Ride and Handling
Awkward looks or no, there’s no questioning that the QX80 sits on a fantastically sorted chassis.
Alhough based on the venerable Nissan Patrol SUV we’ve never seen here and has a frame mounted atop the chassis, it just doesn’t belie those roots like the other two do.
It starts with the handling, perhaps best manifested in the fact that you can undertake maneuvers in tight places – a parking garage below your downtown condo penthouse, for example – that you really shouldn’t be able to pull off in a three-row, two-ton-plus SUV. It never ceased to amaze me how I’d just choose a parking stall, make a quick turn of the wheel and end up almost dead-centre, every time. A testament to my parking skills? Perhaps. But the fact that it’s almost as easy to place the enormous QX80 as it is some mid-size SUVs is a big plus.
The QX80 doesn’t have the softest ride here, though. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not harsh by any means but it is a little firmer than what’s offered by the Navigator.
The Lincoln offers a fantastically smooth ride; you really do get that feeling that you’re hovering above the road surface a little, as if there’s some form of air suspension, which there isn’t. Nope, just a set of independent coilovers with a stabilizer bar, but it’s tuned for softness, that’s for sure.
Which is both a blessing and a curse. That “hovering” feeling, while comfortable on the straight and narrow, can be a little disconcerting once you start to turn or even switch lanes. There’s a distinct disconnectedness here; I could forgive it if it was only something you felt whilst pushing the Navi to levels that few likely ever will. However, we took some time on a relatively relaxed highway drive and still, it just wasn’t harmonious. It’s a sensation made worse in the wet, and we found ourselves in some pretty heavy downpour conditions.
Having said that, it was actually the Escalade that caused the most pause in the wet; it has the widest tires of the trio, and we found ourselves hydroplaning ever-so-slightly on two or three occasions. The Escalade’s ride is improved from the previous generation, you’ll still encounter some bounciness over repeated undulations that just shouldn’t be present at this level of luxury. It’s only a real problem at speed, though; around town, the Escalade is fine, and it’s hard not to like that fantastic V8 burble you get through those dual tailpipes.