Infiniti's line-wide model-name shakeup continues to confuse, so allow me to reintroduce you to the new QX56. Redesigned for 2011 and renamed for 2014, Infiniti's flagship SUV now goes by the name QX80. This V-8-powered beast comes in rear- or all-wheel drive and offers loads of passenger room, with seating for seven or eight across three rows of seats.
Passengers in a 2014 Infiniti QX80 will arrive in comfort and style thanks to a roomy cabin loaded with premium goodies, but this SUV's limited cargo room and its hearty appetite for premium fuel don't impress us.
Aside from its new name, the QX80 carries over without any significant changes this year. See both model years compared here. Other vehicles in this class include the Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LX 570 and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. Compare them all here.
Exterior & Styling
This is a truck for those who want to be noticed. While it doesn't quite offer Cadillac Escalade-levels of eye candy, the king-sized QX80 shows off plenty of bling, with its enormous chrome grille and its trio of rectangular vent ports.
But, in the words of Shania Twain, "That don't impress me much." If you, too, aren't wowed by over-the-top flash, the QX80's overall look will likely strike you as more awkward than graceful thanks to plenty of shiny bits, a protruding nose and a squared-off rear end. The QX80 is as strange and ungainly looking as the rest of Infiniti's lineup is elegant and classy.
How It Drives
The strong 400-horsepower, 5.6-liter V-8 moves the hulking, 5,500-plus-pound SUV without strain; in fact, you can barely hear it. The engine is nicely muted and the entire cabin is well insulated from road and wind noise. Overall, the seven-speed automatic delivered smooth and responsive shifts that made for confident passing and merging, but it did hunt for gears on occasion.
You'll pay dearly for that power, however. Both two- and all-wheel-drive QX80s are EPA rated at 14/20/16 mpg city/highway/combined, and premium fuel is recommended. Dismal fuel economy isn't just an Infiniti problem; the new two-wheel-drive 2015 Cadillac Escalade (15/21/17 mpg) and V-8-powered versions of the GL-Class (14/19/16 mpg) are comparable; the Lexus LX 570 brings up the rear with 12/17/14 mpg.
The QX80 is available with standard rear- or optional all-wheel drive. My test model was equipped with all-wheel drive. It felt solid and stable on snowy roads, easily plowing through winter's road sludge. The ride overall felt comfortably soft — until you hit broken pavement. Smaller bumps were absorbed well, but the QX80 had a tendency to float over larger ones. It felt much more composed, however, than the Lexus LX 570's truck-like ride.
Although I was comfortable powering through snow- and ice-packed roads, the steering didn't quite inspire confidence. It felt too light and twitchy at highway speeds on dry pavement, requiring constant minor corrections. Maneuverability overall is a high point, however. At low speeds, the steering was nicely weighted with good feedback. I'd never call it nimble, but the QX80 feels more agile than a lot of vehicles its size. Parking was less challenging than expected thanks to clear rear sight lines (as long as the third-row head restraints are down), enormous side mirrors and a backup camera with parking guides, supplemented by an Around View Monitor.
The QX80 is a beast outside and nothing short of cavernous inside. Once you figure out how to launch yourself over the enormously high step-in, you'll never want to leave. The first and second rows are trimmed in posh leather and high-quality materials for a design that's tasteful but understated — seemingly at odds with its ostentatious exterior styling.
Real wood panels and aluminum trim are blended together for an elegant effect. Every other surface is padded, and the panels are well-fitted. The seats are easily among the most comfortable I've experienced; they could be straight out of a spa — extra wide and wonderfully comfy. All that's missing is a recliner. All this loveliness isn't just for the first row; second-row passengers are treated to the same level of luxury, with loads of headroom and legroom; plush, cozy bucket seats; plenty of storage bins; and lots of available extras, including a dual-screen entertainment system and heated seats, both optional. Second-row bucket seats are standard, but a three-seat bench is available.
Third-row passengers get short shrift, however. The bench seat is hard and flat, and even small adults will not fit comfortably back there; both headroom and legroom are in short supply. With 28.8 inches of third-row legroom, the QX80 trails the GL-Class (35) but bests the LX 570 (28.3) and Escalade (24.8).
The second row can't share legroom, either. Although the touch of a button tumbles the second-row's bucket seats forward for easy third-row access, the seats don't slide forward and back. Parents with kids in child-safety seats should take note: Because a giant center console sits between the buckets, third row access is blocked when child seats are installed. Click here to read how compatible the QX80 is with smaller children and see more details in the Safety section below.
Ergonomics & Electronics
Infiniti's multimedia system uses an appealing blend of physical controls and touch-screen functionality, often giving users a choice between the two. The touch-screen is easy to use for audio and navigation tasks; the map and destination menus make sense, and most tasks require only a few steps. Additional audio knobs and buttons are convenient if you'd rather not use the screen. Even better, all climate controls are physical knobs and buttons that have not been absorbed by the multimedia system.
Both rows have plenty of connectivity options, with several USB and auxiliary input ports in the first and second rows. Four 12-volt DC power outlets are standard; one AC power outlet is optional.
Cargo & Storage
Here's where things stop making sense. In terms of small-items storage, the QX80 is a champ, with loads of cubbies, bins and cupholders for the first and second rows. Behind the third row, however, space is paltry. The cargo area was clearly an afterthought: For such a honkin' vehicle, there's not a lot of usable space when the third row is up. In fact, many subcompact cars offer more cargo space than the QX80's 16.6 cubic feet, including the teeny-tiny Mitsubishi Mirage (17.2 cubic feet). Again, it's not just an Infiniti problem. Lots of large three-row SUVs get an F for cargo capacity, including the Escalade (15.3), LX 570 (15.5) and GL-Class (16 cubic feet).
The numbers look much better once the third row goes down. It folds in a 60/40 split via two cargo-area buttons. With it flat, space jumps to a respectable 49.6 cubic feet, besting the LX 570 (41.0) and GL-Class (49.4) but falling behind the Escalade (51.6 cubic feet).
Like most full-size SUVs, the 2014 Infiniti QX80 hasn't been crash-tested by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The helpful Around View Monitor, which offers a view of all sides, as if from above the SUV, is standard, and Infiniti offers a ton of optional safety equipment available in a $3,250 Technology Package, including Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning and Backup Collision Warning, as well as Backup Collision Intervention. The latter is a new system that will automatically engage the brakes in an impending backup collision. Other systems include Blind Spot Warning and Blind Spot Intervention, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention. Click here for a full list of safety features.
Although the QX80 offers loads of second-row passenger room, it didn't perform as well as expected when it came to accommodating child-safety seats. Click here to read our Car Seat Check.
Value in Its Class
Rear-wheel-drive versions of the 2014 Infiniti QX80 start at $63,545; all-wheel drive brings the total to $66,645. Competitors start much higher, especially the Escalade ($72,690 in rear-wheel-drive trim) and the all-wheel-drive-only LX 570 ($83,540); all prices include destination charges. The QX80 is well-equipped, too, with luxury standards like remote start, a moonroof, a power liftgate, navigation, rear climate control, a heated steering wheel and leather seats.
Large families looking for luxury, passenger room and towing capacity (it's rated for 8,500 pounds) will feel right at home in the QX80's king-sized first and second rows. Its lack of cargo room could be a problem, however, and its price tag quickly becomes hard to swallow. Now we know where the "80" comes from: While it starts lower than many SUVs in its class, my test version came very close to hitting $80,000 thanks to expensive safety and convenience packages. Sure, it delivers the bells and whistles, but you'll have to shell out a lot to get them.
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