However, the turbocharged and aluminum-bodied Lincoln Navigator prove Infiniti may need to upgrade the hardware soon.
If, even for a second, you thought that the jaw-dropping QX80 Monograph Concept that debuted at the New York Auto Show indicated that Infiniti would use the upcoming QX80 revamp to roll out a new platform and powertrain options, then you thought wrong. Nissan senior vice president and president of the Infiniti Motor Company, Roland Krueger, outlined this news in a recent interview with Motor Trend and though the announcement is slightly disappointing, it’s hardly surprising.
The Nissan Armada has recently been introduced with the same platform as the QX80, which was based on the existing Nissan Patrol. That platform has been around since 2011 and has aged decently since its inception, but Infiniti sees no reason to throw some dough at an update. “It will be the same powertrain,” said the verbose Krueger in reference to the naturally aspirated 5.6-liter V8 under the hood of the current seven-seat QX80. That engine provides an ample 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque to a seven-speed automatic, which sends power to the rear wheels or all four contact patches when four-wheel drive is engaged.
The SUV appeals to bling lovers with a need to tow heavy loads, a feat enabled by the QX80’s 8,500 pound towing capacity. According to Krueger, nothing about it needs to change. He believes the same about the platform for that matter. “It is a very successful car and very successful architecture and it fits right into the market. When you look at powertrain, capacity for seven seats, it fits right in.” With Q1 sales up 31% over the previous year, he may be right, but when it comes to the platform, his comments make even more sense. Full-size SUVs like the QX80 and Armada feature simplistic body-on-frame architecture that doesn’t necessarily need to be updated as often to accommodate owner needs or regulator decrees.
Unlike the highly competitive crossover segment, full-size SUVs don’t sell in miraculous volumes, making a hefty investment less worthwhile. Still, this hasn’t stopped Ford from upgrading its full-size Expedition and Lincoln Navigator with an efficient but powerful turbocharged EcoBoost V6 and a new frame to better handle the weight-saving aluminum body panels, though other competitors in the segment seem to be stuck in the past along with the QX80. We do know that the new QX80, slated to go into production by the end of the year, will feature a new exterior, perhaps modeled after the QX80 Monograph Concept, as well as an upgraded interior.
Our experience with the capable but supple Infiniti QX80 and Nissan Armada tells us the platform can be stretched into the next generation without customer complaint, but that may not be the case for the regulators. Only patience and the passage of time will yield more answers.