Review and photos by Paul Williams

Newport Beach, California – According to Infiniti Canada, the 2014 Infiniti QX80 (most recently known as the QX56), “offers an unmatched combination of power, strength and luxury style – capable of transporting up to eight adults and their belongings with spacious elegance.”

2014 Infiniti QX80
2014 Infiniti QX80
2014 Infiniti QX80. Click image to enlarge

Ah, to be a press kit writer!

But this is indeed Infiniti’s biggest and most luxurious SUV, and a formidable vehicle it certainly is. I drove an eight-passenger version (they come with seating for seven or eight) at the recent Nissan 360 event in Newport Beach, California, where all current Nissan and Infiniti vehicles were available for testing and examination.

Fact is, we don’t buy many vehicles of this type in Canada. Infiniti sells about 360 a year here, although sales are up 17 percent so far in 2013. Still, it’s not a large and popular segment as it is in the US, but if you want to ride in luxury, bring the whole family (and a few in-laws), and haul a big boat or trailer, vehicles like the Infiniti QX80 will be on your shortlist.

What does the “QX80” represent in this vehicle’s name? Well, using Infiniti’s new nomenclature, QX means it’s an SUV and the 80 makes it bigger than the QX70. It’s nothing to do with the engine size.

Speaking of which, under the hood you’ll find a brawny 5.6L V8 engine that makes 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. There’s a seven-speed automatic transmission, independent front and rear suspension with twin-tube shock absorbers, stabilizer bars and a rear self-leveling system (air) and available Hydraulic Body Motion Control System. The QX80 tows 3,855 kg (8,500 lb).

While the previous-generation QX56 initially shared its platform with the Nissan Armada and Titan pickup truck, the QX80 (like the QX56 models from 2011-on) is built on a different platform that’s shared with the Nissan Patrol (sold in markets other than the US and Canada). It’s still a body-on-frame structure, however.

Pricing is unchanged for the 2014 model. The QX80 seven-passenger is $73,200 plus $1,995 freight. A Technology Package that now includes a Backup Collision Intervention System and Infiniti Connection Telematics adds $8,150. The eight-passenger version is the same price. Remote engine start is now a standard feature.

Approaching the QX80 you are struck by its sheer bulk. Its standard 20-inch and optional 22-inch wheels don’t look big at all but, glowing press-kit language notwithstanding, this is not a pretty truck.

2014 Infiniti QX802014 Infiniti QX80
2014 Infiniti QX80. Click image to enlarge

Its grille and headlights seem oddly positioned; the headlights appearing too low as they flank the tall grille and even taller hood. It’s like the front end has been inflated from within; the chrome-clad vents at the side harkening to what? Vintage cars? Buicks?

So yes, it has attitude, but it’s one that seems pushy and self-satisfied rather than clever and sleek.

That said, when you open the door the QX80 surprises with a beautifully rendered, traditionally luxurious interior. It’s all natural wood, chrome accents, smart leather and bound carpet that looks almost handcrafted. I was recently in a Bentley that costs almost four times the price of this QX80, and as spectacular as that was, the Infiniti people have created an interior ambiance in the same style for a quarter of the price. They’ve certainly taken a page out of the right book here.

2014 Infiniti QX802014 Infiniti QX802014 Infiniti QX80
2014 Infiniti QX80. Click image to enlarge

So the QX80’s brash exterior is tempered by a calmer, more tasteful interior. That calmness continues when you start the engine, which in classic, well-muffled and insulated V8 fashion, hums deeply, soothingly and almost imperceptibly in the background. Once underway, the engine note doesn’t assert itself until you accelerate rapidly and then the QX80 seems to leap into action, belying its mass and bulk, reaching 100 km/h from a standstill in only about seven seconds. Otherwise, it just floats serenely along.

Connect with