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.)
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.