Even a brief glance at sales figures for SUVs and crossovers will reveal that the volume sellers are mostly in the compact or medium class. Full size luxury SUVs are not as widely popular, but there are lots of families and individuals around who wouldn’t make do with anything else and almost all major automakers offer a model in this segment.
Infiniti’s entry in the big SUV field is the 2018 QX80, a new version of which was launched at the recent Dubai auto show. It’s a big, bold, vehicle and picks up on Infiniti’s “powerful elegance” design language, which has been applied to other products in the company’s lineup. Infiniti describes the QX80 as “contemporary and commanding” and few would argue with that. One of Infiniti’s aims with this SUV was to give the driver a feeling of control and confidence behind the wheel.
This new interpretation of upscale luxury has clearly been developed without too much financial restraint and like its rivals, it’s likely to be understandably expensive, though no Canadian pricing has been published as yet. Infiniti points out that the QX80 it “will appeal to drivers that want for nothing – affluent high-achieving entrepreneurs and business leaders, often with families, who demand space and utility, hand-crafted quality, modern design and effortless on-road performance.”
The heart of this new Infiniti is a 5.6-litre V-8 engine producing 400-horsepower and a hefty 413 lb ft of torque. Although V-8 engines have been replaced by sixes in many mid-sized SUVs and crossovers, V-8s still reign supreme in the full-size class. Rigs like this are fully capable of towing large boats of travel trailers and that’s why many people buy them. Even though this is a large vehicle, it’ll top 100 km/h in 7.5 seconds, which is almost sports car territory. The engine is mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. The QX80 uses a proper four-wheel drive system (which is customizable too) and is thus capable of dealing with very rugged territory. Part of the technology of the 4WD setup is interaction with the anti-lock brakes to redistribute torque from spinning wheels to those that have grip. Rear auto-leveling suspension automatically adjusts suspension pressure to maintain the optimum ride height when heavy cargo is aboard or a trailer is being towed.
The interior is both roomy and sumptuously trimmed and features very fine detailing and design. I don’t think I’ve ever driven an Infiniti with an interior I didn’t like and there’s no doubt that the company is a market leader when it comes to cabin ambiance. Naturally, it comes with every safety and convenience item that can be packed into a vehicle like this. Buyers can opt for 7 or 8-seat configurations and luggage capacity for either is very impressive.
The new QX80 is a very desirable addition to the small but highly competitive segment of full-size go-anywhere utility vehicles and with its convincing performance levels, high levels of luxury and very attractive design features, it should prove a strong contender at the very pinnacle of the SUV market.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Four-door full-size SUV
ENGINE: 5.6-litre V-8
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic
TOWING CAPABILITY: 8,500 lbs for some versions
FUEL ECONOMY: 15-1-litres/100 km combined
PRICE: TBA, arrives late 2017