Jun
04
 2021 Infiniti QX80 Premium Select

2021 Infiniti QX80 Premium Select 4WD in Hermosa Blue

Consumer Guide Review 2021 Infiniti QX80 Premium Select

Class: Premium Large SUV

Miles driven: 160

Fuel used: 12.9 gallons

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortB
Power and PerformanceB+
Fit and FinishA-
Fuel EconomyD
ValueC-
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
Big GuyC
Tall GuyB+
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.
Drivetrain
Engine Specs400-hp 5.6-liter
Engine TypeV8
Transmission 7-speed automatic
Drive Wheels4WD

Real-world fuel economy: 12.4 mpg

Driving mix: 50% city, 50% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 13/19/15 (mpg city, highway, combined)

Fuel type: Premium gas recommended

Base price: $76,450 (not including $1395 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: Illuminated kick plates ($485), roof-rail cross bars ($410), Cargo Package ($295; includes rear cargo mat, cargo net, console net, and first-aid kit), exterior welcome lighting ($455)

Price as tested: $79,490

 

Quick Hits

The great: Luxury trimmings and features; rear-seat space

The good: Satisfyingly smooth, brisk acceleration for such a large vehicle

The not so good: Dismal fuel economy; high cargo floor; driver ergonomics and handling/ride composure not as refined as newer-design class rivals

More QX80 price and availability information

John Biel

If Infiniti sticks with the QX80 long enough, it finally might figure out how it wants to sell its premium large SUV. The number and names of trim levels have experienced nearly constant churn since the current generation bowed for the 2011 model year (as the QX56). In some of those years, the QX came just one way. Where there were two variants in 2020—Luxe and Limited—there now are three: Luxe at the bottom, Sensory at the top, and a new Premium Select in the middle. Plus, while Luxe prices have crept up, the 4-wheel-drive Sensory actually starts for $8150 less than the Limited that previously crowned the QX line.

 2021 Infiniti QX80 Premium Select

The QX80 is one of the oldest basic designs in the premium large SUV class; the current generation debuted as a 2011 model. Trim levels are rearranged for 2021, and the Smart Rearview Mirror video rearview mirror system is updated.

This deck shuffling is about the biggest thing going for the product line in 2021. Adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and a camera rearview mirror are added as standard equipment for all models. Otherwise, change happens incrementally to the QX80. The last time styling was touched up was for 2018. The 2-screen InTouch infotainment system arrived in ’20.

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QX80 Dashboard

Even with the switch to Infiniti’s InTouch dual-screen infotainment system for 2020, the QX80’s control layout is a bit more traditional than most of its class rivals–which some luxury SUV shoppers might prefer. The center console houses cupholders and the infotainment-system and 4WD-mode control knobs.

Consumer Guide tested a Premium Select with available 4×4 drive and nominal 7-passenger seating that had a starting price of $77,845 including delivery. Its chief distinction from the $4300-cheaper Luxe is in appearances. Premium Selects roll on 22-inch wheels (versus the Luxe’s 20-inchers). Dark-chrome finish for the wheels, grille surround, fender vents, and tailgate finisher; black mirror caps; and matte Mocha burl wood interior trim are unique to the Premium Select. A quartet of cargo-management and lighting accessories pushed the total price of the test truck to $79,490.

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2021 QX80

Our test vehicle was outfitted with Truffle Brown leather upholstery. The large second-row center console houses a generously sized covered storage bin, covered dual cupholders, and a storage bin with a flip-down cover.

Our QX test drives in recent years have been in Limiteds. While the Premium Select lacks a few of the luxury features that were found in them (many of which continue in the Sensory), it still comes with leather-upholstered seats, heated front seats, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote starting, tri-zone climate-control system, LED headlights and fog lights, power moonroof, roof rails, power-folding heated exterior mirrors, and power liftgate. Standard infotainment features are a 13-speaker Bose audio system, navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone compatibility, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Safety and driver-assist tech counts forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning and intervention, lane-departure warning and mitigation, Around View monitor with moving-object detection, back-up collision intervention, and headlight high-beam assist.

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2021 QX80

There’s ample space in the second-row seats. The third row is spacious enough for average-sized adults, but they’ll likely ride knees up, and even with the second-row seats slid and tilted forward, third-row access is tricky.

From the standpoints of power delivery, ride/handling character, and passenger/cargo accommodation, the ’21 QX80 virtually matches those we’ve previously driven. The 5.6-liter V8, joined to a 7-speed automatic transmission, makes the same 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque in force since 2011. It’s enough for pleasingly snappy acceleration, and the quick-to-kick-down trans fosters highway passing prowess. Just don’t expect to skip past gas stations, as our sub-14-mpg fuel consumption—consistent with prior tests—demonstrates.

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2021 QX80

There’s 16.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row seats, which grows to a capacious 95.1 cubic feet with both the second- and third-row seat backs folded to create a level load floor. A rear cargo mat and a velcro-backed first-aid kit (seen here affixed to the third-row seat back) are included in the optional Cargo Package.

In a slight change, all trims are now available in a choice of rear- or 4-wheel drive, the latter at a $3100 price premium. The 2-speed transfer case is activated by a control dial on the console. On the road, the tall QX can feel tippy and a little undisciplined in corners and lane changes. Some of that might be attributed to trying to serve the master of luxury-vehicle ride comfort at the same time while compensating for a lack of cushioning from the low-profile tires that come with the big wheels.

With the standard middle-row bucket seats and console, effective adult passenger capacity in the test truck was six; three kids probably could fit across the third-row 60/40-split bench to raise the count to seven. Seats in the roomy front two rows are extremely comfortable and supportive, but the third row isn’t as padded. Even with tipping middle seats, passage to the third row is tricky, and sub-6-foot adults will be the only grown-ups able to tolerate riding there. Seat position is high and glass area is ample for generally good driver vision, though it’s a challenge to get a clear view ahead of the hood. Cargo area goes from limited aft of third-row seats to very spacious with rear- and middle-row seats retracted—though the second-row console sticks up like an island around which long loads must be directed.

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2021 QX80

The QX80’s naturally aspirated 5.6-liter V8 engine pumps out 400 horsepower–enough for smooth, confident acceleration. Twenty-two-inch dark-finish forged-aluminum wheels are standard equipment.

Personal-item storage is quite good—the middle-row console has two storage bins by itself—and cup holders are provided for passengers in all rows. InTouch is easy to use (no console control dial or touchpad for this one), but the climate system has two stacks of repetitive-push buttons on either side of the screen that require more attention than dials for temperature and fan speed would need.

There’s true hardiness to the QX80, but it betrays its age. Lower prices and more variety may serve it for a while, but we can’t see it shoving the better-riding, more-powerful Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator from their CG “Best Buy” pedestals.

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 2021 Infiniti QX80 Premium Select

The Infiniti QX80 offers old-school SUV ruggedness and a lot of blingy swagger for the money, but most premium large SUV class rivals deliver superior driver ergonomics, technology features, fuel economy, and ride/handling refinement.

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