Infiniti's Biggest SUV Tones It Down, Classes It Up for 2018

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
infiniti s biggest suv tones it down classes it up for 2018

I recall once having a discussion in TTAC’s Slack chatroom. The topic, one that doesn’t come up all that often these days, was styling excess. Way too much gingerbread, far too much latter-day Baroque flourishes, and too confusing a design can turn a high-priced vehicle into a dog’s breakfast.

In my opinion, that described the Infiniti QX80 to a “T.”

When Infiniti’s full-size, body-on-frame SUV launched in mid-2013, “understated,” “muted,” and “tasteful” were not words that jumped to the forefront of one’s mind. Thankfully, Infiniti has taken an eraser to the model’s most controversial elements for 2018, resulting in a vehicle that’s much more cohesive, yet similar in profile.

This is a refresh, not a ground-up redesign, but Infiniti seems to have made the best of it. Gone is the awkward, humped grille that seemed to extend too far towards the windshield. The triple-hole fender vents, which reminded this viewer of either dinosaur bones or a knife handle, are gone, replaced with a much more conventional — and classier — fender flourish. (Seriously, hasn’t this trend run its course yet?)

The addition of Infiniti’s new corporate grille to the QX80’s visage, coupled with a cleaner, remolded lower fascia and ample use of LED lighting, works wonders for first impressions. Too bad about those unalterable, upright D-pillars. Still, Infiniti’s new “Powerful Elegance” styling smooths out the front and rear so much, only the side profile assures the viewer (quite strongly) that this is merely a facelift. As well, both 20- and 22-inch wheels receive new designs.

Infiniti claims its design team aimed for an impression of greater length, even though the vehicle’s proportions remain wholly unchanged. Viewed from the front, yes, it might look longer. As before, the 5.6-liter V8 carries over, making 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed automatic is the only transmission. Also, like before, buyers can choose from rear- or all-wheel drive, with the grippier model sporting a brake-actuated anti-slip system.

If Infiniti’s aim for the exterior was to dial down the tawdriness and boost the glamor, the same ethos carried forth inside. Luxury buyers want to positively drown in luxury after entering a premium SUV, and the QX80 doesn’t disappoint. There’s been some rearrangement of buttons and knobs, but the big story is the finishes and materials.

New leathers combine with new available wood trims to ensure the cockpit of your new QX80 is as brown and shimmery as Ron Burgundy’s most Malaise-tastic dreams. Contrast stitching and piping? Yes, there’s that. There’s also more soundproofing for a quieter cabin, denser floor carpets, larger entertainment screens for rear-seat passengers (up an inch to 8.0 inches), an updated InTouch infotainment system (accessed via an 8.0-inch touchscreen), a larger front console storage bin, a full suite of driver assist technologies (including automatic emergency braking), and a digital rear-view “mirror.”

In the backseat, tech-obsessed passengers who find themselves unable to appreciate the opulence can immerse themselves in digital mediocrity via a new HDMI auxiliary port and two extra USB ports. As well, those rear screens are no longer required to play the same show or movie. Entertainment autonomy has arrived in the back of the QX80, it seems.

As for ride quality, the automaker didn’t seem convinced that its Hydraulic Body Motion Control system could quell every bump and shudder, so it changed the angle of the steel belt in the tire sidewall, reducing vertical deflection by 5 percent. In other words, the tire acts as more of a shock absorber than before. Meanwhile, newly softer shock absorber pistons join forces with the vehicle’s adaptive suspension to tame body lean in corners, as well as keep the peace over larger bumps.

The 2018 Infiniti QX80, which debuted Tuesday at the Dubai Motor Show, adds $900 to the entry price of 2WD and 4WD variants, meaning you’ll need to part with at least $65,745 to get inside one. The model should be on sale by the end of the year.

[Images: Infiniti]

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  • Cbrworm Cbrworm on Nov 15, 2017

    Wow, the exterior really looks much better. I'm not so sure about the interior, but it is probably more than sufficient for my kids & pets to ruin. There are a ton of the current body style QX80's running around here doing high school kid duty. Before I drove one for the first time, I had no appreciation for how well they drove and how nice they are compared to other big vehicles. I'm just not a fan of the Escalade, which is what I would compare it to. From exterior looks alone, I never would have considered one. From the inside, it is nice enough and drives well. My goto vehicle in this size segment has always been the Sequoia, but I wouldn't consider purchasing the new massive one and the old first gen body style ones are getting old.

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Nov 15, 2017

    Having been around the Q50 and Q60, there's absolutely no room under that hood for a V8.

  • CEastwood Seven mil nitrile gloves from Harbor Freight for oil changes and such and the thicker heavy duty gripper gloves from Wally World for most everything else . Hell we used to use no gloves for any of that and when we did it was usually the white cloth gloves bought by the dozen or the gray striped cuff ones for heavy duty use . Old man rant over , but I laugh when I see these types of gloves in a bargain bin at Home Cheapo for 15 bucks a pair !
  • Not Previous Used Car of the Day entries that spent decades in the weeds would still be a better purchase than this car. The sucker who takes on this depreciated machine will learn the hard way that a cheap German car is actually a very expensive way to drive around.
  • Bullnuke Well, production cuts may be due to transport-to-market issues. The MV Fremantle Highway is in a Rotterdam shipyard undergoing repairs from the last shipment of VW products (along with BMW and others) and to adequately fireproof it. The word in the shipping community is that insurance necessary for ships moving EVs is under serious review.
  • Frank Wait until the gov't subsidies end, you aint seen nothing yet. Ive been "on the floor" when they pulled them for fuel efficient vehicles back during/after the recession and the sales of those cars stopped dead in their tracks
  • Vulpine The issue is really stupidly simple; both names can be taken the wrong way by those who enjoy abusing language. Implying a certain piece of anatomy is a sign of juvenile idiocy which is what triggered the original name-change. The problem was not caused by the company but rather by those who continuously ridiculed the original name for the purpose of VERY low-brow humor.