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Infiniti delivers stylish travel

Infiniti’s top-line ultra-luxurious SUV, the 2017 QX80 AWD, is high on opulence and loaded with amenities. Add high-tech safety, real wood interior trim and a 400-horse V-8 under the hood, and you’re traveling in a style that Infiniti delivers so well on this scale. Add the extra built-in safety of a near 3-ton curb weight, and you are indeed “king of the road” wherever you drive.

With a final assembly point in Los Angeles, our American-built tester came with Infiniti’s “All Mode” all-wheel-drive system that couples to a fuel-efficient seven-speed automatic with adaptive shift control. Further, the AWD system can be manually set to offer 4-High and 4-Low settings, or the fully automatic mode will take over for all traction decisions. In auto 4×4, traction is distributed where needed most but never more to front than rear to prevent torque steer.

Sitting under the hood is Infiniti’s powerful 5.6-liter all-aluminum 32-valve DOHC V-8 that puts out 400 horses and 413 pounds of torque. Years ago, an engine like this might deliver 14 mpg highway at best, yet thanks to Infiniti’s advanced transmission gearing and seamless cylinder deactivation during highway cruising, a very impressive 19 mpg highway now awaits families and businesses that need room for seven or eight people.

As for acceleration, the 400-horse engine moves this luxury SUV with real authority, featuring powerful low-end acceleration. Then, when you take the on-ramp to the freeway, expect very good mpg as at 65 mph the rpms read only 1,500. Expect zero to 60 in about 6.4 seconds, which is amazing, considering the QX80’s mass.

The underpinnings feature a sturdy independent double wishbone front/rear design with automatic load-leveling. If you need to tow your boat or vintage automobile, a seven-pin wiring harness is ready to accept your brake controller, while the rear bumper accepts all trailer hookups. There’s a “snow and tow” mode switch to activate modern day suspension technologies, and you’ll be able to tow up to 8,500 pounds easily.

One of the impressive standard features on our top-flight Limited model is an Infiniti Vehicle Dynamic control that includes backup collision intervention, blind spot warning, intelligent brake assist with forward predictive collision warning (slows and brakes the SUV to prevent a collision) and forward emergency braking. A “lane departure prevention” function is also notable in that it actually guides the QX80 back into its intended lane path if the operator does not correct. Your Infiniti dealer will explain this feature, which is optional on the entry-level models that start at $63,850.

Another standard feature I like is a self-leveling suspension and a hydraulic body motion control system that assists the QX80 in distributing weight and preventing lean in the corners. Specifically, a hydraulic circuit unites the four independent suspension components via hydraulic pressure, actuating as necessary while the QX80 is in motion.

Other notable standard features include climate-controlled front seats, leather seating throughout three rows, ash wood trim and stitched leather steering wheel, 15-speaker Bose Cabin Surround sound system with CD/DVD/satellite, all the modern mobile/Bluetooth/USB necessities and much more.

A Theater Package is also standard on the Limited and adds dual 7-inch monitors mounted into the back of the front headrests. Consumers receive two wireless headphones, wireless remote control, auxiliary jacks and a 120V outlet for entertainment equipment.

Huge 22-inch Bridgestone Dueler tires on 14-spoke dark chrome alloys make for an imposing stance. This makes the QX80’s presence stand out even more, although I would rather have the full shiny chrome wheels over the subdued “black chrome” variety.

Since the list of luxurious standard features is too long to list, I assure you that every possible creature comfort is here, and then some.

On the highway, I was able to give the QX80 some nice runs on both freeway and secondary roads and can assure you this is still one of the finest full-size SUVs I’ve driven to date. I especially like the running boards, which assist in entering the cabin, and they feature lighting so you can see them in the dark.

For those fortunate enough to be shopping the Cadillac, Range Rover, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz or other “really big” SUV class vehicles, you owe yourself a test drive. The Infiniti QX80 starts at $63,250 for the rear drive version and then moves up to the $90,000 retail, fully loaded, Limited AWD.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 121.1 inches, 5,888-pound curb weight, from 16.6 to 95.1 cubic feet of cargo room, a 26-gallon fuel tank, a 41.6-foot turning diameter and 13 city/19 highway EPA numbers (rear drive models deliver 14/20 mpg, respectively).

In summary, Infiniti’s QX80 is all about luxury and still makes one of the very best full-size luxury vehicles in the world. If a QX80 interests you, now is a good time to check for some nice incentives on 2017 leftovers. The 2018 model is mechanically identical, although featuring some nice exterior enrichments. Either way, it’s a win-win scenario.

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