Years ago, I loaded the family into the first generation of Infiniti‘s mega-sized luxury SUV, then known as the QX56. We were headed for Pocono International Raceway, where the annual International Motor Press Association Test Days event was taking place. More importantly for the kids, the final destination was the newly opened Great Wolf Lodge.
We loaded that bad boy full of the assorted flotsam that accompanies a family of five on a week long road trip, no doubt adding to the truck’s overall weight substantially. Normally, I wouldn’t consider extra load to be much of an issue with a vehicle with an already sizable heft but I realized a weak point in the vehicles chassis as soon as we encountered the Appalachian mountains. Naturally, the climb was of no concern, but what goes up, must come down and we first discovered how woefully under-braked the truck was when slowing for an exit ramp on a long and steep downhill with a 75 mph speed limit. The pedal faded so badly that I almost overshot the ramp and nearly made a mess of the leather seats.
So what does a tale about a 10 year old predecessor have to do with a modern vehicle? Nothing really, except that we recently spent a week with a 2017 Infiniti QX80 and made a point of putting it to work. To write a review saying that the QX80 is huge, gorgeous and luxurious would be an insult to readers’ intelligence. One does not need to be told these things, one just needs to open their eyes. Some QX80 buyers however will actually want to make use of the big truck’s utility aspect, so we thought we would see how it likes to work.
As beautiful as the exterior shape is, Infiniti has elevated the interior of the QX80 to a true world class contender. Quilted leather abounds, with real wood and metal accents for good measure. It goes without saying that the seating is comfortable and just about every modern convenience one can think of is built in.
Fold down all the seats and one is presented with a gargantuan cargo area. One might even compare it to the mighty Hercules cargo plane except for one nagging issue: The seats do not fold flat. In fact, they are tilted upwards like a ramp. So much so that cargo needs to be loaded into the flat rear area first to prevent smooth bottomed items loaded into the front from sliding aft when loading. Even still, when loaded carefully the QX80 swallows a prodigious amount of stuff.
Remembering that the QX80 is a proper truck, it is no surprise that there isn’t even a tiny bit of sag in the suspension when the cargo area is heavily loaded with cases of pop, water, full coolers and other stuff needed for BBQ events.
Hidden behind the rear bumper fascia is a seriously heavy duty looking trailer hitch, which is easily revealed with the twist of two plastic trim buttons. Utility hidden by beauty. Our small BBQ event trailer was dwarfed by the luxo-truck, which towed the kitchen on wheels without complaint. Again, the added tongue weight on top of the full cargo area elicits no droop of the rear suspension.
Thinking back to my opening bit about the QX56, it is important to note that the QX80 did not exhibit a single sign that we were putting it to work, even when fully loaded, with a loaded trailer attached. It just soldiered on, keeping its occupants comfortable and the driver confident.
At a tick under ninety five grand for the Canadian market, the QX80 isn’t for everybody. If the only off-roading you will ever do however is making a spring visit to the gravel parking lot at the Muskoka Store, then the big Infiniti makes for a more stylish alternative to say, a Range Rover. The QX80 offers more interior space and arguably more comfortable appointments than the British SUV, at a fraction of the price.