New Infiniti crossover doesn’t quite meet the safety mark
Infiniti is all in for the crossover and sport-utility market, with only two sedans and no sport wagons or minivans. Two crossovers and a full-blown SUV, the gargantuan QX80, fill out offerings by Nissan’s premium brand.
The QX80’s construction is body-on-frame, so it can perform duties that are beyond the capabilities of the typical crossover. With 9.2 inches of ground clearance, high and low 4-wheel-drive settings, and settings for snow and tow modes, it’s no slouch off-road. It also can accommodate six or seven passengers, depending on the configuration of the second-row seats, and tow a whopping 8,500 pounds — for example, a 28-foot travel trailer, four horses, or even a cabin cruiser.
Infiniti offers two crossover models that deliver more car-like handling and much better fuel economy than the QX80, and they cost less, but they lack the brawn — if not the luxury — of the flagship. The compact QX50 and midsize QX60 crossovers are base-priced at $37,250 and 44,350, respectively.
With a sticker price of $93,200, our test car had just one option — $355 for all-season floor mats and cargo area protector. It was powered by a 5.6-liter, 400-horsepower V-8 engine. Everything about this car is big, except its fuel-economy numbers: 13 mpg city, 19 highway. We averaged a little better than 15 mpg.
It may come as a surprise to some, but there aren’t many premium body-on-frame SUVs available. The crossover, it seems, is king. Among the true full-sized SUVs are the Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon and Lexus GX. Models like the Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Tahoe and Nissan Armada are not considered premium, but can be dressed up with optional equipment.
The QX80’s more likable qualities included its ample head room in all three rows, its luxury accommodations, and its tolerable handling and ride. Before buying, it’s a good idea to test-drive a QX80 with the standard 20-inch wheels and the 22-inch wheels that came with our Limited version. QX80s with the smaller wheels likely will corner better and ride more comfortably, and cost less.
We also liked the double information screens. The top screen displays a map, adjustable with a dial between the front seats, and navigation details. The bottom screen shows infotainment features, including radio, weather, traffic, stocks and more.
2020 Infiniti QX80 Limited 4WD
Engine: 5.6-liter V-8, 400 horsepower, 413 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 7-speed shiftable automatic with adaptive shift control
Drive: all-wheel (high and low settings), with snow and tow settings
Ground clearance: 9.2 in.
Weight: 5,926 lb.
Suspension: independent double-wishbone, front and rear
Wheels: 22-in. forged aluminum alloy
Tires: P275/50R22 H-rated all-season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 16.6 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 95.1 cu. ft.
Towing capacity: 8,500 lb.
Fuel capacity: 26 gal.
Fuel economy: 13 mpg city, 19 mpg highway
Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline (recommended)
The base QX80 Luxe, with rear-wheel drive, starts at $66,750, while the Luxe with all-wheel drive is priced at $3,100 more.
As for luxury, the QX80 Limited has it all. It’s no exaggeration to conclude Infiniti thought of almost everything. The only feature missing was a panoramic sunroof.
One weak spot, however, is — unexpectedly — crash protection. In government tests, the QX80 received only two stars for protecting the driver in a front-end collision, and three stars for the front passenger. But the QX80 fared well in side-impact tests, with 5-star ratings.
The QX80 saw a slight decrease in sales for 2019, with 19,113.
Steven Macoy (email@example.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel.