Full-Size SUV Delivers on Comfort and Luxury

 This full-size SUV shines from the inside out and delivers luxury on par with anything in its segment.

The Infiniti QX80 is a vehicle of contradictions and it always leaves me with mixed feelings. I’ve never been a fan of the exterior styling, yet the interior beckons with soft leather and wood trim. The V-8 engine guzzles fuel but it is extremely smooth and strong enough to tow 8,500 pounds. In summary, this full-size SUV shines from the inside out and delivers luxury on par with anything in its segment.

Styling is certainly subjective. Infiniti updated the QX80 with a new grille that reflects the design language of the Q50 sedan. It’s an improvement, for sure, but the big nose is still a bit imposing.

The QX80 used to be called the QX56. The new name is part of Infiniti’s revamped nomenclature. The SUV comes in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, with a direct-injection, 5.6-liter engine mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. The 400-horsepower V-8 can tow up to 8,500 pounds. Fuel economy is rated at 14 miles per gallon in the city and 20 on the highway. Base prices start at $63,250 for rear-wheel drive and $66,350 for all-wheel drive. The rear-wheel-drive test vehicle from Infiniti’s press fleet had a sticker price of $77,185.

On the road, the QX80 felt as if it were gliding over the pavement, even with the optional 22-inch wheels, yet the vehicle didn’t seem overly soft or mushy in turns. That’s a benefit of the optional hydraulic body motion control system that links shock absorbers from one side to those on the other, keeping body lean in check without forcing a stiff ride. The smooth ride was enhanced by a lack of wind and road noise.

The optional Driver’s Assistance Package includes blind-spot warning, backup collision avoidance intervention, forward emergency braking and forward predictive collision warning. The backup intervention applies the brakes if something is behind the vehicle, and forward emergency braking does the same when it senses an imminent collision.

The best part of the QX is the lush interior that has seating for eight with a second-row bench seat. Stratford Burl wood trim was a tasteful accent to the wheat-colored leather interior of the dark blue test vehicle. The fit and finish are all that one expects in a full-size luxury SUV. Standard equipment includes a navigation system, a Bose stereo with 13 speakers and an Around View monitor that gives a birds-eye view of the vehicle. Moving object detection alerts the driver to approaching vehicles in parking lots. Around View was especially helpful in tight confines.

The front seats could benefit from bottom cushions with deeper contours. The split-folding second seat had plenty of legroom, and the power-folding third seat was big enough to be usable. There is not much cargo space with the third seat in place.

The test vehicle was equipped with the theater package that had 7-inch monitors in the back of each front headrest. Games or videos can be watched separately on either screen.

Price The base price of the test car was $63,250. Options included the theater package, blind-spot monitor, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, upgraded Bose stereo with surround sound and 15 speakers, heated and cooled front seats and 22-inch wheels. The sticker price was $77,185.

Warranty Four years or 60,000 miles with a six-year, 70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

At a Glance

Point: The QX80 is one of the lesser-known luxury SUVs. The seats are as plush as fine furniture, and the cabin feels luxurious. The 400-horsepower engine is very smooth yet it can tow 8,500 pounds.

Counterpoint: The QX80 is expensive, the V-8 is not easy on gas and the styling is not my favorite.