Road Test: 2018 Infiniti QX80

Infiniti’s commanding QX80 flagship SUV has been updated for 2018. Infiniti is on a roll with their excellent lineup of vehicles and QX80 is just another example of taking luxury to the next level.

The new “Powerful Elegance” design language is expressive and stunning. With seating for seven (or even eight), this tank is capable of hauling equal parts people and cargo in comfort, luxury, and style.

At 210.2 inches in length, 75.8 inches tall, and 79.9 inches wide, the QX80 has an on-road presence. Created by Infiniti’s design team in Atsugi, Japan, the design communicates a clear sense of elegance and human artistry.

QX80 appears longer, with more clearly defined character lines, and the front appears more purposeful, with large, functional fender vents maximizing air delivery to the engine. A thin strip of aluminum beneath the grille emphasizes width, while the grille itself sits more upright.

The human eye-like headlamps wrap around the front corners of the hood and into the fenders. Like a telescope with multiple lenses, a series of reflective channels disperse light evenly throughout the long signature LED eyebrow, and are placed high on the front of the vehicle to accentuate the elevated stance. At night, the lights are incredibly bright and feature automatic high beams.

At the rear the slim, sharp combination tail lamps echo the headlamp shape and employ LED technology.

Low-profile 22-inch aluminum alloy wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Dueler rubber finish the exotic look.

Inside, the QX80 interior feels refined with high-quality materials, a hand-crafted finish, and an incredible amount of space all around. Infiniti says it’s one of the most luxurious, highest-quality passenger compartments they have ever created, and we can feel it.

The cabin is finished in a range of rich, new materials, with seats, door panels and armrests wrapped in perforated and quilted Saddle Brown leather. The backs of each seat are skinned in quilted brown leather, harmonizing the effect throughout the cabin, with the upholstery sewn together with contrast double-stitching. Extensive use of leather piping throughout creates sharper, more angular edges to the seats and headrests.The burled walnut adds incredible warmth.

Comfort has also been increased with higher-density padding in the door elbow rests and center armrest. We benefited from this during our drive from Western New York to Vermont.

Passengers (including kids) will appreciate the upgraded rear entertainment system. Eight inch, higher-resolution screens provide the interface for connectivity and entertainment devices. The system now supports input from HDMI and USB, and two USB ports have been added for charging devices.

Wireless as well as wired headphones are now supported, and each screen can display individual content.

Passengers in the front also get more control of the entertainment system. Front-row passengers can use the Remote Control Lock function – accessed through the dash or steering wheel – to lock the rear-seat remote control. The driver or passenger can turn displays on or off, switch between different inputs remotely, select which audio sources are used, and play or pause content. A new “All Mute” button up front mutes every audio source in the cabin, including headphones.

We’ve always appreciated Infiniti’s extensive use of physical buttons and switches, making the InTouch infotainment system safer to use on the road, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are still not available.

Paired with the QX80’s smart key, the InTouch system memorizes more than 200 settings for two drivers, including customized settings for navigation, seat positions, audio, safety systems, climate control presets and configuration of the infotainment system. The car automatically adjusts when it detects each smart key.

InTouch also allows owners to Remote Engine Start and more.

Infiniti also improved storage space throughout. In the front, the center console now features a larger smartphone storage area, able to accommodate mobile devices up to 2.9 inches wide, like the iPhone XS and Samsung Galaxy S8. The twin cup holders in the front have been reshaped to accommodate two 44oz cups with handles. The USB port has also been relocated to the opposite side of the center console, making it easier to access.

The storage area beneath the front armrest has been expanded, with the underside of the lid reshaped to create a large compartment. At 9.4 inches in height, the compartment can now hold up to three upright 1.0-liter bottles. The space is shaped to accommodate tablet devices such as the iPad Air, iPad Air 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, stood vertically.

Infiniti also says that the QX80’s upholstery features a new soil-resistant coating applied to the seats, door trim, center console, instrument panel and rear armrest, and it protects surfaces from denim dye transfer, staining and spills.

Ingress and egress is improved thanks  to wider door sills, and space around each passenger is plentiful.

QX80 is about capability, which is why cargo capacity remains high, with 49.6 cu ft when the third row seats are folded down. With all three rows of seats in place, the trunk offers 16.6 cu ft of storage capacity, enough to store a pair of full-sized suitcases upright.

