New isn’t always better — especially when it costs more.
Infiniti’s QX80 costs thousands less than its newer-design rivals, models like the Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LX 600 and Lincoln Navigator.
But you don’t get less — except where it matters.
And in a number of important ways, you end up with more.
What It Is
The QX80 is Infiniti’s full-size, three-row SUV, similar in general layout to others in the full-size luxury SUV class.
The main difference between the QX80 and its luxury-branded competitors is it’s a much older design, dating back all the way to the 2011 model year. That’s also one reason why it still comes standard with a big V8 engine rather than a small, turbocharged V6 (as in the Navigator and LX 600).
The Cadillac Escalade still has a standard V8 — but it also comes standard with a $79,295 base price.
As opposed to $72,700 for the QX80 Luxe.
A top-of-the-line QX80 Sensory with four-wheel drive, a 17-speaker premium audio system, rear-seat entertainment screens and Infiniti’s Hydraulic Body Motion Control stickers for $87,540.
What’s New For 2023
Very little, and not since 2011 — which is very good if you prefer your next new vehicle to be like the way they used to make ’em.
Rugged V8 is standard and uses only a bit more gas than smaller V6s with turbos, as in the Navigator and LX 600.
It still has gauges, which sets it apart from the LCD flat screens in everything else.
Tows more than most and almost as much as the ones that tow just slightly more.
What’s Not So Good
A little less room for cargo behind the third row than others in the class.
Rival Escalade’s standard V8 is bigger and stronger.
You may not have much time left to get one. An “all-new” QX is expected to arrive this fall.
Under The Hood
The QX comes standard with a 5.6-liter, 400-horsepower V8, regardless of trim. It’s paired with a seven-speed automatic that features rev-matching downshifts (as in the Nissan Z sports car) and rear- or four-wheel drive.
The standard 8,500-pound towing capacity is one of the highest in the class, bested only slightly by the Lincoln Navigator’s 8,700-pound standard towing capacity. The Nav’s standard 3.5-liter V6 also makes more standard horsepower (440) but doesn’t use appreciably less gas. It rates 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway vs. 14 mpg city, 20 mpg highway for the Q.
The Cadillac Escalade comes standard with the biggest V8 in the class — 6.2 liters and 420 horsepower. It does not need a turbo to make that power, either. But it does need a lot of gas: 14 city, 19 highway. And the Caddy’s base price ($79,295) is also about $7,000 higher than the Q’s.
Interestingly, it doesn’t pull as much. The Caddy’s standard max tow rating — 7,700 pounds — is 1,000 pounds less than the Q’s.
On The Road
You may have read that Nissan-Infiniti vehicles aren’t selling that well. And it’s true — with the exception of the Q. And that’s very interesting, given how old it is.
Yet people still want them.
Well, because they aren’t new in terms of certain features that have become standard in newer-design vehicles. The big V8 that’s standard is a draw, obviously. People who like big SUVs like big V8s.
And what about not being parented?
Here is where the Q stands out from otherwise similar rivals like the Escalade and Navigator, which, being newer designs, have pushier “driver assistance technologies,” most of which you can’t opt out of or even disable.
The Q, being older, has fewer — and they are less parenting.
But it’s the sound of that big V8 that is the centerpiece of the appeal of the Q. That and the body-on-frame feel of this thing, which feels a lot like the land yacht American sedans Americans used to commonly drive.
And that probably accounts for why the Q, though “old,” still sells.
At The Curb
The Q is a big rig, no doubt. But — you might be surprised — it’s not as big as the land yachts of the ’70s it emulates. At 210.2 inches long, it’s actually about a foot shorter end to end than a circa 1973 Buick Electra 225, which was named that because it stretched 225 inches end to end.
Much of that being hood and trunk.
It looked impressive, but it wasn’t nearly as practical as the shorter but much roomier Q. It seats up to eight people in three rows and it has 95.1 cubic feet of space with the second and third rows folded. With the second and third row in use, you’ve still got 16.6 cubic feet of “trunk” space to use — about the same as you’d have available in a current full-size sedan such as a Mercedes S or BMW 7.
The Navigator and Escalade have even more space (19.3 and 25.5 cubic feet, respectively) behind their third rows and more total space with their second and third rows folded (103.3 and 121 cubic feet, respectively), but if you don’t need the additional space, you can avoid paying thousands more for it.
The QX80 is a bargain relative to its rivals.
It comes standard with a self-leveling suspension, heated leather seats and steering wheel, three-zone climate control and a very good 12-speaker Bose premium audio system — for about $5,000 less to start than its primary rivals.
Also standard is three years’ worth of free routine service, including tire rotations and oil/filter changes.
The Bottom Line
Old is only bad when new isn’t necessarily better.
Eric’s latest book, “Doomed: Good Cars Gone Wrong!” will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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