There’s a certain sense of individuality that comes with driving the 2022 Infiniti QX80.
It’s not just that few people buy these behemoths to begin with, but that the QX80 is – well, it’s old. The current version dates back about a dozen years, when it was still called the QX56 in an ode to its engine size.
Three updates and a name change later, and this body-on-frame family hauler is mostly the same as it was all those years ago. An updated infotainment system makes the 2022 QX80 feel at least a little modern, but this is a throwback through and through.
The age of this full-size SUV has its pros and cons, starting under the hood. It’s powered by the same 5.6L V8 that made its first appearance way back in 2010. Even then, it’s little more than a modernized version of the motor that powered the original QX56 that debuted in 2004.
There’s no cylinder deactivation or fancy forced induction here – just plain-old V8 power. The 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque the engine generates is still class-competitive to this day, and there’s refined brutishness to all its combustible force.
Fuel Economy: 3/10
The lack of any sort of fuel-saving technology – there’s no ignition stop-start system, either – means the QX80 isn’t especially efficient. Granted, the new Grand Wagoneer from Jeep has a worse combined consumption rate than the 15.1 L/100 km this Infiniti is officially good for; but it’s a bit of a race to the bottom as far as fuel economy and emissions are concerned.
In real-world testing, that number proved as elusive as a carrot on a stick. Even removing the towing test from the equation (more on that shortly) did little to soften the blow of the QX80’s fuel bill, with the final tally coming in at a heart-stopping 20.1 L/100 km. Yes, that’s premium-grade gas, too.
That kind of inefficiency comes with the territory in an SUV like this, as does the 3,856 kg (8,500 lb) it’s rated to tow. That’s the kind of capacity that makes quick work of all types of trailers – including, say, those of the dual-axle variety loaded with a set of heavy-duty Dana 60s. Complementing its ability to haul is the QX80’s standard Class IV hitch and seven-pin wiring harness, all of which is neatly hidden behind a removable panel in the bumper, as well as a button-activated tow/haul mode, and self-levelling rear suspension.
The QX80 is downright cavernous inside, with three rows of seats and space for seven or eight occupants, depending on configuration. Both of its two trims can be had with the choice of a three-person bench seat or twin captain’s chairs in the second row (pricing is the same either way), with the latter also adding a centre console.
Storage is generous throughout the cabin, with all kinds of cubbies and compartments for small items. Cargo room behind the power-folding third row is a reasonable 470 L – a number that swells to 1,405 L with it stowed. Finally, there’s 2,693 L with the second-row seats stashed. While the slightly larger Cadillac Escalade boasts more interior space in all configurations, what’s here is used well (plus there are roof rails for those that need more capacity).
Driving Feel: 9/10
The Herculean strength of this sizeable sport utility was on full display while towing, the QX80 making child’s play of the roughly 1,361 kg (3,000 lb) hooked up to the back. Even at triple-digit highway speeds the tach needle stayed below 2,000 rpm, the engine quietly humming along as if the trailer wasn’t even there, let alone the roughly 318 kg (700 lb) of payload inside the vehicle.
Decoupling the trailer let the refinement of this drivetrain shine brightest, the seven-speed automatic transmission barely stirring while changing gears. Add in the standard four-wheel drive system’s set-it-and-forget-it automatic mode and the QX80 shuffles torque around effectively, with no need for driver intervention. (Selectable high- and low-range gearing is here, too, should it be required.)
While the steering is a little light and lacks the kind of resistance a vehicle this size should have, it’s beneficial when parking or negotiating narrow laneways, the electrically power-assisted system responding to inputs quickly. It’s also helpful when aligning with a trailer or reversing with one hooked up, with little effort required to keep it all pointed in the right direction.
While the QX80 can’t be had with air suspension like some of its contemporaries, the top trim’s so-called body motion control uses hydraulic cylinders that are pressurized according to conditions. When cornering, for instance, it stiffens the outside suspension to effectively eliminate body roll. The system also helps on rough roads by using its hydraulic fluid to smoothly absorb wheel travel. Considering its body-on-frame construction, as well as the top trim’s massive 22-inch wheels, ride quality is impressive enough to make air suspension an afterthought.
