Infiniti's full-size SUV, the QX80, got a major makeover for 2018, but drops back to a two-model lineup – one with rear-wheel drive and one with four-wheel drive.
There’s still room for up to eight people inside the QX80, or just seven with the optional pair of captain’s chairs for the second row, which is how our four-wheel-drive test vehicle was equipped.
Prices begin at $64,750 (plus $1,295 freight) for the two-wheel-drive model, providing luxury-minded buyers a well-equipped family hauler that makes no compromises on performance or safety. The four-wheel-drive model starts at $67,850.
Under the hood is an advanced 5.6-liter V-8 engine with 400 horsepower and 413 foot-pounds of torque, connected to a smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic transmission with Adaptive Shift Control and manual shift mode with Downshift Rev Matching.
Rear-wheel-drive models have EPA fuel-economy ratings of 14 mpg city/20 highway/16 combined; with four-wheel drive, the ratings are 13/19/15.
Although there are changes to the exterior with the makeover, this still looks quite like the previous model, which is typical of redesigns for expensive luxury vehicles. Manufacturers are careful not to make the previous generation look out of date when they undertake a redesign.
Infiniti says the new QX80 exterior takes the brand’s "Powerful Elegance" design language “in a bold new direction.” But the most-significant changes seem to be inside the vehicle, which includes refined components, high-quality materials, a hand-crafted finish and lots of new technology.
The new generation is 208.9 inches long (up from 208.3 inches), 75.8 inches high (including roof rails) and 79.9 inches wide, with a wheelbase of 121.1 inches, the same as the previous model. But Infiniti says the redesigned QX80 looks longer because of its “more clearly defined character lines,” along with new, larger functional fender vents.
The grille sits more vertically than before, and the front edge of the hood extends 3.5 inches further forward and sits 0.79 inches higher, creating a more squared-off, vertical front section and a visibly longer, flatter hood when viewed in profile, the automaker says.
Headlights wrap around the front corners of the hood and mesh into the fenders. Infiniti says the headlights are the latest take on the brand’s “human-eye” design, with “triple light guide” technology for maximum lighting and visibility from any angle. There are slim combination LED taillights.
The SUV has the newest vision of the Infiniti double-arch grille, which is taller and wider than that of the previous model.
New 20- and 22-inch wheel designs and exterior colors are offered, as well. The cast 20-inch alloy wheels with dark silver paint have a new six-spoke design, and come with 275/60 R20 H-rated all-season performance tires.
And the new forged-aluminum 22-inch wheels ($2,800, included on our vehicle) are painted in premium liquid metal for a high-gloss finish. The feature an 18-spoke design, and are fitted with low-profile 275/50 R22 all-season performance tires.
Three new exterior colors are offered: Moonstone White, Mineral Black and Champagne Quartz. There are nine colors available in all, including three metallic finishes (Liquid Platinum, Smoky Quartz and Graphite Shadow), two pearlescent finishes (Hermosa Blue and Mocha Almond), and solid Black Obsidian. Our test vehicle came in the Hermosa Blue, which was very dark blue.
The QX80’s interior features high-quality materials and looks and feels luxurious. It is hand-tailored and –crafted, Infiniti says. Seats, door panels and armrests are covered with perforated and quilted leather with contrast double-stitching and leather piping. Semi-aniline leather with color-contrast piping is optional.
A new premium Saddle Brown leather interior, included on our tester, has black contrast stitching and piping. Also available is Wheat or Graphite upholstery, in standard leather or premium semi-aniline leather. The Wheat semi-aniline leather comes with dark gray stitching and piping; the Graphite leather gets medium gray stitching and piping.
The new leather-wrapped shifter also has contrast-stitching, and the steering wheel has the same color-contrast leather as the rest of the interior. Higher-density padding makes leather surfaces firmer to the touch.
An optional Theater Package (premium rear entertainment system, $2,450), included on our tester, has higher-resolution eight-inch screens in the backs of the front seats. The InTouch infotainment system has been updated, allowing drivers to personalize driving characteristics and the cabin environment using the 8.0-inch dash touch screen, as well as through buttons beneath the screen and on the steering wheel.
New features include Remote Engine Start and Remote Horn and Lights.
There are now more interior storage trays and cubbies. The center console now has a larger smartphone storage area, and the twin front cupholders can accommodate two 44-ounce cups with handles. The USB port has also been relocated to the opposite side of the center console, making it easier to reach.
