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

infinitis 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.

  • Tane94 are both eligible for federal tax credits? That's the big $7,500 question.
  • Jkross22 Toenail says what?
  • MaintenanceCosts This sounds like old-school GM drama!
  • SCE to AUX It's not really a total re-badge since some of the body parts are unique, and the interiors are quite different.As I mentioned the other day, the Tonale has a terrible name and a dim future.As for the Alfa team - guess what, this is how corporate ownership works. You are part of Stellantis partly because you're not viable as a standalone business, and then your overlords decide what's shared among the products.By the way: That Uconnect infotainment system found in Alfas was originally a Chrysler product... you're welcome.
  • Kurkosdr Someone should tell the Alfa Romeo people that they are a badge owned by a French company now.The main reason PSA bought FiatChrysler is that PSA has the technology to enter the luxury market but customers don't want a French luxury car for psychological/mindshare reasons. FiatChrysler has the opposite problem: they have lots of still-respected brands but not always the technology to make good cars. Not to say that if FCA has a good platform, it won't be used in a PSA car.In other words, if those Alfa Romeo buds think that they will remain a silo with their own bespoke platforms and exclusive sheet metal, they are in for a shock. This is just the start.