Large and in Charge | 2015 Infiniti QX80

September 2014 View more

Photos courtesy of © Copyright 2014 Infiniti

Photos courtesy of © Copyright 2014 Infiniti

By rights, big Sports utility vehicles should not be around anymore. They use up a lot of gas, they take up a lot of room, and they’re hard to park. Hybrids, electric cars, and common sense should have sent SUVs to extinction years ago.

And yet, look around. If you have a family and you want a large luxury car, a full-size SUV is often the way to go. Even more so if you’re trying to survive another polar vortex in Naperville and want the confidence that comes with all-wheel drive, big tires, and gaping ground clearance. Oh, and extra points to anyone who wants to tow a boat or trailer.

Toss in the fact that engine technology and attention to the latest fuel-saving techniques are even incrementally improving the hulks’ fuel economy, and it’s really no surprise that big SUVs are thriving.

2014 Infiniti QX80Into that milieu rolls the refreshed 2015 Infiniti QX80. This is Infiniti style writ large—a luxurious land yacht. The side doors are huge flat slabs, the belt line is positively Himalayan, and the hood goes on forever. The QX80 is a master class in visual perception. It is only a few inches longer and wider than other family-sized vehicles, but from the passengers’ perches it feels enormous and invincible. Credit goes to the high roof, high ride height, and hood lines that stretch to the horizon.

Thanks to soft, easy, and precise steering, driving the QX80 is a relaxing pleasure. Parking is actually quite easy, thanks to the birds-eye view cameras, a feature pioneered by Infiniti many years ago and still just as cool and effective today. Who needs actual sight lines when 360 degrees of collective camera angles are letting you know exactly how close you’re getting to neighboring cars?

All that exterior bulk wrapped in one of the most distinctive big-SUV bodies on the market translates into enormous interior space with seven or eight seats. You can choose a bench seat or captain seats for the middle row. If you can’t get comfortable in the QX80, something is wrong. Big leather seats, plenty of legroom, and lots of buttons, that’s exactly what luxury cars buyers are after.

And because this is a luxury car, there are electric motors to do things that require manual labor on other vehicles. The power rear liftgate is a given. But power folding seats also ameliorate the two most onerous aspects of three-row vehicles: either getting to the third row, or stowing those seats when it’s time to load big cargo.

2015 Infiniti QX80The QX80 comes with rear- or all-wheel drive and a truck-like body-on-frame structure that seems totally at odds with the soft ride and quiet cabin. The QX80’s brisk acceleration is also something of a marvel, given its size. But then again, 5.6 liters and 400 horsepower will do that for you.

If Infiniti’s big hauler has one shortcoming, it is the rather low fuel economy on the window sticker. Size and performance are not free, and 14 miles per gallon in city driving is the price you’ll pay at the pump.

Pricing for the 2015 Infiniti QX80 was not confirmed in time for publication, but expect it to hew closely to the 2014 sticker price of $62,700 for rear-wheel drive, or $65,800 for all-wheel drive. Thankfully, for those whose wrists get tired from making too many check marks on option lists, the QX80 comes pretty much loaded, with only a few packages left to select. An extra $3,250 will buy you the Technology Package (an advisable add-on), and $4,650 more will add the Deluxe Touring Package.