Driven: 2017 Infiniti QX80 Limited

Written by Lee Bailie on .

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The Infiniti QX80 is a massive vehicle. I mean, seriously, this thing is like a house on wheels.

Pictures really don’t do it justice – they just hint at its massiveness. Standing beside it helps to convey its bulk, as does driving it, but because I drove it and you’re just reading about my account, I figure an (abridged) tale of the tape is most appropriate because numbers don’t lie, and the ones that pertain to the QX80 are staggering.

Chew on these stats for a moment:

Overall length: 5,305 mm (17.4 feet)
Overall width: 2,030 mm (6.65 feet)
Overall height (with roof rails): 1,925 mm (6.32 feet)
Step-in height: 568 mm (1.87 feet)
Curb weight: 2,671 kg (5,888 lbs.)

I could go on, but I you get the idea.

The QX80 is a three-row, seven / eight-passenger, body-on-frame SUV that gives new meaning to the utility part of sport utility vehicle. It has almost too much utility, a reality that smacks one in the face after climbing – climbing! – into the QX80’s driver’s seat and looking back towards the rear of the vehicle – it’s a long, long way to the third row.

The second generation, based on the global Nissan Patrol, began in 2010 when production was moved from the U.S. to Japan. Since then, it was renamed the QX80 (from the QX56) for the 2014 model year and received its most recent styling update in 2015.

Infiniti unveiled a next-gen concept, the QX80 Monograph, at the New York Auto Show in April, which Ignition was fortunate enough to attend. For more on that, click here.

In the meantime, the current gen chugs along with three variants available in Canada: seven-passenger, eight-passenger and Limited. The seven and eight-passenger are both priced at $75,650, while the Limited carries an MSRP of $93,800. The latter offers a lengthy list of extras for the additional $18K, including 22-inch wheels, ultra-suede headliner and pillars, ash wood trim inserts, and a slew of collision mitigation tech among other features.

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The only powertrain on offer is the 5.6-litre Endurance V8, designed and built in Decherd, Tenn. and shared with the Nissan Titan pick-up and full-size Armada SUV. In the QX80, the engine produces 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft. of torque and is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission.

From a design perspective, the QX80 is a giant, boxy vehicle with square proportions. While Infiniti designers have done their best to take the edge off the original’s rather brutal, slab-sided proportions, the QX80 is not a terribly attractive vehicle, even by big SUV standards.

It took me a while to get used to it, to be honest, what with its huge grille and relatively small offset headlights. And while I did get used to it during my five days of driving it, I’m still not in love with its looks. Infiniti has liberally applied chrome (mirror caps, grille, door trim, running boards, etc.) to jazz things up a bit, but it feels like window dressing – this QX80, while more attractive than QX56s of old, is not what I would consider to be a beautiful vehicle.

Climbing into the QX80’s massive cabin, one is immediately greeted with a wide array of pleasing design details and high-quality materials, from the fine grain Truffle Brown leather with contrast silver stitching seats to the open pore ash trim inserts, to the metal buttons and knobs on the centre stack. All of this looks and feels first rate – even the oval-shaped analogue clock, which has become a bit cliché in luxury vehicles these days.

Other nice touches on my Hermosa blue tester that impressed are heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, motorized third row seats, well-placed grab handles on the inside of the A-pillars and lots of useable storage (pockets, centre console bins, plus nine cupholders and four bottle holders).

As with other large SUVs and pick-up trucks, the seating position in the QX80 is high, but driver’s seat has 10-way adjustability and the steering column has powered tilting and telescoping, so I had little difficulty finding a comfortable driving position.

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After spending time behind the wheel, I began to really appreciate the merits of driving a large SUV. The QX80 offers a commanding view of the road ahead and because it’s so large, other vehicles tend to not encroach on its path – it usually gets a wide berth. This, combined with improved visibility (seeing and being seen) makes merging and passing less of a hassle than it tends to be in a smaller vehicle. As a compact coupe owner, the experience was a welcome change.

In terms of road manners, the QX80 offers a quiet, composed ride with reasonably smooth acceleration, braking and handling… for a giant SUV. Look, with such a high centre of gravity and so much weight to lug around, performance isn’t the QX80’s game.

It’s also worth mentioning that the QX80’s transfer case offers several 4WD settings (high, low and auto), along with snow and tow modes. And if you’re looking to take advantage of the vehicle’s 3,855 kg (8,500 lb.) towing capacity, an integrated class IV tow hitch with a seven-pin wiring harness and cover is also included.

With a vehicle like this, there are, of course, a few minuses that need to be considered.

First, at $93,800, the QX80 Limited is going to be well beyond the means of many consumers, although the big V8-powered SUVs from Lexus (LX 570) and Mercedes-Benz (GLS 550) are each more than $10K more expensive.

Fuel economy isn’t great, either – although I averaged 15.1 L / 100km, as advertised – and parking the QX80 can be a bit tricky in tight parking lots and garages, although the Around View Monitor camera system provides an excellent view of the vehicle’s surroundings from all angles.

So yes, the QX80 Limited isn’t for everyone, nor is it designed to be.

For those that can afford it, however, it is an attractive option for traveling in comfort with plenty of room to stretch out in, an abundance of cutting edge tech to keep occupants safe, entertained and free to just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

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NOTE: I don’t normally use press photos, but had to here because mine didn’t turn out well. I’ve since fixed the settings on my camera and will return to using my photos for the next Driven, a 2017 Nissan Murano Platinum. Look for that review next week.

SPECIFICATIONS2017 Infiniti QX80 Limited Edition

BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $93,800 / $96,545 (incl. $1,995 destination)
FINAL ASSEMBLY: Yukuhashi, Japan
ENGINE:
5.6L Endurance V8
HORSEPOWER:
400 hp @ 5,800 rpm
TORQUE: 
413 lb-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
CURB WEIGHT:
2,671 kg
CONFIGURATION:
front engine, four-wheel drive

TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic
MAX TOWING CAPACITY: 3,855 kg (8,500 lb.)
FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (L/100 KM - CITY / HWY. / COMB.):
17.4 / 12.2 / 15.1
WARRANTY (MOS. / KM):
48 / 100,000
ALTERNATIVES:
Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LX, Mercedes-Benz GLS

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Options

none

Accessories and / or Stand Alone Options

Hermosa blue paint ($750)

Total – $750

Photography courtesy of Infiniti Canada

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