People Mover: 2015 Infiniti QX80

A lot of things happened at Infiniti in 2014. For one, everything got a new name that included Q. For the QX56, now known as the QX80 just because, this wasn’t that difficult a change. Along with the new name came a new face. With a revised front fascia, grille, and LED headlights, Infiniti also added a more luxurious Limited trim option. The Infiniti QX has always been more keeping with the Kardashians instead of the Joneses. But is the full-size luxury SUV still relevant? And in a world that includes the Lexus LX570, updated Lincoln Navigator, and all-new Cadillac Escalade, does the Infiniti still have what it takes to stand out.

Infiniti QX80 4

Inside, the Infiniti boasts a slew of safety and technological enhancements. The Driver’s Assistance Package bundles back-up collision intervention, blind spot warning, adaptive cruise control, forward collision, and distance control assist. The latter is an industry first and takes quite a while to get used to. In congested traffic, the driver can lift off the throttle and let the car apply the brakes as needed. After testing that it worked, we opted to leave it off most of the week. Infiniti may be on the leading edge of in-car safety tech, and we definitely appreciate that, but sometimes technology can be too active. We still prefer to drive this behemoth, not relinquish nearly 3 tons of steel and leather to a handful of sensors.

Infiniti QX80 1

The interior is very plush with soft leather accented with wood trim and comfortable seats. The infotainment system is confusing at best with an overload of buttons and knobs to control the screen. It does get easier with time. Despite the slew of buttons, the system is best run through the touch screen, even if it occasionally has its slower moments. The rear entertainment system has a screen on either side for the outboard seats, and our car’s second row came equipped with captain’s chairs and a fixed center console. A full bench is available to boost the Infiniti’s people carrying ability – which is what this SUV was made for.

The Infiniti’s ride and handling can be best described as isolated. Bumps, potholes, and expansion joints barely registered in the cabin. Infiniti boasts their hydraulic body motion control as a selling point. The system monitors sway in the suspension and applies pressure to the hydraulic system to prevent body roll. It works well, keeping you from rolling out of the driver’s seat as you saw at the helm. Once you’re pointing in a straight line again, the 400 horsepower 5.6L V8 moves the QX80 in with very little drama. A large part of the grunt, the 413lb ft of torque, is available down low and peaks at 4,000 RPM. You won’t be outrunning the fleet-footed force-fed Navigator, but the Infiniti can be urged to hustle if needed. Unfortunately, doing so is at the expense of your wallet. With 7 truck-tuned gears and a large-displacement V8, we averaged a pretty poor 14mpg over the week. That’s well below our averages in the Cadillac and the Lexus.

Infiniti QX80 7

Ultimately, if you’re in the market for a 7 passenger luxury SUV, fuel consumption is probably pretty low on your list of priorities. In this class, its comfort, technology, and style that make the difference. The QX80 is the far-and-away the most comfortable car that we’ve tested in this segment. In a time when the roads are at their worst, the Infiniti made Upstate, NY feel Autobahn smooth. In terms of technology, the user interface may be a sticking point, but the plethora of industry-leading active and passive assist systems is second to none in its class. As for style? Well…that’s up to you. It certainly is polarizing. So for Infiniti fans, the QX80 doesn’t have much to worry about in the luxury SUV segment. Perhaps the only thing it may have to worry about, however, isn’t an SUV at all. It’s the cheaper, more fuel efficient, and just as practical stablemate; the QX60.

-Scott Villeneuve

2015 Infiniti QX80 AWD
Driver’s Assistance Package $2,100
Theater Package $2,400
Deluxe Technology Package $5,550
Illuminated Kick Plates $440
Tire & Wheel Package $2,450
Destination Charges $995
As Tested MSRP $80,285

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