Test Drive column: 2021 Infiniti QX80 AWD
Entry price: $69,050
Price as tested: $87,035
This week, we’re driving Infiniti’s full-size luxury SUV, namely the 2021 Infiniti QX80 AWD. High on amenities and opulence, QX80 starts at $69,050 for the entry Luxe trim, then moves up to Premium Select at $73,350 and finally our tester’s upper-limit Sensory model at $80,200. Unquestionably high-end, this Infiniti rates right up there with its list of competitors, including Cadillac, Lexus, Lincoln, Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz.
Featuring high tech safety and an exceptional interior, there’s also a V8 with 400 horses and 413 lb. ft. of torque under the hood, necessary to move this near three-ton curb weight QX80.
Assembled in Los Angeles, our tester came with Infiniti’s “All Mode” AWD system that couples to a fuel efficient seven-speed automatic with adaptive shift control. The AWD system can be manually set to offer 4-High and 4-Low settings, or to simplify things just leave it in automatic mode allowing Infiniti’s computers to make all traction decisions. Additionally, when in automatic 4x4 mode the traction to the massive Bridgestone 22-inch tires on 14-spoke alloy wheels is distributed where needed most but never more to front tires than rear. This traction attribute is used to prevent what is called torque steer (less steer ability under full acceleration) or a “push” (turn but keeps going straight)during normal driving.
The aforementioned powerful 5.6-liter 32-valve DOHC V8 is not only very responsive, it delivers surprisingly good highway fuel mileage considering QX80’s mass. Infiniti’s freeway transmission gearing and seamless cylinder deactivation results in a 19 MPG highway EPA rating while on the flip side of the EPA rating is a lowly 13 MPG city. Still, it’s the highway fuel mileage that is important as this seven or eight passenger QX80 cruises at 65 mph with an RPM of just 1,500, which guarantees decent highway fuel mileage. For acceleration enthusiasts, zero to 60 mph is most impressive at 6.5 seconds or better, depending on passengers and cargo weight.
Infiniti’s QX80 suspension features a sturdy independent front and rear double wishbone setup with automatic load-leveling. If you need to tow a larger boat or travel trailer, all QX80s are delivered ready to tow with a 7-pin wiring harness and integrated Class IV hitch allowing up to 8,500-pound tow capacity. You can add a hitch with weight distribution ($370), hitch ball mount ($81) and a hitch ball ($24), all of which are installed at your dealer or you can purchase similar items at your area auto store or trailer camping center. A tow jumper sub harness ($36) hooks to your trailer brake controller and is recommended. Also notable are QX80s standard “snow and tow” modes to better control throttle response and transmission shift points.
If you tow near the maximum of 8,500 pounds (larger luxury boat, enclosed collector car, or midsize travel trailer), I highly recommend the weight distribution hitch purchase as it removes all of the trailer weight from QX80s rear axle and transfers the weight evenly across the frame of both the trailer and tow vehicle. If you’re towing a small row boat, it’s not necessary.
The Audio and Entertainment system all Sensory trims offer is top class. Instead of the 13-speaker Bose system that is standard on the Luxe, the Sensory model features a 17-speaker Bose performance audio system and the Infiniti Dual High-Definition Display system featuring navigation with maps and premium traffic info. Siri Eyes, Android and Apple compatibility, USBs, 12-volt outlets and Wi-Fi Hotspot is also standard fare. We cranked up the stereo numerous times listening to the SiriusXM Classic Vinyl station and were impressed with the great sound. An in-dash CD player with MP3 playback you ask? Yes, it still comes standard across the trim line and absent these days in many of the competitor models. Additionally, if you would rather have a second row split bench seat instead of the standard Captain chair buckets, it’s a no-cost change and gives you room for eight-passengers instead of seven.
One of the impressive standard features on our Sensory trim tester is Infiniti’s excellent safety control offerings. Included are automatic collision notification (which is then relayed to emergency responders), emergency call, high beam assist, backup collision intervention, blind spot warning and intervention, intelligent brake assist with forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, predictive forward collision warning, lane departure warning and prevention, distance control, hill start assist, all around view monitor with moving object detection, and front pre-crash seat belts. Your Infiniti dealer will explain in detail these safety features.
Another standard feature notable is a Hydraulic Body Motion Control System that self levels the suspension and assists QX80 in distributing weight and preventing lean in the corners. Specifically, a hydraulic circuit unites the four independent suspension components via hydraulic pressure, actuating as necessary while QX80 is in motion.
Other notables on the standard fare list include climate controlled front seats, leather seating throughout three rows, power moonroof, stitched leather heated steering wheel, heated second row seats, third row reclining seats, roof rails, power tailgate, second-row pop-up seat for easy third row access, and much more.
A second row dual screen entertainment system also comes standard on the Sensory and adds dual 8-inch monitors mounted into the back of the front seat headrests. You’ll receive two wireless headphones, wireless remote control, auxiliary jacks with HDMI input and a 120V outlet for entertainment equipment.
I was able to give the QX80 a good run on the freeway and secondary roads and considering its size and “no lean” body control, QX80 is a competent handler on all types of roadway.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 121.1 inches, 5,813 pound curb weight, 26 gallon fuel tank, 41.3 ft. turning diameter, and from 16.6 to 95.1 cu. ft. of cargo space depending on seat arrangement.
There were a few options on our tester, including illuminated kick plates for $485; a cargo package with mats and net for $295; exterior welcome lighting for $455; and recommended premium paint for $695. With $1,395 delivery the final retail came in at $87,035. Check with your Infiniti dealer for incentives or perhaps a similar 2020 leftover at reduced prices.
In summary, Infiniti still builds one of the very best full size luxury SUVs out there so make sure you give it a look if shopping this segment.
Likes: Highway fuel mileage, looks outside and inside, safety.
Dislikes: Some driver blind spots, boxy design dated, big Sensory price.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at email@example.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.