The 2015 Infiniti QX80 surprises on many levels. Its plush ride, polished interior and powerful, velvety engine seems to go above and beyond most of its peers.
One is first impressed with the Infiniti’s exterior. There is nothing about this full-size SUV that reminds one of a truck. This is very unlike the Ford Expedition/Lincoln Navigator twins and the GM Tahoe, Yukon Denali, Escalade triplets.
The deep blue of our tester contrasted perfectly with the generous use of chrome accents. You will not miss the power running boards the other brands insist you take, nor will you miss the shin bruises from having them hit you when you open a door to reach in for an item left inside.
One is even more impressed when the driver’s door is opened. Every fullsize luxury SUV in this class checks the right boxes; soft leather with nice offset stitching, wood interior trim, a steering wheel that has been fussed over and a center console storage bin big enough to stash your ATV helmet.
However, the Infiniti seems to have been more lovingly constructed. Yes, that is a throw-away expression, but it fits here. Every detail just seems to work. Having just tested the Navigator, Yukon Denali, and Expedition King Ranch prior to this evaluation, the Infiniti QX80 seems ahead of the pack.
The second row has captain’s chairs that look and feel exactly like the thrones up front. The massive center armrest/ linen closet thingy contained a remote and headphones for the entertainment system which featured screens in the front seat headrests.
This system is an anachronism. My boys ages 13 and 16 thought it looked great until they found out that there was no on-demand TV, but rather a DVD (what’s a DVD?) player. Back to their phones they went. Both asked me how to find the WiFi. Sorry boys, this is not a GM product. Score one for GM.
The rear cargo area, like every vehicle in this class, can swallow not just some golf bags, but the golfers and caddys too. And maybe the bar at the 19th hole.
The full-sized spare was tucked under the vehicle, so the storage areas under the carpeted cargo floor offered even more cool storage areas. We threw in our week’s worth of camping/fishing/water toys/clothes/and all that jazz into the back and shut the hatch. No packing really needed.
The size advantages these full-size SUVs offer compared to a mid-size crossover cannot be overstated. When we used the third row (three across, power operated) seating everyone was comfortable, even the six-footer who bravely took the rear-most seat.
Driving the 2015 Infiniti QX80 was also a pleasure. The Infiniti Around View impressed everyone. It gives the driver a very clear sense of what is to the sides and rear of the vehicle. When you put the vehicle into reverse, it shares half the large screen with the back-up camera. With the cargo area packed to the gills and no view out the back window, the two camera systems made moving this big vehicle very easy. In all my testing, I have never used a better system. Get a little too close to an object and the QX80 starts to tell you. Keep going, and the QX will stop the vehicle before you hit it.
Enough about the experience of leaving your parking spot. Turn the QX80 into traffic and it again immediately sets itself apart from its peers. Even on the optional 22-inch wheels and tires, the QX80 offered the best ride of any full-sized SUV I have tested. One passenger said while we drove over rain-rutted dirt roads that “it almost feels like we are floating above the road.”
Despite that cushy ride, the QX80 still turns, brakes, and steers very well. As has been mentioned in every on one of my recent ginormous SUV reviews, these vehicles handle better than you would guess. The Infiniti seemed to be the best of the bunch. On the highway, it goes down the road perfectly straight and is, for lack of a better word, “tight.” Infiniti adds what it calls “Hydraulic Body Motion Control” to this vehicle. Presumably it is the vehicle’s body being controlled. Kidding aside, it seems to work. On twisty back roads, the QX80 was almost fun to push around. Not quite, but almost.
The 400-horsepower V8 engine was also a big surprise. It is so smooth that one never notices it until one toes the throttle a bit. Then big thrust and great sounds result. The seven-speed automatic was a perfect mate. No CVT for this Nissan product. Even with a full load of passengers and gear, the QX80 can accelerate up an on-ramp like a good V8 muscle car.
We had a few quibbles. First off, if 12 mpg around town, and if 18 mpg combined is upsetting to you, Infiniti has other seven-passenger vehicles you will surely love. Those were our observed numbers on the premium fuel Infiniti recommends. The EPA estimates you will get 14 MPG city / 20 highway / 16 combined.
Although we loved the infotainment system overall, we could not make the system play our Bluetooth audio. Have your dealer show you how it works.
There is no Pandora App and no WiFi in the vehicle.
Finally, like most systems of its type, the automatic high beams shut themselves off way too frequently. We were driving in the deep woods, on dirt roads, completely isolated with zero other traffic and they continued to drop back to regular beams frequently. Friends, these systems do not work. Un-program it at the dealer. Or skip the vehicle you are considering if it cannot be defeated. Don’t skip the QX80 though! The auto-high beams have a simple “off” setting right on the headlight stalk.
Upon reflection, if these are the only things we could find to complain about, the QX80 is clearly a vehicle that gets two-thumbs-up.
In conclusion, the Infiniti QX80 is a full-size SUV that sits atop the automotive kingdom. Its value is questionable at 80-Gs, but full-bling vehicles from all the other automakers share that issue. If there are a few simple things that separate this Infiniti from the pack they are exclusivity, handling, and the feeling of quality and refinement this vehicle provides better than the rest.
2015 Infiniti QX80 AWD
- Driver Assist Package ($2,100)
- Theater Package ($2,400)
- Deluxe Technology Package ($5,500)
- Illuminated Kick Plates ($440)
- Tire and Wheel Package ($2,450)
Price as tested: $80,285 Including Destination Charge
- Incredible Luxury Feel
- Robust Engine and Invisible Transmission
- Difficult to Operate Bluetooth Audio, no Pandora App
- Low Fuel Economy
- Automatic High Beams Too Sensitive