The Infiniti QX80 has always been a big truck focused on telling everyone that you have arrived. Hard to miss with a polarizing design, it was the truck of choice for people who wanted to be noticed. Now it arrives with subtle tweaks to its exterior that makes it easier on the eyes. But there’s more to talk about than just its new look.
The smoothed-over front and rear bumpers help make the truck look like the rest of the Infiniti lineup. The refinements also mean that the weird portholes on the front fender are no longer there and have been replaced with a sleek-looking vent. The headlights also have a new design, mimicking the intricate details of a human eye. Along with the fog lights and tail lights, they’re LED powered, making them extra bright and giving the truck a unique light signature. Rounding out the exterior package are newly available and very imposing 22-inch wheels, although 20-inchers are standard.
Great Interior Details and Quality
Infiniti also spruced up the interior, but there’s no denying it still looks pretty tired. There are a ton of buttons and knobs in the center of the dash, and the eight-inch touchscreen looks dated as well but works as expected. There’s also a control knob to operate the infotainment for people who don’t like touchscreens (or people who hate seeing fingerprints or smudges on the screen).
Infiniti counters the dated layout with a completely stunning interior, however. There are three color choices for the leather seats, which all look great thanks to fancy quilted stitching and piping. These are accented by high-quality woodgrain trim, which helps the interior pop. Infiniti uses a soil and stain resistant coating on the seats, console, and armrest, which will be handy for parents, messy drivers, or drivers with messy friends, so mostly everyone. It’s also going to prevent denim dye transfer to keep the interior looking fresh and spiffy for as long as possible.
Passengers Get Lots of Love Too
The luxury found in the front seats is also available in the rear seats. There’s a ton of space for second-row passengers, but don’t tell the folks in the third row, who will likely get jealous because they were shoved in the back with limited legroom. The third-row passengers also don’t get to enjoy the new rear-seat entertainment option. Two high-definition eight-inch screens are found behind the front headrests, and there’s also HDMI ports and available onboard wifi if your DVD box set of Gilmore Girls has failed to entertain your passengers. There’s also a huge console in the second row that can stash all sorts of gadgets.
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Getting into the seats is easy thanks to wide side-steps and easily foldable second-row seats. The third row can also be folded from the cargo areas with handy power buttons.
Comfy, plush and full of ways to amuse passengers, the drivers of the QX80 may have a hard time seeing behind these luxurious thrones, as having many passengers can impact precious rearward visibility. Fortunately, Infiniti thought of this and flipping a switch on the rear-view mirror activates a screen that’s connected to a rearview camera mounted to the inside of the rear window. Unlike what we’ve seen on GM products such as the Chevy Bolt and Cadillac CT6, the Infiniti camera features a fairly narrow field of vision and is significantly zoomed in, giving an unreasonable sense of distance to whatever is behind you. The normal rear-view camera that shows up on the infotainment screen is very usable, and there’s a 360-degree, around-view camera that helps drivers place the car very easily.
Safety Systems Galore
Infiniti has always led the pack with futuristic driving aids, and they also come in handy on the big truck. The forward collision system uses fancy radar tech that can see two cars ahead of the QX80, which helps it prepare better for an emergency stop. The car also uses those sensors to help with its adaptive cruise control system, which is very advanced and smooth. There’s also an excellent lane-keep system that helps maintain the truck’s place in the middle of the lane. It’s important to point out, however, that it is a big vehicle and the system will freak out in narrow lanes, sending out its siren song of warning beeps far too often. Finally, rounding out these safety systems is a blind spot warning system and backup collision intervention system, which are designed to prevent QX80 drivers from making pancakes out of other cars or objects.
On the Road and Under the Hood
These systems are pretty useful because the QX80 has a fairly old-school driving feel. The body-on-frame SUV feels very floaty and disconnected on the road. That’s comfortable for passengers, but a bit problematic for drivers. The steering is also light and vague, furthering this disconnected feel. However, Infiniti has two clever systems to help balance the QX80 out. I mean that literally, as there’s a automatic rear-leveling suspension system and hydraulic suspension system that work together to limit body roll when cornering and maintain an optimum ride height when towing.
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And this truck can certainly haul stuff with ease. It achieves an 8,500-lb tow rating that I’m sure customers will put to good use moving things like boats and trailers. Under the hood of the QX80 is a mighty 5.6-liter V8 engine that makes 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission, and the car can be had as a rear-wheel-drive model or with 4WD. We tested the 4WD model, which is the more popular choice for QX80 buyers. It features an auto mode, which primarily sends power to the rear wheels until slippage is detected and traction is needed up front. Then the system can send up to 50 percent of the power to the front axle. There’s also a 4WD High and 4WD Low settings that are better suited for rougher situations.
The powertrain is a highlight of the car. Powerful and smooth, the car gets up to speed quickly and without too much drama and noise. Unlike the light steering and floaty handling, the powertrain is confidence-inspiring and makes the truck feel capable.
That’s an important trait for any luxury vehicle or truck to provide, and it also helps that the QX80 is fairly attainable with a starting price of $65,745 for 2WD models, and $68,845 for 4WD models in the U.S. This is significantly cheaper than the alternatives from Cadillac, Lincoln, and Mercedes. However, it’s easy to get carried away on the options list and if you opt for every factory offering on the truck, you’ll spend $83,445.
The Verdict: 2018 Infiniti QX80 Review
Infiniti really delivered fantastic style and design to the 2018 QX80, while also packing the interior with a ton of luxury and technology. It’s going head-to-head with the all-new Lincoln Navigator, a large, more expensive SUV that’s looking to change the brand perception around Lincoln. While Lincoln sorts out its new offering, the Infiniti QX80 still carries over a number of familiar components but wraps it all up in a fancy package that’s still attractive.
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