The cabin is nearly silent when the delicious roar of the V8 engine isn’t above 2500 RPM. Infiniti says a wider soundproofing area behind the dashboard panel reduces engine noise, and denser floor carpets and additional soundproofing materials around the cargo area help to absorb high-frequency noises and vibrations from the road.

While not at all sporty, the comfort-oriented ride is well-tuned and benefits from Hydraulic Body Motion Control (HBMC) technology.

HBMC monitors body lean and roll as the 2018 QX80 turns into a corner, and adjusts the suspension to create a smooth, flat ride. Hydraulic cylinders are connected to the shock absorber, and linked to one another with high-pressure hydraulic channels. Two accumulators monitor body roll and adjust suspension stiffness on each side of the car by transferring oil between the hydraulic cylinders. As the car corners and the body starts to lean, HBMC firms up the suspension on one side of the car to counter this effect.

For 2018, the suspension’s damping force also has been reduced by 30 percent at every corner, isolating the cabin further by absorbing higher-frequency vibrations.

Rear Auto-Leveling Suspension automatically adjusts suspension pressure to maintain the optimum ride height with cargo in the trunk or a trailer on tow. This allows the 2018 QX80 to tow up to 8,500 lbs, and carry up to 95.1 cu ft of interior cargo volume with third- and second-row seats folded. By keeping the vehicle at its optimal height, the 2018 QX80 remains stable and continues to offer responsive handling and braking, improving confidence when towing or carrying heavier loads.

In partnership with the advanced suspension, the 2018 QX80’s powertrain ensures effortless and refined movement. With a powerful 5.6-liter V8 engine driving the rear or both axles, the new QX80 remains the consummate performer in even the worst driving conditions.

Available in RWD or All-Mode 4WD, the latter enables four-wheel traction when conditions require it, and off-road capability when the driver demands it. With optimal all-season power delivery, the rear-biased drivetrain defaults to rear-wheel drive, continually adjusting power distribution between front and rear axles.

The four-wheel drive system can be customized via a dial in the center console. The system operates in ‘auto’ mode by default, using a computer-controlled transfer case to instantly redistribute engine torque to the wheels with the most traction. Permanent high- and low-range four-wheel drive settings are also available. The high-range setting is designed to take on moderate off-road driving and snow; the low-range function empowers drivers to tackle more demanding off-road conditions, with steeper inclines and declines, when more traction is needed.

The engine produces a powerful 400 hp and 413 lb ft of torque. The smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic transmission features Adaptive Shift Control and manual shift mode with Downshift Rev Matching.

The EPA rates 2WD QX80 models at 14 mpg city, 20 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined. 4WD variants are capable of 13 mpg city, 19 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined. We averaged 21 mpg during our mostly highway adventure.

Infiniti has been a leader in assisted driving, providing proactive safety innovations that support the driver in identifying and responding to other vehicles and potential hazards. It draws on input from five cameras and three radars to read the road ahead and monitor the vehicle’s surroundings.

The innovative technologies include: Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning and Intervention and Backup Collision Intervention.

The drive assist technologies can operate between 20 and 90 mph, while Intelligent Cruise Control can operate down to just 1 mph. Distance Control Assist is one of our favorite driving aids, making driving in urban environments so much easier by having the QX80 do all the braking.

New for 2018 is a Smart Rear View Mirror that works as a standard mirror, or turns it into a display at the flip of a switch. It displays video from a camera mounted in the upper rear tailgate window. It enables drivers to see behind the car even when the rear window is blocked by fog, ice, passengers, or cargo. In icy conditions, owners need only scrape ice off the camera lens, instead of the entire rear window.

Compared to a conventional rear-view mirror, with a 19 to 20-degree viewing angle through the car and out of the rear glass, the Smart Rear View Mirror offers up to a 48.1-degree view.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 7
Braking 10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 8
Noise 10
Headlights 10
Interior Fit and Finish 10
Seating 10
Visibility 10
Gauges and Controls 8
Infotainment 5
Crash-Avoidance 10
Total Score  88

Make: Infiniti
Model: QX80
Trim Level: 4WD
Engine: 5.6L V8
Transmission: 7-Speed Auto
Options: Deluxe Tech, Theater, 22″ Tire and Wheel, Driver Assist, WiFi, Illuminated Kick Plates, Cross Bars, Welcome Lighting

Base Price: $87,850
As-Tested Price: $94,660


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