Class: Premium Large SUV
Miles Driven: 967
Fuel Used: 65.9 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 14.7 mpg
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||B|
|Power and Performance||A|
|Fit and Finish||A|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
Driving mix: 20% city, 80% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 13/19/15 (city, highway, combined)
Base price: $89,450 (not including $995 destination charge)
Options on test car: None
Price as tested: $90,445
The great: Passenger and cargo space, luxury appointments, quietness
The good: Powertrain performance
The not so good: Fuel economy, ride composure
By Consumer Guide’s count, there are only eight vehicles in the “Premium Large SUV” class, making it (rather ironically) one of the smallest in all of autodom.
In that rarified segment, the Infiniti QX80 runs about mid-pack in sales, coming in behind the Audi Q7, Cadillac Escalade, Land Rover Range Rover, and Mercedes-Benz GLS, but ahead of the Lexus LX, Lincoln Navigator, and Toyota Land Cruiser.
Still, it’s not as though the streets are thick with QX80s. And when you do see one, it stands out for its huge crosshatch grille and bulbous front end flanked by pencil-thin headlights, along with its reverse-slant rear roof pillar. So it doesn’t often escape notice — particularly if you hang out at gas stations.
In my 176 miles of 80-percent highway driving, I averaged a sobering 15.4 mpg. Yet that was nearly 1 mpg better than Tom and Damon did in their 791-mile drive that included a run from Chicago to Detroit (at, I suspect, a somewhat higher velocity) that also worked out to about 80 percent highway. Countering that was my recorded 0-60-mph time of just 6.1 seconds, pretty darn quick for a behemoth with this much space and a near-three-ton curb weight.
Although Infiniti also offers rear- and all-wheel-drive “base” models, the tested top-line QX80 AWD Limited started – and ended – at just over $90,000. (The only option offered for the Limited is a $450 WiFi hotspot, which makes you wonder why this .005-percent addition isn’t just standard.) Noteworthy features of the Limited include Truffle Brown quilted leather upholstery, Open Pore matte-finish ash wood trim, a Theater Package (with rear-seat entertainment), and huge 22-inch wheels, which replace 20s on other models.
It’s that last addition that may have produced some unwanted side effects. Even relatively small pavement imperfections seemed to generate some “nervous” motions, though larger bumps didn’t make things much worse. This is often the case when such large-diameter wheels shod with corresponding low-profile tires (with short, somewhat inflexible sidewalls) are fitted. Handling was decent for such a tall, heavy vehicle, and the turning circle was more compact than I’d expected (Infiniti says it measures out to 41.6 feet).
We touched on the impressive power before, but it deserves more clarification. Nail the gas from a stop, and the QX80’s 400-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 responds by giving the heavy SUV a strong jump off the line. And quick downshifts from the automatic transmission result in an equally impressive rush if you hit the gas while underway. Furthermore, the combination gives the QX80 a beefy 8500-lb towing capacity.
Climb inside, and the QX80 looks every part of its $90,000 sticker. While I’m not a real fan of quilted leather, someone who is will be in heaven, and “flat” leather covers many surfaces. Nicer to me was the rich-looking wood and metal trim, the former, especially, being in vast supply.
As expected, there’s great headroom and legroom in the front and 2nd rows. Adults can fit in the 3rd row, as there’s decent head and leg room, but the low seat cushion will have them riding knees-up (not so much a problem with small kids). The vehicle’s high stance means a tall step-up into the interior, but running boards help.
The QX80 uses a combination of buttons, small knobs, a larger central-dash-mounted control knob, and a high dash screen for most audio/navigation/phone/climate adjustments, and most work OK. But some audio and climate controls are mounted low on a vertical panel that makes them unusually difficult to see and reach.
Visibility is rather poor to the front corners due to thick roof pillars, but it’s OK to the sides and back, and our tester offered a 360-degree “Around View” camera in addition to a conventional rearview camera. Interior storage is good rather than great, with the large console box offering the biggest compartment.
Though the cargo floor in back is high – so you have to lift items far off the ground to slide them in – cargo space is vast. Fold down the 2nd– and 3rd-row seat backs, and a 4×8-foot sheet can lie nearly flat on the floor (“nearly,” because the 2nd-row center console sticks up a bit higher than the folded seat back, so the panel has to rest on the console lid), though it sticks out past the bumper a bit.
Just about every comfort, convenience, and safety feature you’d expect in a modern $90,000 vehicle are present and accounted for; best as we could tell, the QX80 Limited lacks for about nothing. It’s big, it’s brawny, and it’s loaded with luxury.