Car, or yacht? Aside from a facelift or two, the INFINITI QX80 has remained essentially unchanged for the last decade. It’s a big, luxurious SUV for hauling lots of people and lots of stuff.
The 2021 INFINITI QX80 is well suited for the mission. The front row is an especially pleasant place to spend time, with supportive overstuffed seats and a commanding view of the road. The second row can be configured as either a bench or captain’s chairs, but both provide plenty of room to stretch.
Even the third row is better than you’d expect – with nearly 29 inches of leg room, the way-back is suitable for adults on short trips. Cargo capacity is predictably excellent, with 16.6 cubic feet behind the third row and 95.1 after everything’s folded. That won’t quite match behemoths like the Cadillac Escalade, but it’s more than enough for most families.
Features for the family. Despite its age, the QX80 comes with most of the features we look for in a luxury cruiser. Even base models get a sunroof and leather upholstery. A newly comprehensive suite of safety tech helps the QX80 keep up with modernity.
Front and center on the dash are two touchscreens handling infotainment, navigation, and vehicle functions. They’re responsive and sharp, but the multi-screen interface can get tiring after a while. Smartphone compatibility is included, but the system lacks advanced features like gesture control or voice activation.
INFINITI’s limited warranty is among the best in the class at four years or 60,000 miles. That provides some welcome peace of mind, although there’s no complimentary scheduled maintenance.
Performance at a price. The INFINITI QX80’s best feature might be what’s under the hood. Every model gets a strong 5.6-liter V8 making 400 horsepower, which is substantially more than the base engine of most rivals. Towing capacity is an impressive 8,500 pounds.
The QX80 needs every bit of that power, because it’s one of the heaviest cars on the road – the ladder-frame construction tips the scales at nearly 6,000 pounds. You notice it in the handling, where the QX80 leans and struggles to change direction. The steering is numb, and the QX80’s bulk makes it difficult to maneuver in tight parking lots.
What do you get when you combine a big engine with lots of mass? Atrocious gas mileage. Expect combined mpg in the mid-teens, or even less with all-wheel drive. This is one area where the QX80 feels like a dinosaur, and owners should be prepared to pay up at the pump.
Searching for luxury. Luxury SUVs have to deliver more than pure utility, and the QX80’s spacious cabin has plenty of opportunity to spoil its passengers. It doesn’t always succeed. The glovebox is unlined, and there’s enough plastic around the cockpit to remind you that the QX80 is closely related to the Nissan Armada.
The top-spec Sensory trim swaps in softer leather and more tasteful materials, but the upgrade costs more than $10,000. Once the price approaches $80,000, the QX80 suffers by comparison to modern rivals like the BMW X7.
As a result, we like it best in base form. It’s nice enough to satisfy most luxury tastes, and it’s a better value than either of the upper trims. All the same, the QX80’s closest competition may come from within the family – if you can get past the badge, a dressed-up Armada costs thousands less than the INFINITI.
Final thoughts. Fans of big cars will find plenty to like in the 2021 INFINITI QX80. The cabin is spacious, the engine is formidable, and the tech is good enough to keep up with the young guns.
All the same, the QX80’s age is showing. The interior could use an update, and fuel economy is abysmal. The base trim is decent value, but we recommend you check out the competition, too.
Check prices for the 2021 INFINITI QX80 »