The aughts are dead, long live the aughts! That seems to be the prevailing mentality these days as the full-size, body-on-frame SUV enjoys a renaissance that recalls the pre-recession years. To take advantage of the segment's reborn popularity, many automakers are updating their behemoth SUVs. The latest rig to pop into the powder room and freshen up is the 2018 INFINITI QX80, which at 210 inches stem to stern is the dreadnought of the INFINITI fleet.
What's New for 2018
The silhouette may be largely the same, but a host of updates have found their way into the QX80. For starters, the fascia now boasts slimmer headlights, a more upright grille, and larger functional air dams. The rear receives a similar treatment, with new taillights and liftgate serving to differentiate this year's SUV from the last. There is more sound deadening and interior storage space, and new interior trimmings ratchet up the cabin's luxury quotient.
The big QX benefits from a technological leap forward as well. There is an updated rear entertainment unit that is now compatible with HDMI devices and can treat viewers with a high-definition picture. If the driver needs to get everyone's attention, there is an all-mute button up front to cut the sound to all infotainment systems front and rear. Buyers can also use their smartphone to sound the alarm, start the car and set the climate control. The car's smart key allows the driver to set specific settings that will be paired to that key specifically, so when it is used to start the SUV the settings are automatically adjusted to. As the QX80 comes with two keys, this means that each key can store and save all their user's preferences, from seat position to radio presets - a boon for any couple regularly sharing their ride with each other.
Choosing Your INFINITI QX80
What hasn't changed is the powertrain. As with last year's model, a 5.6-liter V8 is under the hood and produces 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. It is matched to a seven-speed automatic that offers drivers a manual shift mode, though don't expect to be banging shifts off the redline; this is, after all, a luxury SUV, and as such it is tuned for comfort and smoothness above all else. If the temptation to bury the throttle is just too much to resist, this three-ton mastodon will sprint to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, and will continue to run up to a top speed 130 mph.
Like any good luxury SUV, the QX80 has a variety of hoity-toity options. The available smart rearview mirror toggles from a standard mirror to a monitor that streams video from a camera mounted on the rear-windshield. This technology offers a wide-angle lens that helps reduce rear blind spots, a welcome bit of tech on such a large vehicle. There's also a whole roster of safety features available, including predictive forward collision warning, lane departure warning, forward emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and backup collision intervention.
Another interesting option that buyers won't see but will most certainly feel is the Hydraulic Body Motion Control. This bit of suspension chicanery uses a pair of linked hydraulic cylinders that work to effectively reduce body roll; the result is a QX that corners flatter than one would expect for such a tall and large vehicle, and offers a ride that the brand claims is 35% stiffer than the segment bestseller (which INFINITI fails to name but can be presumed to be the Cadillac Escalade).
The QX80 is available in either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Gas mileage for the former is 14 miles per gallon city and 20 highway, while the latter is rated at 13/19. There are no trim levels on the QX80; the model simply starts at a base price, and from there buyers are able to add a variety of packages and options.
The QX80 begins at $65,745 (including destination). It includes leather upholstery, a class IV hitch, a 13-speaker Bose sound system, tri-zone climate control, Bluetooth, moonroof, touchscreen infotainment and navigation, INFINITI InTouch Services complimentary for four years, surround-view camera, LED lights, and auto-dimming, power-folding, heated mirrors. There is also a heated ten-way power driver's seat, a heated eight-way power passenger seat, dual memory settings for the driver's seat, steering wheel and mirrors, second-row captain's chairs, and a power-folding third-row.
Unsurprisingly for a luxury vehicle bereft of trim levels, the available packages and options are numerous. The $2,900 Driver Assistance Package includes all the aforementioned active safety features. For those who don't want second-row captain's seats, $250 gets a second row 60/40 split bench that ups seating capacity from seven to eight. For $450, buyers can purchase in-car wifi, which allows up to five devices to connect simultaneously. For $2,800, buyers can get 22-inch wheels shod in all-season performance tires. The Theater Package costs $2,450, and includes dual eight-inch monitors mounted in the back of the front-seat headrests, two wireless headphones as well as two headphone jacks, a wireless remote, an HDMI and USB port, 120V power outlet, and heated second-row seats.
The $5,700 Deluxe Technology Package is the priciest add-on available for the QX80. The contents of this posh package include Hydraulic Body Motion Control, the smart rearview mirror, ventilated front seats, semi-aniline leather seats that boast a rich-looking diamond-stitch pattern, a 15-speaker Bose sound system, Burl wood trim in either charcoal or espresso, auto-leveling headlights, chrome mirror caps, headlight washers and an advanced climate control system.
Don't leave the dealer lot without the active safety features package; $2,900 is well worth the peace of mind that comes with having today's technology standing at the ready in the case of any emergency. Also a must-have is the Deluxe Technology Package; it adds a level of ritz and glamour to the QX80 that the base model lacks, and on top of that the nifty Hydraulic Body Motion Control promises to offer handling that is less ocean barge and more actual SUV.