“Thou shalt not covet” is one of the 10 Commandments. “Lust” is one of the “seven deadly sins.” After spending a week driving the 2015 Infiniti QX80 in a striking metallic blue finish, I’m afraid I may have sent a few devout people running to the confessional to declare their sins.
A surprising number of people like, covet, desire and fantasize about owning this big SUV. Seriously. A whole bunch of people asked me a whole bunch of questions about the QX80 and here are the five reasons I gave them to consider this massive SUV.
Reason #1: Big, Brash and Sophisticated
By most standards, the Ford Flex is a big vehicle. Park the QX80 next to it, however, and Ford’s big wagon looks more like a hot hatchback by comparison.
Luxury SUVs don’t come cheap. I tested a $90,000+ Lexus LX 570 earlier this spring and the sticker on my Infiniti QX80 AWD test model started at $66,350. With a healthy dose of options it topped out at $80,285 (including a $995 destination charge). For that price, you get a staggering amount of luxury goodness packed into this honkin’ SUV.
Sit down in the 10-way adjustable driver’s seat and cast your eyes on a cabin that includes more soft-touch surfaces than a Baby Gap store and more leather than a dominatrix’s dungeon. Like all Infiniti vehicles, the interior is tastefully appointed without becoming garish. Expect soft leather and Stratford Burl wood accents on the dash, the center console and steering wheel.
The ride is surprisingly refined. The QX80 is equally comfortable around town or on a long road trip thanks to the supple seats and the slew of entertainment features. The ride was smooth. Wind and road noise at freeway speeds was minimal. Body roll or lean was negligible thanks to the optional Hydraulic Body Motion Control system that monitors movement and distributes variable pressure to the inner or outer suspension as needed. Put simply, it rides like a car instead of the 5,800-pound behemoth it is.
Reason #2: V8 Power Drives this Big Rig
The QX80 offers a single powertrain: a 5.6-liter V8 that makes 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. While you’ll appreciate that power when you accelerate past slower traffic or work your way up a steep, snow-covered hill, you should also consider becoming a shareholder in an oil company because you’re going to buy a lot of fuel to fill the QX80.
The EPA estimates the QX80 should average 14 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway. Last year I drove the 2014 Infiniti QX80 and averaged 15 mpg, just under the EPA’s 16-mpg combined average. This time I intentionally spent most of my driving time on city streets instead of the highway and averaged a dismal 12 mpg. Sixteen miles per gallon means you’ll spend an average of $3,500 annually if you drive 15,000 miles per year at a cost of $3.80 per gallon.
Reason #3: Loaded with Safety Features
My favorite feature of Infiniti and Nissan vehicles is the Around View Monitor. It’s an impressive safety innovation that combines the images from multiple onboard cameras to create a bird’s-eye view of your vehicle. It never ceases to amaze people who haven’t seen it in action before. And speaking of action, with the combination rearview camera and Around View Monitor providing exceptional visibility, backing up is ridiculously easy and precise. So much so that some friends complimented me on my “amazing parallel parking skills” after I backed this huge vehicle into a relatively tiny downtown space in a single try.
The QX80 also offers a blind spot warning system that helps keep you aware of unseen vehicles in your blind spot and intelligent cruise control that maintains a safe traveling distance behind the car in front of you. If you spend lots of hours on the highway, it’s a worthwhile upgrade that helps make highway driving safer.
Safety scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration are not available. But the standard array of airbags and optional safety features in the QX80 should ensure that drivers feel protected piloting this big rig in nearly any traffic setting.
Reason #4: Packed with Electronic Goodness
The Infiniti has just about every kind of electronic comfort feature you could ever want. The 8-inch touchscreen in the center console lets you do everything from adjusting your navigation, audio, phone and Bluetooth settings to watching a movie when safely parked. The 13-speaker Bose system sounds great, too. Plus, you can view information about fuel economy, tire pressure, maintenance, traffic and weather on the center screen. Best of all, it’s a nearly idiot-proof system since buttons and settings are clearly marked.
Rear passengers will enjoy the 7-inch headrest-mounted screens for movies and wireless headphones for audio. Bluetooth worked well enough for the phone, but I had a tough time get streaming audio to consistently work with my iPhone 5. However, I was able to use the standard USB port to stream audio from my phone.
The Theater Package adds $2,400 to the price, and the Deluxe Technology Package that includes heated and cooled front seats, wood-trimmed steering wheel and shifter, blind spot system and lane departure warning and prevention system adds another $5,500 to the cost. Watch yourself on the options list if cost of this luxury SUV is something you’re watching closely.
Reason #5: Off-Road Capability and Comfortable Handling
The only time most QX80 drivers will venture off road will be to veer onto the freeway side strip for a few moments while you swap Despicable Me 2 for Frozen in the DVD player.
But, just in case you actually want to intentionally drive on dirt roads in this hulking car, the QX80 is happy to oblige. While 20-inch wheels are standard, my test vehicle was equipped with 22-inch wheels. That’s no typo; 22-inch wheels are available on the QX80. To put that size in perspective, the Honda CR-V you passed on the freeway today likely has 16- or 17-inch wheels. These 22-inchers make an already tall vehicle positively giant. However, if you plan to do any serious off-roading, we would steer you toward the 20-inch wheels. More practical and still impressive.
The Infiniti QX80 sports a large dial right behind the gear shifter in the center console that lets you select 4-high or 4-low as well as a choice of Tow or Snow mode. I tested the QX80 during late June and had no chance to drive in snow. But I’ve previously driven this vehicle on a snow-covered road and the SUV sliced through the drifts as smoothly as Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys used to pierce defensive lines during his long NFL career.
Impressively Large and Luxurious
People like and want the QX80. The problem is, most people can’t justify the price. It’s expensive. And it’s luxurious. And it’s very nice to drive. You’ll pay a lot for the SUV and then more money to keep gas in the thirsty tank. But it turns heads and people genuinely enjoy riding in the QX80.
If the QX80 fits your budget, you’ll be very happy. If not, the Infiniti QX60 is a good alternative that offers many of the same features in a smaller size and smaller price that starts just over $42,000. If money were no object for me, I would choose the QX80 every time.
2015 Infiniti QX80 photo copyright Waterdog Media, Inc.