The cabin could use a little more insulation from outside interference, with the big, flat door mirrors generating quite a bit of wind noise on the highway, but it’s a cozy space in spite of its cavernous size. The quilted leather upholstery provides a sort of upscale flair that’s still in style today, while the seats are comfortable despite lacking much contouring. The ones up front, meanwhile, feature three-stage heat and ventilation, while the steering wheel and second-row seats are heated, too.
The QX80’s age is apparent inside, with heavily lacquered wood trim pieces throughout and dated controls pulled from the Nissan parts bin. While the available saddle brown or black leather are both a little more timeless and universally appreciated, the ivory upholstery in this tester is certainly a more subjective choice.
This bruiser doesn’t lack presence, and designers made the most of it with rounded edges that play up its size. Riding on 22-inch wheels and finished in Hermosa Blue paint ($750), this tester was easy to spot in the grocery store parking lot, that’s for sure. It’s a fairly inoffensive SUV to look at, particularly next to competitors like the Cadillac Escalade or the buck-toothed BMW X7.
New for 2022 is a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system that features both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections – although only the former is of the wireless variety. Both trims also feature built-in navigation, as well as a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot.
Other standard fare includes a 17-speaker stereo, a rear-seat entertainment system with separate screens on the front headrests, auto-dimming mirrors, tri-zone automatic climate control, power-folding third-row seats, and a power tailgate that might be the slowest on the market to open. The top trim, which the brand has dubbed “Proactive” (no, seriously), gets a couple extra goodies like a camera-based rearview mirror and an air purifying system.
Also exclusive to the top trim is adaptive cruise control; the cheaper Luxe gets a conventional system. Likewise, lane-keeping and blind-spot intervention are reserved for the Proactive. Otherwise, both trims get forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, surround-view cameras, and trailer sway control, among a few others.
User Friendliness: 8/10
Like its mainstream sister brand, Infiniti employs handy buttons – in this case, on the steering wheel and near the driver’s left knee – to activate the various warnings and preventative systems all at once. They can also be controlled individually through the instrument cluster screen, while the adaptive cruise control’s following distance can be adjusted via a button on the wheel.
Much of the rest of the interior controls are equally as intuitive, with plenty of tactile buttons and dials for climate, volume and tune knobs for audio, and a fairly straightforward infotainment system. Unfortunately, Apple CarPlay doesn’t project in the same widescreen format as the display itself, using about two thirds of it instead; but relevant information like audio or even weather can be called up on the right side of the screen.
Value is a fickle matter with a vehicle like this. Because the QX80 costs thousands of dollars less than most of its competitors, with even this top trim coming in at $91,790 before tax but with its non-negotiable $2,095 freight charge included. (This tester also had a pearlescent paint job that made it $92,540 before the government’s share.) The Lexus LX is about $17,000 more, while others like the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator can also easily crest six figures – although both are much more modern. Then there’s the QX80 Luxe that rings in at $83,790 before tax, making the gulf in pricing even larger.
Alas, it’s hard to ignore just how old the 2022 Infiniti QX80 is – especially next to new rivals like the Escalade and Navigator that can be had with massaging seats and semi-autonomous technology befitting of their flagship statuses. In the case of the QX80, that same standing isn’t so much earned as it is given. This is the largest vehicle in the brand’s lineup, after all, but that’s about all that makes it Infiniti’s crown jewel.
There’s also the matter of the Nissan Armada that’s mechanically identical to the QX80 and comes with all kinds of standard advanced safety items including adaptive cruise control – all for a starting price that’s about $11,000 less. However, no Armada trim can be had with the QX80’s hydraulic body control system, which is good enough to give some serious pause for thought.
Of course, its age isn’t enough to make this hulking family hauler a bad vehicle. Far from it, in fact. It may lack the flashy frills of the competition, but there’s a certain charm that comes with a vehicle so firmly rooted in the past. For those after a simple, spacious, and conventionally capable sport utility with just enough luxury to get by – and who don’t mind the big fuel bill that comes with it – few in the segment deliver with the same kind of moxy as the 2022 Infiniti QX80.
|Peak Horsepower||400 hp @ 5,800 rpm|
|Peak Torque||413 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||17.5 / 12.2 / 15.1 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||470 / 1,405 / 2,693 L behind 3rd/2nd/1st row|
|Model Tested||2022 Infiniti QX80 Proactive 7-Passenger|
|Price as Tested||$92,640|
$750 – Hermosa Blue Paint, $750