In this job, I try to keep an eye on preconceptions and biases that might taint my review of a new vehicle. That’s what you all expect, right? In this case, I came into the review of this 2018 Infiniti QX80 really disliking it. I read a review of a previous generation of Infiniti’s largest vehicle many years ago—the first generation QX56 debuted here in 2004—where the reviewer famously called it a “mcmansion on wheels”. To me it looked too big, dumb, and bloated. There has only been one subsequent generation since that initial iteration and, at least visually, things never improved from what I could tell. For 2018, I can say that Infiniti has produced a fantastic SUV, even if it is still as big as a house.
But first, some history. As I said, we’ve had the biggest Infiniti, also known as the JA60, since 2004. And while the 1990s still seem recent to me, I’ll remind you that 2004 was fourteen years ago. If you ever thought the original QX looked like a Nissan Armada, that’s because it was based on the same F-Alpha platform that also shared bits with other Nissans like the Titan, Frontier, Xterra, NV van, Pathfinder and Patrol. Power has always been from a big 5.6L V8, part of the VK series that still powers the QX80 today. The first generation was almost 6000 pounds, perhaps land yacht is better than mcmansion.
Still, the QX has always come with a lot of stuff, even a decade ago. AWD, now standard, was an option back then but you could tow around 9000 pounds with the 320hp/390 ft. lbs. produced by the V8. Inside, there were options like DVD, captain’s chairs, adaptive cruise control, and a ten speaker Bose system. The first generation soldiered on through 2010 receiving a pretty major update for the 2011 model year. The Z62 version is no longer based on the Nissan Armada, even though they look similarly sized. The initial 2nd generation QX was based on the Nissan Patrol, and no longer assembled here in the States and still called the “QX56” through the 2013 model year. As with any new model, the newer body-on-frame SUV is larger than before, up an inch or so in length and width.
Then Infiniti blew up their entire model lineup’s nomenclature. All sedans are Q’s and all SUVs are QX’s. Oh and they moved the QX80 back to a shared Armada platform as of last year. Got that? On to the truck that I got to spend a week with.
I’ll say this again, I always thought that the QX was ugly. It’s big, bulbous body was punctuated by two downward turned headlights that looked way too small for its body. It looked like a whale with dolphin eyes. But for 2018, that all changed. The QX80 now shares a similar design and shape with the rest of the Infiniti lineup, utilizing a handsome trapezoidal (and automatic LED) headlight that is proportionate to its large physique. The rest of the front end has some typical big luxo SUV bling with a big chrome grill and gigantic Infiniti “Mount Fuji” badge. I actually really like it though, it looks classy without being too over the top. I particularly like the intake-looking areas below the headlights that are bisected by an LED fog light.
Moving down the slab-sided side, there is some more chrome with the de-rigueur chrome stationed just before the front door and on the door handles. It’s still fairly minimal and expected of an SUV of this size and style. A key element of the second generation QX80s styling is the prominent C-pillar, also highlighted with a chrome strip. It’s also present on the latest Armada and Patrol and gives the big Infiniti a trademark look. I guess. Out back, trademark Infiniti looking taillights, similar in shape to what you would find on a handsome Q60 or Q70, are situated in between a chrome strip. The rear still has a bit of a badonkadonk, but isn’t quite as bulbous as previous generations.
Expect all QX80s to have gigantic 20” wheels standard, with ginormous 22” wheels as optional extras for $2800. It all came together parked out front of the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, where the QX80 looked right at home. I even passed a woman in a clearly older model as I was driving in, apparently there is no QX80 wave.
All QX80s are well appointed, even without adding any of the optional packages. But mine had ALL the packages, tacking on $15,815 in options. That’s like well-equipped Nissan Versa in packages. Still, it’s pretty baller, you have to admit. The driver’s seating position is high, and you get a commanding view of the plebeian commuters around you.
There really isn’t a ton to say about this section, it’s as good inside as an SUV of this price point should be. I found myself continually impressed by the fit, finish, and materials. Again, exactly what you would expect. From a usability standpoint, the QX80 features similar functionality to other Infiniti models, which have featured fairly usable systems since my 2007 G35 sedan was built over a decade ago.
The quilted leather seats in particular really stuck out, as did the “VIP” second row. Sitting back there, in what amounts to two captain’s chairs, you feel like you could say “engage” and the QX80 would warp off into the galaxy. I’m more of a Millennium Falcon guy myself, but whatever. I was particularly fond of the in-seat entertainment system, which provided our little dude with plenty of distraction on the trip to Nana’s. Right before we dropped him off and left for a night away at a resort. Sorry man, that’s how it goes.
Regardless, this probably the most pictures I’ve posted of an SUV’s interior, so Infiniti is doing something right!
You don’t buy this to drive, you buy this as an extra large conveyance to get between places in extra comfort. That said, it’s got a big V8 and makes some neat noises when you romp on the throttle. And on the drive up into the woods for a luxury weekend, the Infiniti played the role perfectly, it’s a highway beast and made quick work of the trip.
I’m becoming somewhat of a subject matter expert on large 3-row SUVs. I’ve owned a few, including a new-to-us GL 450 Mercedes, and have started to know what you get, and what you don’t get at various price points. At almost $85,000 with options ($67,850 base) the QX80 competes with large luxury SUVs like the Lexus LX, Mercedes Benz GLS, and even big American fare like the Escalade and Yukon Denali. And it competes quite well, I’ve driven most of the competition, and it would not be hard to come to the conclusion that the QX80 is the one to choose.
Bonus (Interior) Pics