words and photos by: Jimmy Mak,
While the average SUV like the Honda Pilot can carry the same if not more people in relative comfort, those car-based SUVs cannot compare with how the QX80 can manage to tow 8500lbs of fun. The QX80 is not new, and in fact, it’s quite dated. For 2018 it received a mild facelift with a nip, and a tuck here and there makes the big QX80 fit better within the Infiniti lineup.
Peel away the fancy skin. The QX80 is essentially a Nissan Patrol/Armada. Sharing the platform, motor and much more, there are little things that differentiate the QX80 from the rest. Looking from the outside there’s no mistake this is a large vehicle, standing over 6’3 tall, it dwarfs over most cars on the roads. With any large vehicle, there has to be some compromise namely fuel economy. Rated at 18L/100km in the city it’s pretty hard to close to that. In the city with stop and go it’s was much closer to 20L/100km, but on the highway, it was able to get it down to 11L/100km which is respectable considering it doesn’t have any of the fuel-saving technologies like cylinder deactivation.
Inside the QX80 is a blend of leather and wood, it’s surprisingly lovely here. Everything is soft, and the leather is quilted and plush. There’s no denying the interior is dated, emphasized by the center stack with the massive amount of buttons which adds a lot of visual clutter. The busy buttons help manage the vehicle’s infotainment system which is similar to the systems found in other Nissan Products. In desperate need of an update, the overall system feels dated. That said, it does work well enough to navigate and play audio with minimum fuss. While it doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, there is a Performance Meter that can found which can tell you the fuel flow and the amount of lateral Gs you’re experiencing.
For the driver, the instrument cluster lacks the pizazz found in its competitors with its single color screen to show fuel consumption and some other vehicle information like lane keep assist and cruise control.
The front and rear occupants are treated to very similar, big plush seats which closely resemble lazy boy recliners rather than more conventional in-car units. They provide occupants with enormous amounts of comfort for any duration trips. For the two up front, they are heated as well as cooled to provide ultimate comfort while the second row isn’t as lucky but still get heated seatbacks. But behind the first row, they do get access to Infiniti’s in-car entertainment system that shows DVD or an HDMI connection thru screens mounted on the front headrests. Audio can be transmitted to a pair of wireless headphones or through the in-car speakers.
For the 3rd row, passengers are a bit cramped. While there is plenty of headroom, knee and legroom are limited. The seat backs to fold back electronically to aid with space, but there’s no doubt it’s catered for shorter occupants. This could be helped if the middle seats can move forward, but sadly they are stuck with no adjustments. What is pleasant for all the passengers is the number of vents available, the QX80 efficiently cools the interior with large vents above the b-pillar which can be helped with enabling the remote start.
Behind the 3rd row, space is limited. There is underfloor storage which is suitable for a laptop or two but not much more. With the 3rd-row fold flat, the trunk space is enlarged, but since the 3rd row can’t fold completely flat, it doesn’t create the most considerable space. Lift-over height is also another area of concern, the QX80 larger than life rear bumper is about waist height for the average adult so lifting heavier items into the back can be a chore.
Driving the QX80 is surprisingly pleasant. For a big body on frame truck, it feels very planted. Likely due to the hydraulic suspension add-on, the car does have softer spring rates for better comfort and to reduce roll the suspension system automatically pumps hydraulic fluid into the corners when needed. Steering is light, and a bit vague but it does have a relatively tight turning radius so directing this big bruiser around isn’t all that difficult. Drive the big girl a bit more aggressively the 22″ wheels and tires start to complain that you’re a nut driving it the way you are. It’s not meant to be pushed, but it’s a bit hard not to. The engine under the hood makes a decent noise, the big 5.6L V8 producing 400hp and 413lb-ft of torque mated to a 7-speed auto and a transfer case. One of the few luxury SUVs with a low range box, but most owners of QX80 would never use the low-range or any other off-road gadgets the QX80 has.
With a price of $88,295 with the included Tech package of $8,900, it’s a bargain when comparing to other luxury SUVs on the market. But if you’re genuinely looking for a large budget SUV, the Nissan Armada provides 95% of what the QX80 does with an even lower price tag.
One of the most useful features that have been added to the big QX80 would be this digital rear-view mirror. There’s a Camera mounted high above the rear glass giving a much better and wider view out back.