EDITOR WES RAYNAL: I remember the big Infiniti QX56 we had in the long-term fleet. That one was a monstrosity and so is this 2014 Infiniti QX80, which is the vehicle formerly known as the QX56. Its giant size is both positive and negative. Positive because I like big trucks (love the Chevy Suburban for example), negative because it’s so freaking big…
Underneath is the Nissan Patrol, a big full-frame SUV we don’t get here. The exterior is all Infiniti. The styling is among the more blinged-out vehicles there is, and the interior is good looking with nice materials. As I’ve said before, I like Nissan’s center stack/screen. It’s intuitive and easy to use, and the stereo is rocking. I used this great big beast to haul people around over the weekend and everyone who got in it commented almost immediately about how nice the interior is. I even threw some teenagers in the way back and received no legroom complaints.
The V8 -- all 400 hp of it -- is smooth as is the auto transmission. Shifts are imperceptible, and get this thing up above 3,500 rpm and there’s actually some grunt (well, at least inline with other trucks weighing in at 5,500 big ones) and some hot rod-like sounds coming from the exhaust.
It wallows a bit as far as handling goes and the steering is really light at low speeds and doesn’t firm up much as speeds rise. I suppose in a truck this big and heavy that’s a positive. Seems to me if the engineers wanted to coddle me with a soft ride, they succeeded. It’s really quiet on the road, double glass and the like…
There’s really nothing you could do with the QX you couldn’t also do with a JX (now called QX60) except tow a bunch more with this. It will haul around 8,500 pounds, according to Infiniti. I can’t think of anything needing towing weighing much more than that -- should be more than adequate. If, say, you have a horse trailer or a boat or classic/race car, this is as fine a tower as you can get. That said, you could do it all in Chevy Suburban for thousands less, as the dealers like to say.
Overall, I’m torn. The QX80 is huge, expensive, and the mileage ain’t great. On the other hand, it’s so well suited for its purposes, it’s easy to love the comfort, luxury and utility.
The QX80 is good for hauling around 8,500 lbs.PHOTO BY INFINITI
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: This Infiniti QX80 is a big, freaking bus of a vehicle. But surprisingly, it’s easier to maneuver than you might think. On the way home, I was moving through traffic with relative ease, and backing out of a parking spot is a cinch with the hundred or so cameras poking out of every sheetmetal crevasse. Is that a vagrant walking up toward my rear quarter panel from 100 yards away? Yes, yes it is.
Space is plentiful, obviously, and I like that you can fold the back seats with a button in the front. That definitely makes entry into the third row easier.
The 5.6-liter V8 moves this SUV around easily. I had no trouble getting up to freeway speed, or hitting a gap between two cars. Unlike our long-term Mercedes-Benz GL350 Bluetec, the throttle sensitivity is just right. The GL takes a full beat before it goes anywhere, but this is nearly instant. It’s naturally aspirated, of course, and the Merc is a turbocharged diesel, but still.
As far as the interior goes, the ventilated seats work well, the radio is loud and connected instantly with my Apple iPod, and the sunroof adds to the open cabin. With all the windows down and the roof open, you can get a nice little breeze flowing through.
This QX is a tough sell overall, unless you really love the styling. The Chevrolet Yukon and Suburban, which are getting really luxurious these days, start at $50K. The Cadillac Escalade is about the same as the QX, but offers more standard styling, and the GL starts at $63K for the diesel V6 and the GL450 starts at about $65K.
The QX80's interior is well assembled and comfortable, provided you like the swoopy styling.PHOTO BY INFINITI
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: Need massive road presence? American SUVs too butch for you? The 2014 Infiniti QX80 is definitely a more truck-like offering than the Mercedes-Benz GL and a lot more plush than the Lexus LX570.
The blobby cetacean front end doesn’t sit well with me -- it looks weird enough on the Q70 and doesn’t mix well with the straight, square greenhouse here.
The interior is nice, though. Typical Infiniti swoops and curves, but it’s all well assembled and comfortable. The 5.6-liter V8/seven-speed automatic is as smooth as anything Nissan/Infiniti makes -- smoother and more effortless than GM’s SUV powertrains, that’s for sure. It’s matched by an equally smooth ride. I’m not sure how a full body-on-frame truck soaks up potholes so readily, but good job on that.
In the end, I’m not sure how you justify this vehicle except as an attempt to round out Infiniti’s model lineup Gotta have that honkin’ SUV up there to compete with Lexus, I guess. Or at least you had to have it at one point; times have changed, and the automaker is selling less than 1,000 of these per month. That’s nearly four times the number of Lexus LXs sold, but about a tenth of the RXs moved in the same time period.
At $80,000 per, I understand why buyers aren’t snapping these SUVs up despite the build quality and comfort. Perhaps Infiniti would be better served by putting its resources into its sedans and crossovers.
The QX80's powertrain never feels sluggish or lacking.PHOTO BY INFINITI
SENIOR MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: Only a quick jaunt for me in the 2014 Infiniti QX80 but it’s a shame Nobuhiro Tajima does not count a Nissan/Infiniti association on his resume because a “Monster Edition” QX seems like a natural -- mostly because I thought to myself “what a monster” on more than one occasion while both looking at it and driving it.
I share many of Wes’ feelings here, but simultaneously I wonder how relevant the price-shopping attitude is when talking about this SUV compared to a Chevy Yukon or Suburban. A Porsche 911 is substantially more expensive than a Chevrolet C7 Corvette, and while on paper they are matched incredibly well, plenty of people are willing to pay the premium in order to enjoy the “Porscheness” of the Carrera. It’s difficult for some to imagine the differences between the two, but once you drive each they become apparent.
Likewise, the QX certainly carries a more prestigious name -- well, theoretically; it’s no secret Infiniti continues to struggle some with its brand image here -- and utterly off-the-wall styling compared to the GM’s big new SUVs. From a purely utilitarian, value-driven equation, it loses out in that comparo, but the already discussed luxury, feel and smoothness impresses nonetheless. Lately I find myself liking Infiniti’s SUVs more than its cars, which might speak somewhat to the branding issue (what is Infiniti trying to be and what does the name stand for, exactly?) but regardless, I’m not looking for a sports car in this class. You’d shop Porsche’s Cayenne and other hot-rod utes if that were the case, not a vehicle such as this. And if you’re hungry for a smorgasbord of nice materials, loads of room, entertainment systems, a strong drivetrain and out-of-the-box exterior lines, the QX80 might just be your new best friend.
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