of this car. I simply love it. It's big and comfortable. It handles like a sports car - cornering is safe and well controlled. Braking is solid and sure. GAs... + More »
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6.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 4
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety N/A
Features 7
Fuel Economy 5
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