Mountain Wheels: Enormous Infiniti QX80 takes luxury to a new level
Special to the Daily
2015 Infiniti QX80 AWD
MSRP: $66,350; as tested, $80,285
Powertrain: 400-HP 5.6-liter V8, seven-speed automatic transmission
EPA figures: 16 mpg combined (14 city, 20 highway)
For super largesse on a scale typically reserved for Saudi royalty, the super-gigantic and top-of-the line Infiniti QX80 is so massive that even its name got bigger, part of the Nissan premium brand’s somewhat challenging renaming of its models.
In this case, it’s easy — the QX was always the biggest bruiser of the bunch, and now it’s available with the kind of finery (from the factory) that you used to only see on those pimp-my-ride shows: 22-inch wheels, burl wood trim, gobs of chrome and yards of leather.
What has not changed is the somewhat recent arrangement of 400 hell-breathing horses under the hood, cranked out of a 5.6-liter V8 that’s most likely to get you about 16 mpg in regular use — the 20 mpg figure on the sticker might happen if mountains and high-speed freeway careening are not part of your daily travels.
And while the 5,888-pound AWD version of the QX80 — over 208 inches long, with a 22-inch-high step just to get into the beast — does seem like a whole lot of car, park it next to a new Yukon XL or beside a Ford F350 with a lift kit, and you’ll see that it isn’t the biggest SUV in the world. Close, however.
The charming part about all of the opulence blended in this very impressive ride is that the QX is still very capable of the most gnarly of off-road activities or wading through the deepest of snow and the iciest of slopes. There’s more than 9 inches of clearance — those optional 22-inch wheels don’t hurt, either (except when you have to go buy tires) — and the All-Mode AWD system allows you to maximize all of that traction. Curiously, the two-wheel-drive version of the QX is no more fuel efficient than the 4×4; tough luck to those Texans and Californians who opt for the less capable variation.
It’s surprisingly easy to adapt to as a daily driver, with exception of parking garages and the occasional overly thin driving lane — such as those on Denver’s multilane avenues, where you really will be taking up a lot of space.
Power is explosive off the line, with 413 foot-pounds of torque; the gearing of the seven-speed automatic discourages the same sort of catastrophic acceleration while driving along, though a firm foot on the gas pedal will cause it to kick down a few gears and fly like a nuclear-powered Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Just be sorta careful while taking corners at higher than highway speed, as there is a whole lot of car here.
And don’t fret about the QX80’s size making it feel like a sea-going vessel; despite the presence of sonar, portholes along the body panels and anchoring points — an optional hydraulic body motion control system does its very best to make the vehicle seem like nothing more than what used to be called an Infiniti FX37, the company’s smaller crossover. Now called the QX70, for ease of something or other.
The vehicle’s ginormous stance does present a few issues, namely that it is indeed a bit of a hike to get inside, even with low-profile running boards.
For instance, during a trip to Beaver Creek last weekend, my desire to perch anywhere to put on ski boots was frustrated by the giant height of the rear cargo deck and the huge height of the seats — I was going to look like a ventriloquist’s dummy, my legs dangling about 3 feet off the ground, so that didn’t quite work.
QX has got full-sized third-row seating that folds flat, with the gigantic second-row seats popping and locking forward for relatively easy access. There’s nearly 40 inches of head room in the first and second rows (and a little more than 36 in the final row) and more than 167 cubic feet of total passenger and cargo room.
Every seating surface is leather, and if you go large — as was the case with my deluxe technology-package-equipped test vehicle — you get semi-aniline leather seating that’s so intoxicatingly leathery you may get a headache from the aroma.
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