First drive 2015 Infiniti QX80: Still big, but better

(Infiniti)

(Infiniti)

When last we drove the biggest SUV Infiniti makes the year was 2013 and the vehicle was called the QX56. It was by far the biggest non-pickup truck we had driven. We likened the interior to that of a Learjet and the drive a pleasant one with a commanding view. The exterior, well that was something that was polarizing, like a concrete block on wheels with some flashy bling in the way of chrome accents.

Fast forward two years. The QX56 is now the QX80. Infiniti refreshed it for 2015; the new version still looks like a concrete block on wheels, with a little less bling perhaps. Inside though Infiniti has continued the tradition of the previous model, a great interior; no matter what the outside might look like the interior is nothing short of stunning. For 2015, Infiniti added a long list of new enhancements led by a new a front fascia and grille, LED headlights and fog lights. Inside there is a new trim appearance. Added to the extensive list of technologies, there is now Forward Emergency Braking (FEB), Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW) and High Beam Assist.

Infiniti also added a new available QX80 Limited Package offers that adds unique exterior highlights, dark chrome 22-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, stainless steel running board caps with rubber grips, under running board welcome lighting, darkened headlight inner lens, darkened taillight inner lens, dark chrome A-pillar covers and six exterior colors, three of which – Imperial Black, Mocha Almond and Dakar Bronze – are exclusive to the Limited Package. The upgraded interior features semi-aniline Truffle Brown leather appointments with a quilted pattern, open pore matte finish ash wood trim, Ultrasuede® headliner and pillars, leather-covered grab handles and speaker grilles.

The package structure for 2015 has been revised as well.  Available packages include the new Driver’s Assistance Package, featuring Backup Collision Intervention, Blind Spot Warning, Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist and Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Emergency Braking and Predictive Forward Collision Warning. The new Deluxe Technology Package includes Adaptive Front lighting System, semi-aniline seating, Hydraulic Body Motion Control system, Advanced Climate Control System and Blind Spot Intervention.

The High Beam Assist headlight function, which is now standard on all models, uses a forward camera to read oncoming or upcoming traffic and automatically dips the high beams to the low beam setting. The high beam setting is restored when the traffic is clear, an Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS) with auto-leveling headlights and headlight washers are also available. Other exterior features include LED taillights, heated, power-folding sideview mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, courtesy lights and reverse tilt-down feature, body color running boards, body color integrated front and rear splashguards built into the wheel arches, roof rails, power sliding tinted glass moonroof, a power rear liftgate and flush surface front and rear sonar sensors. A front underbody spoiler, functional rear liftgate spoiler and redesigned side mirrors help provide aerodynamics of 0.36 Cd and zero lift.

The powerplant is still the same, a 5.6-liter V8 engine delivering 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque matched to a 7-speed automatic transmission with Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) and manual shift mode with Downshift Rev Matching (DRM). Our tester for the week was the all wheel drive version, a rearwheel model is available. Another thing that hasn’t changed is the fuel mileage.  The QX80 is still rated at 20 MPG highway and 14 MPG city or a 16 MPG combined.

The paltry fuel mileage though is not really a turnoff. After all this luxury SUV is marketed to those who could care very little about how much a gallon of gas costs (our tester topped out at an MSRP of nearly $90,000). It’s the drive that makes the QX80 shine. The 400 horses won’t leave any smoky burnouts, in fact it almost feels underpowered, but it’s adequate for everyday commuting.  While the exterior look may be polarizing ,It’s the luxury, the room, the commanding view that all combine to make the QX80 shine. For those who are in the market for a large luxury SUV the QX80 is a clear cut above the others like the Escalade, Lexus 570 or the Range Rover.  For the rest of us, a few days spent driving the QX80 makes us wish we belonged to those who can afford what the Infiniti QX80 is.

The 2015 Infiniti QX80
MSRP (AWD): $66,350
MSRP (as tested with all available packages): $89,500
Engine: V-8, 5.6 L 400hp @ 5,800 rpm, torque 413 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 7-Speed Automatic -inc: Adaptive Shift Control (ASC), manual shift mode w/Downshift Rev Matching, snow and tow modes and hill start assist
Fuel Mileage (EPA est.): 14 mpg City/20 mpg Hwy
Fuel Mileage (as tested in mixed conditions): 18 mpg

Interior Dimensions
Front Hip Room (in) 59.2
Third Head Room (in) 36.8
Front Leg Room (in) 39.6
Second Shoulder Room (in) 63.5
Third Hip Room (in) 48.8
Passenger Capacity 7
Second Head Room (in) 40
Third Leg Room (in) 28.8
Front Shoulder Room (in) 63.8
Second Hip Room (in) 58.4
Front Head Room (in) 39.9
Second Leg Room (in) 41
Third Shoulder Room (in) 60.5

Exterior Dimensions
Track Width, Front (in) 67.5
Width, Max w/o mirrors (in) 79.9
Wheelbase (in) 121.1
Track Width, Rear (in) 67.9
Height, Overall (in) 75.8
Length, Overall (in) 208.3
Min Ground Clearance (in) 9.2
Cargo Area Dimensions
Cargo Volume to Seat 3 (ft³) 16.6
Cargo Volume to Seat 1 (ft³) 95.1
Cargo Volume to Seat 2 (ft³) 49.6
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating Cap (lbs) 7300
Maximum towing capacity (lbs.) 8,500

Warranty
Basic Miles/km 60,000
Basic Years 4
Corrosion Miles/km Unlimited
Corrosion Years 7
Drivetrain Miles/km 70,000
Drivetrain Years 6
Roadside Assistance Miles/km Unlimited
Roadside Assistance Years 4

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Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. He served in support of Operation Just Cause, Desert Shield/Storm and ended his military career in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Greg has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology.

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