The holiday road trip: A time where the family fills up the vehicle with presents and luggage to head out and enjoy time with relatives and friends. But for many, the trip becomes a miserable experience with kids arguing and getting into fights over the stupidest things, while the parents begin yelling at their kids to stop it or we’re pulling to the side of the road. Such was the case of many holiday trips I took as a child.
So this past Christmas, my parents asked if I would be willing to drive everyone up to Northern Michigan. I said yes and began to figure out which vehicle would be able to carry all our stuff, getting through the white Christmas, and keep the peace with everyone. So I decided to call in 2014 Infiniti QX80 as I thought it would be to fulfill those needs listed. Was it able to?
Let's get something out of the way with the 2014 Infiniti QX80, it’s a vehicle you cannot miss it. With a design that looks like it came out an amine and a abundance of chrome that can give the Cadillac Escalade a formidable challenge on bling-ness. But the overall design is a bit ungainly. Infiniti’s designers tried their best to fit the current design theme of the flowing curves onto this large vehicle and the results aren’t pretty. The addition of the silver paint on my tester didn’t help the design at all. I will say the design did grow on me during the week, but I think a black or a dark blue would help out immensely.
Moving inside, the QX80 story gets a bit better. The first thing about the interior is that it is cavernous. Front seat passengers get a set of plush leather seats with power adjustments and heat/cooling. The second row was outfitted with a pair of captain chairs with heat. Passengers sitting back here were very comfortable thanks to immense amount head and legroom. They were also impressed that the vehicle had the optional DVD system with screens in the back. There is a third row, but its best reserved for small kids as legroom is verging on non-existent. The third-row also highlights a big problem with the QX80: Cargo Space. If the third row is up, you only get a paltry 16.6 Cubic Feet. The Nissan Versa Note I had a week after had 2.2 cubic feet more space. A subcompact hatchback having more space than a full-size SUV; anyone else seeing a problem here? Thankfully, space does increase when you fold the third row.
As for interior appointments, the QX80 is top notch with real wood and aluminum trim, and padded surfaces throughout. Build quality is very impressive. Standard equipment was Infiniti’s infotainment system with navigation. The system is very easy to use thanks to understandable interface and a set of physical buttons to get you directly to different parts of the system. However the interface is starting to look a bit dated when compared to the competition. I hope Infiniti has something up their sleeve in the coming year or so.
For powertrain, ride, and final thoughts, see the next page.
Powering this massive beast is Infiniti’s 5.6L V8 engine with 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission is the only choice, but there is a choice between two-wheel and Infiniti’s All-Mode 4WD system. My tester came with the latter. This V8 engine had no problem of moving the QX80’s curb weight of 5,878 pounds. In fact, you didn’t think it weighed that much thanks to the engine’s low-end punch and the seven-speed delivering smooth and responsive shifts. I had to keep telling myself this is an SUV, not a muscle car. With all of that performance, you’ll pay dearly for gas. The EPA rates the 2014 QX80 4WD at 14 City/20 Highway/16 Combined. My average for the week was 15 MPG.
One other place where the QX80 shined was in the ride and handling department. The QX80 was a perfect choice as a long-distance cruiser (aside from the fuel economy). The fully independent suspension setup did an impressive job of making even some of the worst roads in Northern Michigan feel like nothing. This is impressive when you take into account the QX80 was fitted with the optional twenty-two inch wheels. Wind, road, and engine noise are kept to a whisper, something needed for a long-distance runner.
More surprising was how the QX80 handled. I was expecting the QX80 to handle like a boat in choppy waters; flopping all over the place. That was not the case in the QX80 as lean and body roll were kept to minimum. This is thanks to a optional Hydraulic Body Motion Control System which varies suspension travel to keep the vehicle level. I wished the same could be said for the steering which is light and somewhat numb on feel.
One other note I should mention on the QX80. For how big the QX80 is, it happens to be very agile. Even in some tight parking spots, the QX80 was able to get in without doing the whole pull in forward, then back up, and repeat dance.
After coming home from the holidays with the QX80, I would say it made the trip very painless. A comfortable ride, luxury goodies galore, and quietness made this a perfect vehicle to keep the peace and make everyone happy. If you've got the coin and are willing to live with that design, then Infiniti has an SUV for you.
Cheers: Able To Keep The Peace, Luxury Appointments, V8 Performance, Dual Personality of Suspension
Jeers: Drinks Gas Like Its Going Out Of Style, Cargo Space, Exterior Design, Dated Infotainment System
Disclaimer: Infiniti Provided the QX80, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Engine: 5.6L V8
Driveline: Seven-Speed Automatic Transmission, Four-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 400 @ 5,800
Torque @ RPM: 413 @ 4,000
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 14/20/16
Curb Weight: 5,878 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Yukuhashi, Japan
Base Price: $64,450.00
As Tested Price: $79,095.00 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
Deluxe Touring Package - $4,650.00
Technology Package - $3,250.00
Theater Package - $3,100.00
Wheel & Tire Package - $2,450.00
Cargo Mat, Net, & First Aid - $200.00