Big counts for something sometimes and if you need to haul seven people, a big SUV is likely what you need, or a minivan.
My son’s family was visiting so the Infiniti QX80 was a good bet for hauling us around southeast Wisconsin when grandparents, kids and grandkids needed to get to the zoo, etc.
The QX80 is a luxurious beast of an SUV. It’ll tow 8,500 lbs., and the seven aforementioned people. It’s 208.9 inches long, weighs 6,054 lbs., has 9.2 inches of ground clearance and boasts a 400-horsepower 5.6-liter V8.
Its benefits are to be expected — hauling people and cargo, plentiful power, excellent ride and a luxury interior to match its luxury price.
The base QX80 starts at $65,745, including delivery, while the tested 4-wheel-drive model, lists at $68,845, with delivery. The silver test ute added every option but a turbo encabulator (Google it!), so ended up at a premium luxury price of $84,910. Call it $85 grand.
Certainly the strong V8 is a benefit if you’re hauling boats or snowmobiles on trailers. It pulls hard and steady and still remains refined enough to not advertise to the world that you’ve got a V8. And while the vehicle is stout at 3+ tons, that V8 will help the SUV gallop up to highway speeds relatively quickly. Car and Driver magazine says this will do 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. Heck, most 1960s muscle cars couldn’t do that, save for a few Corvettes, Camaros and the Mustang Mach 1!
Gear shifts are smooth from the 7-speed automatic that also includes a manual shift mode.
Ride is luxurious and easy on the derriere too, plus there’s the AWD feature that can aid in winter. A knob on the console controls that.
But the Infiniti’s handling is vague and heavy. There’s push in turns as the vehicle’s weight wants to keep shoving it away from a turn’s apex. That’s not uncommon in large SUVs. I also found the QX wandered a bit on the highway as pavement tilted to one side or the other. That was enough to push the SUV a bit off kilter.
In any case, outside of its size, the interior is what now often dictates if a luxury vehicle is worth its weight in bitcoins.
Here the QX80 excelled in looks with a black over saddle leather interior with perforated leather seats, black dash with that saddle tan trim by the center stack, plus chrome surrounds on the console, stack, dash and doors. That chrome is way too reflective on sun days though, a brushed or blacked-out trim would be better. There also was some black fake wood trim on the console, but it too was reflective. Yet riders praised the look as they clamored aboard via helpful running boards.
The dash looks fine too, but there are a lot of buttons and knobs to figure out, but most are easy and large. However, the infotainment screen is mighty small for this sized and priced vehicle. Infiniti claims it’s an 8-inch screen, but it looks miniscule atop the center stack. Many newer luxury cars, crossovers and utes now offer much wider screens.
But it all feels cushy. The doors’ armrests, and big storage box/armrest between the seats feel like Uncle Charlie’s favorite easy chair in the den. The seats themselves also are well cushioned, featuring a quilted leather pattern that looks and feels rich. Seat bottoms are fairly flat, but comfortable, while the seat backs were more contoured.
In back there’s a split bench for the second row ($250 option) and third row seats that will power down, thanks to some buttons inside the powered rear hatch. The driver also can power down the second row seats from controls under the ute’s center stack. All this makes lowering the seats easy to boost cargo space.
With the third row bench seat in place there’s 16.6 cubic feet of space. That’s more than most midsize cars offer. Fold down the rear seat and cargo space improves to 49.6 cu.ft., while that balloons to 95.1 cu.ft. if both back rows are down.
Access to the rear seat is easy enough by flipping and sliding the second row seats, but legroom was still somewhat challenging considering the vehicle’s size. Last week’s Subaru Ascent’s rear seat was more spacious and comfortable, the riders said.
Most popular with the grandkids was the built-in screens in back of the front row seats’ headrests. Grandpa could slap in a Despicable Me DVD and quiet reigned for miles and miles. Parents and grandparents everywhere celebrate! This feature is part of Infiniti’s theater package that also includes wireless headphones, various plug-in ports and heated second row seats.
Overhead is a small sunroof. I was surprised by its dinky nature because many crossovers and utes now feature panoramic sunroofs. On the plus side there’s a HomeLink system in the rearview mirror.
There are many other pluses too. This Infiniti came with a full load of safety devices, including blind-spot and lane departure warnings and intervention systems, plus backup collision intervention. That means you not only are warned of a problem, but the car takes evasive action. This is all part of a $2,900 driver assistance package. It adds smart cruise control, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection and front collision warning.
That’s all fine, but it seems much of this should be standard on a $68 grand vehicle.
The deluxe tech package also adds a 15-speaker Bose sound system, semi-aniline leather seats that are heated and cooled, adaptive front lighting and Hydraulic Body Motion Control, all for $5,700. Again, heated and cooled seats should be standard. That HBMC system is designed to help reduce vehicle body roll with hydraulics instead of anti-roll bars. It may help, but as stated earlier, there still was body lean in turns.
The rest of the goodies here are too numerous for my space, but there are plenty, although many are optional, which is why this test vehicle hit nearly $85 grand.
I also should mention the SUV’s puny gas mileage. I got 16.0 and 16.3 mpg in about an even mix of city and highway driving. The EPA says to expect 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway. Premium unleaded is preferred too.
For comfort and carrying loads of people and gear the Infiniti QX80 is an attractive beast. However, compare prices with other vehicles once you add in the options you desire. This is a highly competitive segment and just because an SUV starts at a lower price than competitors doesn’t mean it will end up there.
FAST STATS: 2018 Infiniti QX80 4WD
Misses: Horrible gas mileage, small infotainment screen, small sunroof, cramped third row seat, vague handling, heavy overall feel, body lean in turns, reflective chrome trim interior.
Made in: Japan
Engine: 5.6-liter V8, 400 horsepower
Transmission: 7-speed automatic/manual mode
Weight: 6,054 lbs.
Length: 208.9 in.
Wheelbase: 121.1 in.
Cargo: 16.6 cu.ft., 49.6/95.1 cu.ft. (third row down, second & third down)
Tow: 8,500 lbs.
MPG: 16.0-16.3 (tested)
Base Price: $68,845 (includes delivery)
Deluxe Technology package, $5,700
Theater package, $2,450
22-inch tire/wheel package, $2,800
Split second row bench seat, $250
Driver assistance package, $2,900
Cargo package, $250
Roof rail crossbars, $400
Illuminated kick plates, $465
Infiniti WiFi, $450
Welcome lighting, $425
Test vehicle: $84,910
Sources: Infiniti, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage