First Drive Review 2017 Infiniti QX80: When a minivan just won’t do

(Infiniti)

(Infiniti)

When you become an adult, you have to give up a lot. No more lazy summers, no more having your parents do everything for you. Yup, adulting is hard; it comes with responsibility, paying bills, raising kids paying taxes. For many American families, it also usually comes with an SUV of some sort. No sports car, no cool compact hatchback, nope, it’s all about function, carrying kids and groceries, and whatever else is needed to support the suburban family.

For many years that Chariot of Responsibility was the minivan. A somewhat embarrassing addition to the automotive landscape that meant a man had given up his man-card and relinquished control of his life to a soccer mom.

In the last few years however the minivan has started to fall by the wayside, replaced by the ever-increasing all-purpose SUVs and crossovers. Men everywhere are starting to take up their man-card again, hitting the road in vehicles that they aren’t ashamed to be seen in.

In the politically correct world we live in though, these ever-increasing all-purpose SUVs and crossovers have been somewhat mild incantations.  Other than the Rogue and Juke, the SUVs are sedate versions of sedans; puffed up versions of their four wheeled cousins. Even the Rogue and Juke, though standing on their own, are small, quietly whispering as they blend in with the landscape. They resemble those unassuming people in a crowd that go unnoticed, and are softly saying “excuse me, pardon me, thank you very much”, as they try to get through.

There are those who defy this convention though.  Big burly guys who push their way through the crowd with nothing more than a grunt as they pass.  Chief among these is the Cadillac Escalade, the big flashy ‘whip’ used by rappers and rich celebrities to show off their bling.

There is another; the QX80 by Infiniti. It’s big, but not ostentatious, roomy, but not cavernous, shiny, but not flashy. In other words, it’s a big SUV that’s less politically correct and far from mild.

Infiniti delivered a 2017 QX80 for me to live with for a recent week. I also had a week with the 2016 last year, and the 2015 the year before that.  With that experience, I knew it would be a good week, and indeed it was.

Very little has changed for 2017. The model got a refresh in 2015, and all that has carried over to the 2017.  They’ve added Forward Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection to the Driver Assistance Package, Trailer Sway Control and some new color choices. Beyond that, what you get in the 2017 model is the same thing you got in 2015 and 2016.

You can still seat eight adults, and there is still the base with or without all-wheel drive and the Limited AWD models.

The base model is loaded with a ton of standard features: sunroof, automatic LED headlights, roof rails, power liftgate, keyless entry and ignition, front and rear parking sensors, automatic tri-zone climate control, leather upholstery, a power adjustable and heated steering wheel, an eight-way power-adjustable and heated driver seat with two-way power lumbar adjustment, and a six-way power front passenger seat. On the tech side there is Bluetooth, a 360-degree camera, navigation, 13-speaker Bose system with HD radio, CD player all controlled via an 8-inch touch screen.

(Infiniti)

(Infiniti)

Option packages include the Driver Assistance option (with what I refer to as a full “nanny” suite); it includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure with intervention, and such things as maximum speed notifications.  If you opt for the Driver Assistance package you can add the Theater suite, which has a duel screen entertainment system, heated second row seats and a 120-volt household-type power outlet. The Tire and Wheel package moves you up to 22-inch wheels from the 20-inch standard and adds all season performance tires.

You can move up to the Deluxe Technology package which adds adaptive front lights with washers, an upgraded climate control system and upgraded leather upholstery, Infiniti’s Hydraulic Body Motion Control suspension along with two more speakers in the sound system (15 total), ventilated front seats and some special wood trim.

The Limited has almost all of that plus adds some distinctive interior and exterior trim.

No matter the model, the great thing is that under the hood of all the QX80 lineup is a 5.6-liter V8 engine with a 7-speed transmission delivering 400-horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. No political correctness here, no ‘hybrid’, fuel saving Mother Earth loving shenanigans

My tester for the week was the AWD Limited which meant for the week I had all the power I could ever hope for, as well as the room to carry just about anyone, or anything. The exterior look of the QX80 leaves little doubt that this big SUV can’t deliver. Inside the controls are well laid out and easy to figure out. While roomy inside, there is not too much cavernous space; it feels roomy, yet as the same time cozy. On the road, the drive fools you into believing you are driving something smaller than you are.

Without all the flash of the Escalade, enough luxury to make you feel special and the room and power to do just about anything, the QX80 is the big roomy SUV that can be your Chariot of Responsibility without having to give up the man-card. Sure, it may be the big burly guy pushing through the crowd, but it’s the kind that will at least mumble “excuse me” once in a while.

The 2017 Infiniti QX80 AWD Limited
MSRP: $89,450
MSRP (as tested): $90,445
Engine: 5.6 liter V8 400hp @ 5800rpm, 413 lb-ft @ 4000rpm
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.): 13 mpg City/19 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. 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. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.

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