Weekend Wheels: Infiniti’s QX80 still rocks

Fire up the candles, Infiniti’s honking XXL-sized QX80 super-luxe SUV is celebrating its 10th birthday this year. 

Typically, any vehicle that’s a decade old and has reached that milestone without significant nips, tucks and jabs of Botox would be considered well past its sell-by date. 

Not so the QX80. Here is the Betty White of the automotive world, seeming to defy age and continuing to win fans. Last year, Infiniti USA off-loaded more than 20,000 of them. That’s impressive.

Maybe it’s because the flagship Infiniti’s curvy, voluptuous body was so “out there” when it was introduced back in 2011 as the QX56. See one on the road today, and its design still looks fresh, bold, unique. 

And while that humongous honeycomb grille seemed outrageous a decade ago, in today’s era of comically large BMW X7, Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon and Lincoln Navigator kissers, the Infiniti’s fits right in. 

Me? I still can’t look at the big QX with its evil-eye headlights and not see a Star Wars Stormtrooper. Even the stark white of our tester matches the ‘trooper’s white body armor. Google it and see if I’m not right. 

I’m also convinced that it’s the Infiniti’s cabin design, quality and craftsmanship that continue to draw in potential buyers like a moth to a flame. 

Open a door and prepare to be wowed by all those acres of Bentley-esque diamond-quilted leather, the matte open-pore wood and fancy brushed metal accents. Just gorgeous. Still is. 

It’s also uncompromisingly huge in every dimension. Which is exactly what American families still crave. Room for seven or eight to sit in total comfort. Room to throw in all those bags and boxes. Room to breathe. 

And beneath that fancy exterior and cushy insides, the super-sized Infiniti continues to be one big-biceped workhorse. 

It still uses tough body-on-frame construction. Can still tow up to 8,500 pounds. Still has a 5.6-liter V8 packing 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. 

And while there was a time in the past decade when 13 mpg city fuel economy was considered politically incorrect, today’s two-bucks-fifty a gallon makes it less of an issue. 

So, to mark the Big Q’s 10th birthday, and remind myself of its enduring charms, I just spent a week with the mid-range QX80 Premium Select 4WD version. Base price $$76,450, or $80,185 with a few extra baubles. 

You can actually get into a 2021 QX80 for $69,050, which is for the two-wheel drive Luxe. Interestingly, at the top end of the lineup, the all-bells-and-whistles Sensory model stickers for $81,595. That’s $11,250 less than its 2020 equivalent. 

The Premium Select trim of our tester really is a standout. I love the dark chrome finish around the grille and lower intake. Love the huge 22-inch forged alloy rims and shiny fender vents. 

Our tester was spec’d, corporate-jet-style, with two comfy captain’s chairs in the second row and a huge console between the seats. Lift the lid and you could hide bodies down in there. 

Despite the portly 6,000-pound curb weight, the QX can still hoist its skirts and hustle. It’ll glide away from stoplights, merge easily with the Interstate flow, and whisk past slower traffic. All in whisper-like serenity. 

No, the seven-speed automatic isn’t as eager or responsive as the 10-speeders that come with the latest Escalade or Navigator. But its shifts are always Teflon-smooth. 

And despite its towering height and not-insignificant bulk, the big Infiniti handles itself well, carving curves with minimal body roll and riding with magic-carpet smoothness. 

No, the steering won’t win any prizes for feel or precision, but it’s nicely weighted and allows for relaxed, no-stress driving.

On its 10th birthday, the QX80 does face some serious competition from newer, more technically advanced rivals. But it’s hard not to love the big Q. Here’s to another 10 years. 

Test drive the 2021 QX80 at Infiniti of Tampa, and Lokey Infiniti in Clearwater.

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