2015 Infiniti QX80Posted on October 22nd, 2015
Flagship full-size sport-utility vehicle
By Nina Russin
The QX80 is Infiniti’s offering for large families who don’t want to sacrifice style for interior space. With seating for up to seven passengers and a powerful 5.6-liter aluminum direct injection V-8 engine, Infiniti’s full-size sport utility vehicle is essentially a Lear jet for the open road.
The Limited grade raises the bar further with unique exterior colors accented by dark chrome trim and dark 22-inch wheels, semi-aniline leather interior, all-wheel drive with snow mode and tow mode, self-leveling suspension, electronically controlled two-speed transfer case and adaptive headlamps.
Base price for the Limited is $88,850. Final MSRP including the $995 destination charge is $89,845.
Test drive in Arizona
During our Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year program in October I am both team leader and Sherpa. The vehicle I drive during that week must have the versatility to carry multiple passengers and a lot of gear on a variety of road surfaces and occasional bad weather.
This year was especially challenging with an expanded two-day program and unusual weather patterns that brought a dust storm and torrential rain to the valley. The QX80 was the refuge from the storm: a luxurious yet bulletproof vehicle that took on the haboob, graded dirt roads, boxes of traffic barricades and multiple runs to and from the airport with aplomb.
One of the biggest problems with full-size sport-utility vehicles is visibility. Unlike minivans, sport-utility vehicles have high beltlines and narrow greenhouses. Thick C and D pillars create large blind spots towards the rear: a potentially dangerous situation on the highway.
Infiniti engineers addressed this issue in the QX80 with a variety of active safety features including an around-view monitor that gives the driver a 360-degree view of the car’s perimeter when he shifts into reverse, rear-view monitor, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning with emergency braking and adaptive headlamps.
When you’re driving a car that’s 209-inches long and weighs close to 6,000 pounds, it’s nice to know that the car has your back.
The 5.6-liter gasoline engine doesn’t yield particularly good fuel economy and the car’s 26-gallon fuel tank is on the small side, considering the car’s 15 mile-per-gallon average fuel economy. Engineers were faced with the challenge of maximizing range without adding significant weight and losing cargo space.
The seven-speed automatic transmission helps with large overdrive gears that extend highway fuel economy to 19 miles-per-gallon according to EPA estimates. Intelligent cruise control functions down to a full stop for use in rush-hour traffic. Still, I found myself refueling more frequently than I would have liked.
From a performance stance, the powertrain is well suited for the job, with strong, linear acceleration and smooth progression through the gears. The engine’s 413 foot-pounds of peak torque provides excellent power off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging onto the highway.
A double wishbone four-wheel independent suspension is compact, yet effective in providing a comfortable ride for all-three rows of passengers. Infiniti’s hydraulic body motion control system comes standard on the Limited grade, as does an auto-leveling rear axle, making real time adjustments to enhance directional control during towing.
A power rack-and-pinion steering system is speed sensitive, offering more assist at low speeds and a pleasantly heavy feel on the highway. I doubt that most customers buying a $90,000 sport-utility vehicle with running boards and 22-inch rims will take it off-roading, so one has to wonder whether the two-speed transfer case is really necessary. The car handled just fine in the high gear range traveling over unimproved dirt roads during our event.
Snow mode with hill start assist gives the driver additional control when winter gets nasty.
The QX80’s high seating position and narrow greenhouse makes it harder to see low-profile passenger cars in the surrounding lanes. Fortunately the blind spot monitoring illuminates LED signals in the A pillars when cars in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots.
Parking is relatively easy assuming the driver can find a space large enough to accommodate the QX80’s length and width.
After dark, standard adaptive front lighting with auto leveling dims the high beams if cars approach from the opposite direction. LED headlamps provide a bright beam of light with minimal energy usage to improve fuel economy.
Its quilted aniline leather seating, Bose surround-sound audio system and ambient lighting give the QX80 interior a living room on wheels feel, assuming that living room is in a very expensive home.
Customers in this price range expect amenities such as keyless start, rear seat entertainment, Bluetooth, satellite radio, navigation, real-time weather and traffic, rain sensing wipers, panoramic moonroof and power liftgate: the Infiniti QX80 Limited comes with all of the above as standard equipment.
Because of its high seating position, the running boards that light up after dark are more of a necessity than an option. The cargo floor is also high: something that might make the rear bay difficult to access for smaller adults.
Power folding rear seats extend the cargo floor for larger items. The QX80 easily meets our bicycle friendly standards. A standard tow hitch gives the sport-utility 8500-pound towing capacity.
The Infiniti QX80 Limited comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, active front head restraints, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning with assist, rearview and around view monitors, forward collision warning with emergency braking, hill start assist and tire pressure monitoring.
The premium QX80 sport-utility vehicle is on display at Infiniti dealerships nationwide.
Like: An extremely luxurious sport-utility vehicle with all-wheel drive for good performance in four-season climate. The QX80 meets our bicycle friendly and towing standards.
Dislike: High cargo floor makes the back of the car more difficult to load.
Base price: $88,850
As tested: $89,845
Horsepower: 400 Hp @ 5,800 rpm
Torque: 413 lbs.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 13/19 mpg city/highway2015, Luxury 2015, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Infiniti, performance, pricing, standard safety