Storage under the front passenger armrest has been expanded, with the underside of the lid reshaped to create a 5.4-liter compartment. It’s 9.4 inches high, and can hold three upright 1.0-liter bottles. The space is shaped to accommodate tablet devices such as the iPad Air, iPad Air 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, standing vertically.
There are storage areas for bottles and other items in all four side doors, and a second-row center console on some models to hold mobile devices and other valuables.
Plenty of cargo space is provided, with 49.6 cubic feet when the third row seat is folded down. With the third seat in place, there is still 16.6 cubic feet of storage space – about the same as a big sedan. With rear and middle-row seats folded, there is 95.1 cubic feet of cargo space.
Driver-assist and safety technologies ($2,900 extra, included on our tester) bring Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning and Intervention and Backup Collision Intervention.
An optional Smart Rear View Mirror (part of the $5,700 Deluxe Technology Package, included on our vehicle) turns into a monitor at the touch of a button, displaying an uninterrupted view to the rear from a camera in the upper rear windshield.
Despite this being essentially a closed-in pickup truck, the QX80 had a smooth, quiet and comfortable ride, even on some rough pavement we encountered on a weekend family road trip.
There was never a lack of power, even on mountain grades, even though this is a heavy vehicle. It can tow trailers weighing up to 8,500 pounds.
The Rear Auto-Leveling Suspension automatically adjusts to maintain optimum ride height with cargo in the trunk or a trailer on tow.
QX80’s available All-Mode 4WD is a full-feature four-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing for rugged trail driving. But I don't recommend the QX80 for serious off-roading because it's too big for tight spots, and too expensive to risk getting it banged up.
The four-wheel-drive system has low-range gearing for hills, sand and mud. In automatic mode (high range only), the system can send up to half of the power to the front wheels; in normal mode, the rear wheels get the power.
Both rear- and four-wheel-drive models come with Hill Start Assist, which prevents rollback when the vehicle is stopped on a hill and the driver releases the foot brake.
Among standard safety features are four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution; electronic stability control; roof-mounted side-curtain air bags for all three rows; seat-mounted front side air bags; and tire-pressure monitoring. Also included are self-dimming outside mirrors.
Up to eight people can ride in a QX80, although our tester came with the optional seven-passenger seating arrangement, which is available with no extra charge. This brings two comfortable captain’s chairs in the middle row to replace the standard three-person bench. There is a three-person bench seat in the third row, and dual bucket seats in the front.
Everyone on board has comfortable seating, even in the third row.
Among other standard features are heated/power-folding outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, courtesy lights and reverse tilt-down feature; body-color running boards and integrated front and rear splash guards in the wheel arches; roof rails; a power/sliding/tinted glass moon roof; and a power rear liftgate.
The adaptive self-leveling headlights are designed to move slightly in the same direction as the vehicle to provide illumination of the area into which the car is turning.
The standard Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation System includes a backup-camera along with the Around View Monitor system.
Our test vehicle also came with a built-in Wi-Fi system ($450); roof rail cross bars ($400); illuminated kick plates ($465); Welcome Lighting ($425); and a Cargo Package ($225), with cargo mat and net and a first-aid kit.
Total sticker price for our well-equipped and luxurious four-wheel-drive QX80 was $84,660, including freight.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.
2018 Infiniti QX80
The package:Full-size, seven- or eight-passenger, five-door, rear- or four-wheel-drive, V-8 powered, premium sport utility vehicle.
Highlights:Redesigned for 2018, the QX80 is a premium family hauler with lots of power, a smooth ride, and a long list of available high-tech features.
Negatives:Can get pricey with all the extras.
Power/torque:400 HP./413 foot-pounds.
Brakes, front/rear:Disc/disc, antilock.
Curb weight:5,644 pounds (2WD), 5,888 pounds (4WD).
Cargo capacity:16.6 cubic feet (behind third row); 49.6 cubic feet (behind second row); 95.1 cubic feet (second and third rows folded).
Electronic stability control:Standard.
Side air bags: Front seat-mounted, three-row side curtain.
Towing capacity: 8,500 pounds.
EPA fuel economy:14 mpg city/20 highway/16 combined (2WD); 13/19/15 (4WD).
Fuel capacity/type:26 gallons/premium recommended, but not required.
Base prices:$64,750 (2WD); $67,850 (4WD), plus $995 freight.
Price as tested:$84,660, including freight and options (4WD).
Major competitors:Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon, Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Ford Expedition, Audi Q7, Toyota Sequoia, Nissan Armada Platinum.
On the Road rating:9.3 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.