Hello my old friend, nice to see you still looking so dapper.
Infiniti’s big-grilled, full-bodied, super-luxe QX80 and I have been amigos for well over a decade.
I remember being wowed driving one on the original media intro way back in 2011. Remember spending time with the first facelifted model in 2015, and the second Botox’d edition in 2018.
Then there was a joyous week meandering around the Carolinas covering close to 1,500 miles. And the time I filled the Infiniti’s massive load space – over 95 cubic feet – with the contents of a buddy’s apartment and helped him move 800 miles.
When neighbors asked for a recommendation for a swanky, full-size SUV, big enough to haul their boat, I recommended the big QX with its 8,500-pound tow capacity. They still have it, still love it.
Yup, the Infiniti and I go back. Way back.
So climbing behind the wheel of the latest QX80, the highfalutin’ flagship 2023 Sensory model, felt like meeting-up with an old friend, and feeling that warm, comfortable, easy feeling of familiarity.
Of course, these days it’s a bit of a dinosaur. Twelve years is a lifetime in the auto business. Newer rivals, like the latest Cadillac Escalade, Jeep Grand Wagoneer, Lincoln Navigator and awesome new Range Rover, have put the QX firmly in the AARP category.
Here is a luxe truck that still uses blacksmith-technology body-on-frame construction, still has a big ol’ V8 under the hood with not a hint of electrification, and a dashboard design that qualifies as Mid-Century Modern.
Yet somehow the big Infiniti still manages to feel relevant, still competitive enough to go head-to-head with slicker, more modern rivals.
Part of that is down to the QX’s massive showroom appeal. The thing still looks terrific, and timeless, with that now-trendy, oversize chrome grille, towering 22-inch wheels, and a body with more curves than Mariah Carey.
Climb aboard and the interior will have you at “hello”. We all love a little luxury and the Infiniti slathers it around like a drywaller spreads spackle.
All that glove-soft, semi-aniline leather, double-stitched and quilted, perforated and padded, and as fancy as any Bentley’s. Add to that the kind of mirror-varnished, artisan-finished woodwork that wouldn’t look out of place in Beyonce’s jet.
Need to do chauffeur duty? The second-row seat is Singapore Airlines first class. Acres of legroom, Barcalounger reclining comfort, and TV screens in the front headrests. There’s even a third row. Small. But there.
Out on the road, the big QX still surprises and delights. Yes, that lusty 5.6-liter naturally-aspirated V8 has been around since the days of Noah.
Yet its 400 horseys and muscular 413 lb-ft of torque is enough to motivate this 5,700-pound leviathan from rest to 60mph in around six seconds, and cruise at 75mph on I-75 in serene silence.
Just don’t mention the gas mileage. Around town you’ll be lucky to get 13 to the gallon, and even on the highway, 19mpg is probably the best you can hope for.
Despite its considerable bulk and towering roofline, the QX feels surprisingly capable and competent though the curves.
Write that down to the impressive Hydraulic Body Motion Control system that comes standard with the Sensory trim and delivers the kind of ride comfort only matched by Ali-Baba’s magic carpet.
But agile and athletic? That would be a no.
For 2023 the QX does get a couple of useful upgrades. The addition of Amazon Alexa voice assistant is one, Infiniti Premium Care with free three-year maintenance is another. But nothing that will have lines forming around the Infiniti store.
Arguably its best feature is the sticker price. The starter QX, the extremely well-equipped QX80 Luxe is priced from just $72,700. That’s a real deal. Even our all-bells and-whistles Sensory can be had for under $85,000.
Me? I can’t wait to drive the next-generation QX80, probably in 2030. It might have a new cupholder design by then.