Sunday Drive: Infiniti QX80 flagship is perfect for all your senses
It is always a unique opportunity to drive the flagship model of any of the luxury automakers, and having it two weeks in a row was an even greater treat. We recently spent a week out in the Lexus LX600, and the following week we had an extended opportunity to drive the Infiniti QX80.
The Infiniti QX80 is by far the largest luxury SUV this automaker has to offer, and the Sensory trim is at the top of the line when it comes to added amenities. We found it to be a great vehicle for hauling folks around as we spent a night out on the town with our daughter Sadie and her husband, Gavin.
On a Saturday night, we picked them up and headed to a restaurant for dinner and then a concert at the Covey Center in Provo. The QX80 is the ultimate people hauler; Sadie and Gavin were provided with all the room imaginable as they enjoyed the two rear captain’s chairs. Both of these seats were heated and very comfy on a rainy November evening.
Infiniti has done it right with the QX80. It proved to be a smooth and quiet ride, allowing for great conversation among us in the cabin. With the included dual-screen entertainment system, the rear-seat passengers could have enjoyed a movie. The trip would have been even more perfect if we had included some of the grandkids in the rearmost seat.
In 2018, the QX80 went through a midcycle refresh, and in 2021, Infiniti chose to change the trim level names for its flagship SUV. The 2023 version is offered in three models: the QX80 Luxe, the QX80 Premium Select and the QX80 Sensory at the top of the line.
Over the years, we have been drawn to the sleek and refined look of all the SUV models in the Infiniti line as the company has shied away from using sharper angles on the exterior of its vehicles. Instead, it has opted for a more rounded and, quite frankly, sophisticated and upscale look. We have always loved that Nissan — Infiniti’s parent company — is willing to take chances on design and then make minor tweaks if things didn’t work out quite as planned.
For the QX80, the design works and draws buyers away from other models to this very large luxury SUV. It’s only being outsold in the marketplace by the Cadillac Escalade, which features a much boxier look. Having driven all three of the large luxury SUVs this past year (the QX80, the Escalade and the Lexus LX600), we would opt for the Infiniti, with our decision coming down to its unique looks and design.
The Sensory Edition that landed in our driveway was loaded with many bells and whistles, including the new 12.3-inch touch screen that’s positioned front and center in all QX80 models. It is a strong departure from the dual-screen setup that Infiniti has offered in the past. For us, larger is always better when it comes to viewing infotainment controls and navigation maps.
This new screen sports a high-definition contrast and comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and a wireless charging station. This makes for a more sophisticated and easier-to-use system and allows for wireless texting and communication with many of the functions on our phones.
The interior of the QX80 can be compared to a luxury jet liner as the front two rows featured leather captain’s chairs. This arrangement limits seating in the QX80 to seven.
Up front, the luxury seemed to go on and on with heated and quilted seating, a heated steering wheel and three-zone climate control. Also included was a 17-speaker Bose 5.1 surround sound system that made whatever we played come out in true high fidelity.
The steering wheel was also power adjustable. Again, it’s the little extras that make a big difference in the luxury world.
On the safety side, the QX80 came with everything we would have expected, including lane departure warning and prevention, blind spot monitoring with intervention, rear cross path detection and intervention, forward collision warning and intervention, and trailer sway control. There was also a very nice adaptive cruise control system and automatic high beams.
One needs to remember that the QX80 is a very large SUV and comes with a larger stance and larger motor: a 5.6-liter V-8 that produces a very nice 400 horsepower and 413 foot-pounds of torque. EPA estimates put the large Infiniti at 15 mpg combined; we managed an even better 18 mpg during our week of driving that included some heavy highway miles along with everyday around-town driving.
Included this year is what Infiniti calls its enhanced Smart Rear View Mirror, which basically turns the mirror into an LED screen showing the rear view from a camera mounted on the QX80. It is a cool system; it takes a while to become accustomed to it, but with an SUV full of riders, it definitely gives a much better view of what’s behind the vehicle.
On the towing side, the QX80 comes standard with a package that allows you to pull all your toys and/or camping trailers around. With a capacity of 8,500 pounds, the QX80 should prove more than adequate for most any family.
The new 2022 QX80 made for a great family hauler or just a way to take your friends out. It would be the perfect match for those who want to make the journey in complete comfort while also having the option of experiencing an off-road adventure.
Base price: $87,450
Destination charge: $1,695
Price as driven: $90,885