2016 Infiniti QX80 Limited

A DriveWays Review...

2016 Infiniti QX80
Photo (c) Infiniti

Except for the missing machine gun mounts, you might easily mistake the 2016 Infiniti QX80 Limited for a luxurious weapons carrier somewhere in North Africa.

This is one formidable sport utility vehicle, which is little more than a muscular pickup truck without the truck trappings. It is part of a cadre of full-size SUVs with truck underpinnings like the Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LX, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Lincoln Navigator, Ford Expedition and Toyota Land Cruiser.       

Some of these are marketed as giant luxury vehicles, though in truth you can equip a Chevy Suburban with enough designer stuff to satisfy any Escalade wannabe (though most probably would prefer to tell their clueless friends that they are driving a Cadillac and not a Chevrolet. The vehicles are essentially the same).

That’s true of the Infiniti QX80 as well. It is a fraternal twin of the Nissan Armada, also a big, three-row SUV built like a pickup with the body on frame construction.

Despite their high prices, dismal fuel economy and sometimes clumsy handling, these vehicles occupy a cherished place in the automotive universe for a select group, including those with more than a few bucks in the bank who have a large boat or house trailer to tow.

The QX80 is one of those. It has a towing capability of 8,500 pounds along with a four-wheel drive system that has both low and high ranges, which would indicate substantial off-road capability.

It would, except for the fact that the tested Limited model came with beautiful 22-inch alloy wheels shod with low profile performance tires more suited to chasing sports sedans around curving mountain roads.

That leads to the conclusion that the designers and marketers for Infiniti were angled more toward Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles than an off-road course in Montana. That’s not unusual. There is any number of capable off-road luxury SUVs, especially from Britain’s Land Rover, that likely will never sully their tires with nasty mud or rocks.

The QX80 fits the plush profile. Its interior, as expressed by the tested Limited model, is awash in soft mocha leather and wood trim that looks as if it could have been produced by hand in a colonial craftsman’s shop in Williamsburg, Va. There’s none of that European wood that is so massaged and polished that it looks like plastic.

It comes with third-row seats that, with the touch of a couple of switches, fold easily into the floor for extra cargo, though unaccountably they do not fold flat. Cargo will slide to the rear.

Used for seating they are reasonably accommodating, as long as the three people there are teenagers or skinny, less than average size adults. To their credit, however, the designers designed the second-row seats to easily flip forward out of the way so that even creaky older adults can climb back there.

But it’s a good thing that the QX80 comes with built-in running boards because the step up to the floor from the pavement is right on two feet. Without the running board, some patriarchal passengers might wave goodbye at the curb.

The QX80 also is nearly 6.5 feet tall, so you have to reconnoiter parking garages to determine whether the roof rails will whack something overhead.

That’s part of the QX80s size, which we have established as formidable. It’s not anything you can’t get used to—there is any number of 98-pound young humans tooling around in full-size pickup trucks like Ford F-150s, Nissan Titans, and Dodge Rams.

Of course, that’s if you are of the leisurely persuasion. You don’t drive vehicles like this if you are infatuated with cars like the Jaguar F-Type or BMW M3 and M4. The QX80 and its cozy affinity group are more sloth moving and relaxed, as they must be given physics. This QX80 checks in at more than three tons so it’s not the sort of vehicle that you fling around curves.

Still, it has its purpose. There’s a powerful 400 hp V8—yes, V8—engine that delivers 418 lb-ft of torque, which never feels challenged. Never mind the 15 mpg overall fuel economy rating. If you can afford the tested sticker of $89,845, you can handle the gasoline price.

In 2015, the QX80 trailed the Escalade and some other luxury truck-based SUVs but managed to beat the Lincoln Navigator and Toyota Sequoia in sales. It has its place, all a matter of taste.


  • Model: 2016 Infiniti QX80 Limited four-door sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: 5.6-liter V8, 400 hp, 413 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Seven-speed automatic with manual shift mode; four-wheel drive, high and low range
  • Overall length: 17 feet 5 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 151/17 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 6,045 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 8,500 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 13/19/15 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $89,845.
  • Price as tested: $89,845.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.