The Infiniti QX80 is a three-row luxury SUV that combines modern-day luxuries with old-school power and towing capability. A decade since its debut as the QX56, the current QX80 is starting to show its age, especially on the inside, where an underwhelming interior and dated design sees it fall behind more contemporary rivals such as the Cadillac Escalade or Lincoln Navigator. It still feels relatively on par with the Lexus LX 570, and at a much lower price point, which should appeal to buyers who crave a Japanese luxury vehicle.
Under the hood of the QX80 lies a naturally-aspirated 5.6-liter V8 that produces 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque; adequate but not class-leading numbers. Power is sent to either the rear or all four wheels, and with decent breakover/approach/departure angles, the QX80 can be taken off-road if one pleases. While it remains a luxurious large SUV with a reasonable price tag, a week driving the 2021 QX80 Premium Select proves it has fallen behind the pack.
Infiniti's QX80 SUV gets minor interior and exterior features changes for 2021, as well as a trim reshuffling. The new Sensory trim sits at the top of the pile and features luxury appointments such as quilted semi-aniline leather-appointed seats, a new graphite tricot headliner, and Charcoal Burl trim. This model is distinguished by 22-inch forged alloy wheels and chrome mirror caps. The new Premium Select trim incorporates features seen on the limited-run 2020 QX80 'Edition 30' and includes black highlights on the grille, fender vents, and mirror caps, amongst others. All trim levels now feature Infiniti's second-generation smart rearview mirror system and a slew of safety features.
Infiniti is a brand aimed at the higher end of the car-buying market, and its vehicle prices reflect that, so it should come as no surprise that its headlining SUV costs a pretty penny. Infiniti QX80 prices vary from trim to trim, and a new QX80 starts with an MSRP of $69,050, excluding tax, registration, and a destination fee of $1,395. The AWD version of the base model costs $72,150. The mid-range Premium Select will set you back $73,350, climbing to $76,450 for the AWD version, and the top-spec Sensory is $80,200 in RWD configuration, rising to $83,300 for the AWD variant. Fully kitted, the Sensory comes in at over $90,000.
See trim levels and configurations:
With bones dating back to 2010, it should come as no surprise that the QX80 doesn't drive like a brand-new vehicle. There is a raw, truck-like impression behind the wheel of the QX80, which may appeal to old-fashioned shoppers while turning away drivers who prefer car-like handling. This SUV feels its size, with heavy steering that feels vague when turning. Road-holding is not the QX80's strong suit, though the ride is surprisingly supple thanks to available hydraulically-controlled suspension. If you are looking for a more dynamic family hauler, check out the BMW X7 or Mercedes-Benz GLS.
The QX80 excels at removing occupants from outside road noises and bumps. Low-speed road imperfections barely disturb the QX80, and at higher speeds, the vehicle is stable enough to handle rough highways. Though it lacks some of the newer suspension technology found in rivals like the Cadillac Escalade, the QX80 doesn't suffer too greatly in terms of comfort.
As is the case with most vehicles that stick around for a decade without a significant overhaul, the 2021 Infiniti QX80 is a tough sell in a competitive market. Options like the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator outshine it in nearly every category except value. The American competitors start for around $7,000 and can easily crest the $100,000 mark. There are some pricey European options as well, though they are all much smaller than the QX80. If a shopper specifically craves a massive Japanese luxury SUV, we'd be inclined to recommend the QX80 over the pricey (and equally dated) Lexus LX 570.
As long as the full-size SUV remains a popular form of transport, the Infiniti QX80 will stay somewhat relevant. The exterior will divide opinions, but a big part of the QX80's appeal lies in its suave yet brutish form. Under the hood, the big 5.6-liter V8 keeps things moving and offers competitive towing capability. This mass of steel floats its occupants on a cloud of luxury but feels disconnected to drive and won't bring many thrills. Thankfully, it is still somewhat capable off-road in AWD guise. Inside, the interior is starting to show its age, but most modern features are included, which should future-proof this car for a short while longer. At the price, we could see it as a viable option but the Nissan Armada offers the same features at an even lower cost.
There might be three trims on offer, but there's not much separating these three SUVs. All trims share the same 400-hp 5.6-liter V8 engine and an eight-inch upper and seven-inch lower infotainment display. Tri-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats, and driver assistance features like intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, rear collision warning, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and blind-spot monitoring are all standard. The Premium Select doesn't add any notable features but adds some styling parts such as 22-inch dark chrome wheels and dark chrome exterior trim pieces. The Sensory trim adds a more advanced climate control system and a 17-speaker Bose sound system. When it comes to value for money, the base model is your best bet, but we'd also suggest the Nissan Armada Platinum, which packs the features found in the Sensory at a much lower price.
Being Nissan's luxury brand, Infiniti cars share most of the same underpinnings and tech but get exclusive features and, of course, a higher price tag. The Nissan Armada shares the same platform, powertrain, and other bits and pieces. The 5.6-liter V8 engine in the Armada produces less power at 390 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque, but the QX80 requires premium fuel to produce the extra power, making it more expensive to run. On the road, both SUVs offer a similar driving experience and return near identical fuel economy figures, with the QX80 being slightly more economical on the highway. To justify the significant jump in price from the Armada to the QX80, Infiniti has decked the QX80 out with premium materials and a few added features. These two are basically the same car with different branding, but with a new Nissan Armada on the horizon, the favor might just tip to the side of the more affordable car.
The Cadillac Escalade has quickly become a style icon in the USA and holds a special place in American culture that the QX80 can only dream of achieving. Now in its fifth generation, the 2021 Escalade is better than ever and makes the QX80 feel even more ancient than it is. Under the hood of the Escalade, you'll find a 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbodiesel and a 6.2-liter naturally-aspirated V8, both offering 460 lb-ft of torque. The Escalade is the faster car off the line and provides a better spread of power, making it easier to live with daily, especially in diesel guise. The Escalade is capable of towing 8,000 lbs, which is lower than the QX80. On the road, the Escalade is more comfortable to drive and lives up to its reputation of being a peerless cruiser. On the inside, the Escalade blows the QX80 out of the water with a cutting-edge interior that rivals European brands such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The Caddy will set you back an additional $7k over the cost of the Infiniti QX80 at entry level, but it's the better car by a long shot.
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