Tuesday, June 22, 2021




It assumed its present designation when the Japanese automaker adopted a new naming strategy for  its product line. Starting with 2014 models, Infiniti labeled its sedans, coupes, and convertibles as “Q” and crossovers and SUVs as “QX” with the number that follows not based on engine size but rather representing its status in the portfolio — essentially the bigger the number the bigger the vehicle.

Thus as you might deduce from the number 80, the QX80 represents that largest of Infiniti’s SUVs.

Got all that?

Though offering lots of room in a sophisticated interior and a powerful engine, the Infiniti QX80 generally has lagged behind the top-selling Cadillac Escalade and Mercedes-Benz GL/GLS Class in the large luxury SUV segment. The first quarter numbers for 2021 have it trailing both the Lincoln Navigator and BMW X7 as well, though not by much.

Most of the criticism aimed at the QX80 has to do with poor fuel economy and there isn’t enough separation between the QX80 and the parent-company’s Nissan Armada on which it is based. The interior is nice, yes, but a luxury vehicle should make you go “wow” when you first get in. The QX80 elicits more of a “Hmmmm.”

When it comes to room and cabin features and towing capacity, however, the 2021 Infiniti QX80 matches up well in its class.

The 2021 QX80 comes in three trim levels — Luxe and new Premium Select and Sensory models, the latter two replacing the 2020 QX80 Limited edition. This review is based on the 2021 Infiniti QX80 Premium Select that carries an opening MSRP of $76,450 in all-wheel-drive configuration.

A RWD Q80 Luxe starts at just under $70,000 before destination and delivery charges are added in, and the Sensory trim with AWD tops the portfolio at just over $83,000.

All QX80 SUVs get a 5.6-liter V8 engine under the hood mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. The engine packs a punch of 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque to move its nearly three tons with ease. Curb weight for the Premium Select is 5,706 pounds, and towing capacity for the QX80 is an impressive 8,500 pounds

Not surprisingly, that power comes at a cost in fuel economy. EPA ratings for the Premium Select AWD are 13 miles per gallon city, 19 highway and 15 combined, and premium fuel is recommended for top operation.

The QX80 not only will tow your boat comfortably, it also is up for off-road ventures. The 4-wheel drive system has settings for automatic, 4Hi and 4Lo along with Snow and Towing modes adjusted by a spin of a dial on the center console. Giant 22-inch wheels also are standard on Premium Select and Sensory trims, which also get a full-size spare.

Inside, leather seats with up to 39 inches of legroom up front and 41.3 in the second row coddle occupants. It’s not much of a task to get to the far back, but the third row is better left for smaller children in the case of long rides. Legroom room back there is less than 30 inches.

Storage capacity with third-row seats in place is 16.6 cubic feet. Fold up the third row and available space nearly triples to 48.6 cubic feet.

Some reviewers have criticized the infotainment system as being “dated,” but the dual-screen, InTouch system is easy enough to operate, and navigation is standard. Adaptive cruise control also has been made standard for 2021 to go along with such features as remote engine start, LED headlights and fog lights, roof rails, a power rear liftgate, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, heated front seats, hill start assist, trailer sway control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a wifi hotspot.

Safety features included in the MSRP for the QX80 Premium Select include forward collision warning and brake assist with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and prevention, an around view monitor, and blind-spot warning.

My vehicle for the week came with options that included premier paint, exterior welcome lighting, illuminated kick plates, roof rail crossbars, and a cargo package (cargo mat, cargo net, console net, and first-aid kit).

That ran the bottom line to $80,185 including the $1,395 destination and delivery charge.

What I liked about the 2021 Infiniti QX80 Premium Select:
Some critics have panned the two-screen setup for infotainment functions, but as someone who likes to fiddle with the radio I like being able to search the dial while keeping the navigation screen up. Some functions also operate on easy-to-use buttons or knobs. Lots of grab handles and a running board help you get in and out. There are good-size storage bins in both the front and second rows and decent cargo area behind the third row. Buttons both in the cargo area and on armrests lower and raise third row seats. Towing capacity is excellent. 

What I didn’t like about the 2021 Infiniti QX80 Premium Select: The top display screen (primarily for the navigation map and camera views) needs to be bigger. The V8 engine is very thirsty and likes the good stuff when it comes to fuel. Second-row legroom is plentiful, but you pay for it with a tight third row.

Would I buy the 2021 Infiniti QX80 Premium Select? I have no interest in buying a large SUV, even a nice looking one like the QX80. It has good roominess in the first two rows and has a competitive price for its segment. If Infiniti would give the cabin a major update, the QX80 would come highly recommended.

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