Last year's QX56 is this year's 2014 Infiniti QX80. Other than the name change, there isn't much difference. The QX80's platform serves it and its passengers well, providing a modern suspension and ample space for the long-legged in all three rows. Fold down the second- and third-row seats and the QX reveals a plentiful cargo bay to hide luggage, sports gear or the latest acquisitions from Best Buy.
Far from subtle, the QX80's proportions are massive, augmented by styling that seems to exaggerate every line, curve and seam. The entire package is set off by a massive set of 9-spoke alloy wheels that, when rolling, look like giant fan blades ready to slice into anything that draws near. Its luxury appointments, on the other hand, are perfectly suited to the upper-class clientele Infiniti seeks. In fact, the QX80 possesses one of the most attractive and well-equipped luxury SUV interiors we've tested.
What's New for 2014?
Beyond the name change, the QX80 receives Infiniti's Advanced Backup Collision Intervention (BCI) system as part of the available Technology Package.
What We Like
Powerful V8 engine; lovely interior detail; impressive electronic safety assists; surprisingly manageable road manners
What We Don't
Poor fuel economy; can be difficult to maneuver in tight spots
The QX80 is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 that makes an impressive 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. Models with Infiniti's All-Mode 4-wheel drive include a driver-selectable Auto/4HI/4LO computer-controlled transfer case. Left in Auto mode, the system will detect wheel slippage and route power to the wheels with the best traction.
The Environmental Protection Agency rates the QX80 at 14 miles per gallon city/20 mpg hwy for both 2-wheel-drive and 4-wheel-drive models.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Infiniti QX80 comes in one well-equipped model offered with either 2-wheel-drive or 4-wheel-drive models.
Standard equipment for the QX80 2WD ($62,345) and QX80 4WD ($65,445) includes a 13-speaker Bose audio system, Intelligent Key keyless entry and push-button start, a power sunroof, a power rear lift gate, HID headlamps, 10-way power driver's and 8-way power passenger's seats with 2-way power lumbar support, a heated steering wheel, power tilting and telescoping steering wheel, voice-activated hard-drive navigation, Bluetooth and front and rear sonar parking aids. The Around View 360-degree monitor is also standard. It uses cameras in the side mirrors, front grille and rear hatch to create 360-degree and bird's-eye views of the scene outside the car, a great aid when parking or pulling out from a blind curve. The system also includes Moving Object Detection (MOD) that can detect moving objects within the top view (when in Park) or both front and rear when backing up or starting off.
The QX80's options list is composed mostly of packages. The Deluxe Touring Package includes Hydraulic Body Motion Control, Plasmacluster air purifier, climate-controlled front seats, Semi-Aniline leather seating, upgraded 15-speaker Bose surround-sound system, Advanced Climate Control and headlamp washers. The Theater Package brings dual 7-inch LCD screens, wireless headsets, heated second-row seats and remote tip-up second-row seats, while the Technology Package adds Intelligent Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention and Distance Control Assist.
The 2014 Infiniti QX80 comes with a full roster of safety gear, including 4-wheel ABS, electronic traction and stability control and an available Hydraulic Body Motion Control system that uses sensors to pressurize individual shocks, minimizing body roll and lean. Inside, the QX80 provides front, front side-impact and 3-row side-curtain airbags. The Technology Package also includes many electronic safety measures to help avoid accidents, keep the vehicle in its lane and alert the driver to vehicles in the QX80's blind spot.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crashed tested the QX80.
Behind the Wheel
This is one of the better-handling large SUVs. Unlike the Lexus LX570, the QX80 doesn't feel large and ponderous. Its steering effort is light and direct, with good feedback in fast curves. The optional Hydraulic Body Motion Control system helps the QX80 avoid that tippy feeling commonly found in large vehicles with a high center of gravity. As for acceleration, the 5.6-liter V8 turns in an A-plus performance, responding instantly to throttle input and delivering a sweet, low rumble that is music to a V8-lover's ears.
The QX80's seating is supremely supportive in the first and second rows, and even the 60/40 power folding third-row seats, while not spacious, are suitable for adults. One important note: The QX80's second-row seats are twin captain's chairs separated by a wide console. If you need 3-row seating, you'll need to check off the 60/40 split bench seat option, which can be had at no extra charge.
The QX80 is rated to tow up to 8,500 pounds.
Other Cars to Consider
Lexus LX570 -- There's no contest here. The QX80 is superior in ride, comfort, handling, power, towing and fuel economy. The Lexus might have an advantage in resale, but that's about all we can think of.
Mercedes-Benz GL -- The GL isn't as large as the QX80, and it drives a bit better. Plus, you can opt for a V6 or diesel engine. But a comparably equipped GL costs more than the QX80, and we find the GL's interior conservative.
If you're going to do it, do it right. Since there's no difference in fuel economy, go for the 4-wheel-drive over the 2-wheel-drive model. If you want heated second-row seats, you have to tack on the Theater Package. The Technology Package is helpful for those who think they might need the added assistance, but it's not a must-have.