'Limited' to the Number It Can Sell: Infiniti Cranks up the Exclusivity of Its Two Largest Models
Even with vehicles that aren’t at the forefront of public discourse, the winds blowing in favor of trucks and SUVs usually fill the sails of under-the-radar models, too. That’s been the case, more or less, for Infiniti’s top-of-the-heap QX60 and QX80 utility vehicles.
Born as the JX35, the QX60 three-row crossover shares its unibody architecture with the Nissan Pathfinder, but, despite a facelift for 2016, sales slipped last year. Its larger sibling, the body-on-frame, Nissan Patrol-based QX80, gained its own facelift for 2018. The range-topping SUV is the poster child for gradual sales inflation. Between 2016 and 2017, the QX80 found an extra 1,109 buyers in the United States. Another 1,126 hopped aboard between 2015 and 2016.
Hoping to lure more customers into the showroom (while squeezing more profit from both models), Infiniti is putting a time-honored strategy into action. For 2019, the automaker dials up the glitz and slaps on a “Limited” label.
On display next week at the New York International Auto Show, the 2019 QX60 Limited and QX80 Limited crank the luxury up to “11,” offering buyers more bits that shine and sparkle, plus a plusher cabin. Just don’t expect anything new in the powertrain department.
For the top-trim QX60, going Limited means donning a dark chrome grille, door moldings, and foglight surrounds, as well as roof rails and crossbars swathed in “premium” dark paint — not some run-of-the-mill, low-end roof rail paint, mind you. The lower rear bumper sees its own helping of glossy black paint, and the 20-inch wheels go dark to complete the motif. Inside, it’s quilted leather with contrast stitching here and leather-wrapped grab handles there.
Interestingly, Infiniti’s full suite of available driver assist features is only listed as “available” on this top-trim model. Nor is all-wheel drive mentioned. Apparently, the “Limited” badge doesn’t bring every goodie to the QX60 table.
It’s a different story for the QX80 Limited, which offers a full range of safety features as standard equipment— including forward emergency braking and backup collision intervention. A smart rear-view mirror offers drivers the choice of alternating between a conventional mirror view or an all-seeing video monitor. All-Mode four-wheel drive comes standard, as well.
Inside, the ultra-lux QX80 surrounds its occupants with two-tone aniline leather/Alcantara seats with contrast piping and stitching, suede headliner and pillars, and open-pore Ash trim. Passengers unable to find the word “Limited” in the cabin had best have their eyes checked. Outside, the running board go stainless, while satin chrome appears wherever possible. 22-inch wheels come standard.
While pricing remains unknown, expect an obvious step up from lesser trims.
Infiniti saw its sales fall 6.7 percent in the U.S. last month, year over year, with volume dropping 7.3 percent over the first two months of 2018. Much of the blame for the decline falls on the phasing-out of the QX70 and the phasing-in of the 2019 QX50. As for the QX60 and QX80, neither model is a drag on Infiniti’s fortunes. QX60 sales rose 46 percent in February, year over year, while the QX80 eked out a 4.1 percent gain. Sales of both models are up during the first two months of 2018.
MLS on Mar 26, 2018
And with the QX60's center armrest, we've reached peak quilting. Also, agree with dal20402's assessment of the QX80's interior: materials and especially design are underwhelming. In particular, that vast expanse of lacquered veneer between the front seats is practically begging to be scratched. I recognize QX80 likely sells at a discount to its peers, but then again everything in its class is nicer.
Jeff S on Mar 26, 2018
@Big Al--I miss the styling of the cars of the past but overall I do like the safety, reliability, and better fuel efficiency of today's vehicles. I am ok with vehicles being more appliance like, at least you know what to expect and can get many years of reliable service out of today's vehicles. I have been very satisfied with the service I have gotten out of most of my vehicles over the past 20 years. I cannot say that I have had a bad vehicle except a Mercury Lynx my brother gave me.
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