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2014 Infiniti QX80 Introduction

Now in its fourth year of the current generation, the Infiniti QX80 is big, wide and round. Therefore, it rides among the grandiose group of seven-seat luxury SUVs with hefty towing capacities: Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Lexus LX 570, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, Audi Q7, Volkswagen Touareg, and Range Rover.

For 2014, the biggest vehicle from Nissan's luxury division also has a revised model designation, in keeping with the company's new, numerically sequenced lineup. Little has changed beneath the badge, but what was previously the QX56 is now called the QX80. Needless to say, the 80 suffix denotes the largest model in the QX series, which also includes the QX50, QX60, and QX70. Among the few actual changes for 2014, a Backup Collision Intervention system has been added to the optional Technology Package.

The 2014 Infiniti QX80 comes with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive with a five-mode system. Each QX80 uses a powerful 5.6-liter, 32-valve, double-overhead-cam V8 engine with direct fuel injection and variable valve timing and lift, making 400 horsepower and a hefty 413 pound-feet of torque.

The 7-speed double-overdrive transmission enables good acceleration from the 5600-pound vehicle, and can deliver 17 mpg fuel mileage at easy freeway speed, though it's a lot less thrifty around town or at speeds over 70 mph. Even with that many gears, the transmission is a joy to behold: smooth, like it's not even there. The transmission has Adaptive Shift Control, matching a driver's style, and a manual shift mode that provides a sportscar-like downshift blip. Infiniti calls it Downshift Rev Matching. That's something you don't find on every giant SUV.

The all-wheel-drive QX80 has a five-mode dial on the center console: automatic, four-wheel-drive high, four-wheel-drive low, low lock, tow mode and snow mode. Automatic mode transfers engine torque between the front and rear axles, from 0 front/100 rear, all the way to 50/50.

If the QX80 were to be described in a word, it would have to be “big.” The QX80 seats seven with second-row captain's chairs, or eight with a three-seat bench in the second row. Between the captain's chairs there's a gigantic console with two storage bins and two cupholders. Step-in height is greater than 22 inches, to either the front seat or the second row. Running boards can definitely help ease the entry process.

The 60/40 third-row seat folds flat, by pushing a power button located in the cargo space. Back in the third row, riders get good headroom and relatively good legroom, and the seats recline 20 degrees. There's a modest 16.6 cubic feet of cargo space with the third row up, close to 50 cubic feet with the third-row seat folded, growing to a whopping 95.1 cubic feet with both rows down.

The QX80's ride is firm but comfortable, with solid handling assisted by sophisticated electronics. In our test-drives, Infiniti's big SUV felt secure even on icy highways.

The burly V8 is a satisfying engine, producing 413 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. At lower rpm, there's strong torque, too. But it takes a lot of premium fuel for the engine to push this three-ton SUV down the highway. The QX80 is EPA-estimated at 14/20 mpg City/Highway.

Standard features include an Around View Monitor with moving object detection, and Bose 13-speaker premium audio. An available Bose Cabin Surround sound system has digital 5.1 decoding and 15 speakers. The optional Theater Package has dual 7–inch color monitors, which allow different sources to play at the same time. When properly equipped, a QX80 can tow 8,500 pounds.

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