2018 Infiniti QX80 First Drive | Edmunds

2018 Infiniti QX80 First Drive

Infiniti's 3-Row SUV Gets Some Modest Updates

While small luxury crossover SUVs are increasingly popular with shoppers, there's undeniable appeal in the big luxury SUV formula. It's a vehicle that can haul seven people (and their gear) in leather-lined comfort or tow a boat or camper trailer without breaking a sweat. If that attribute is alluring to you, Infiniti is hoping to woo you with its 2018 QX80.

The lineage of Infiniti's three-row luxury SUV can be traced back to 2011 when the company introduced it as the QX56. This year's 2018 QX80 isn't fully redesigned, but it does have a new look and a few minor changes meant to keep it competitive with more recently redesigned competitors.

What's New About the 2018 QX80?
The QX80's nip and tuck starts with newly designed LED headlights and foglights, plus a subtly restyled grille. Out back, a new rear bumper and a new rear tailgate surround the LED taillights. The wheel designs are new and, to increase comfort, Infiniti says it retuned the suspension and specified tires with a softer sidewall.

Inside, the seats, dashboard and overall design are the same. The center console has been updated, though, and now has a cellphone storage pocket. One notable new feature is an optional rearview mirror that can display a live feed from the vehicle's rearview camera. The advantage is that it'll show you what's behind you even if you've completely loaded up the cargo area and can't see out the back by conventional means. There's also some additional insulation in the cargo area, meant to quiet the interior of the QX80.

The 2018 QX80's mechanical bits carry over. The engine is a 5.6-liter V8 good for 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. It's connected to a seven-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or four-wheel drive. When properly equipped, the QX80 can tow up to a stout 8,500 pounds. Fuel economy, however, is near the back of the pack at 15 mpg combined (13 city/19 highway). Introducing a turbocharged V6 (as Lincoln did with its Navigator, for instance) would likely increase fuel economy and make the QX80 seem more modern. But truth be told, there's still intrinsic appeal in driving a big SUV with a rumbling V8 under the hood.

2018 Infiniti QX80

How Much Does It Cost?
The 2018 Infiniti QX80 starts at $64,750 (before the $995 destination fee), which is an increase of $900 from last year's MSRP. The QX80 has a relatively simple trim level hierarchy, with two-wheel drive for the base model and four-wheel drive adding $3,100 to the price tag.

We drove a four-wheel-drive model equipped with a few options, which took the price just over $80,000. The QX80 options are broken down into a few bundled packages. The Driver Assistance package has blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and mitigation, and adaptive cruise control, while the Theater package gets you heated second-row seats and a rear entertainment system with dual 8-inch screens. The Deluxe Technology package includes all the content from the previously mentioned packages, plus an adaptive hydraulic suspension, heated and cooled front seats, unique leather upholstery and a 15-speaker Bose sound system. A second-row bench seat is also optional (two captain's chairs are standard).

What's It Like To Drive?
Lacking wholesale changes, the 2018 Infiniti QX80 drives the same as it has for years. Up against vehicles such as the Cadillac Escalade and the Lexus LX 570, the Infiniti seems a bit dated. It's less nimble and manueverable in tight spaces, and steering is, in a word, numb. And while the optional hydraulic suspension does a good job of controlling body roll, there's no hiding the QX80's substantial mass.

Really, though, this is a big three-row luxury truck with a purpose. It's meant to haul large loads, keep your passengers swathed in luxury, sail along the highway, and impress the valet when you pull up to the hotel. In that, the QX80 ably succeeds.

We're less impressed with the QX80's infotainment system. The switchgear and interface are very similar to those used in other parent-company Nissan products, thereby reducing the QX80's upscale vibe. The 360-degree parking camera, for instance, is the same screen and system you get in the Nissan Rogue — a crossover that can be had for about $40,000 less. And in general, the QX80's interior doesn't look or feel as classy as those of its main rivals.

2018 Infiniti QX80

What Are Its Main Competitors?

If you're interested in buying the QX80 for its three-row seating capacity, luxury appointments and towing capability, there are a few options you should also consider. The Cadillac Escalade (along with its GMC Yukon Denali sibling), the Land Rover Range Rover, the Lexus LX 570 and the Lincoln Navigator are all top picks. They all have varying levels of luxury appointments and similar prices to the QX80, but several (especially the Land Rover and the Lincoln) are more modern than the QX80 and deserve a test drive. With its new look, though, the 2018 Infiniti QX80 is certainly a bit more competitive in this very specialized market of vehicles.

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