By on March 24, 2018

Image: Infiniti

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.

Image: Infiniti

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.

[Images: Infiniti]

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27 Comments on “‘Limited’ to the Number It Can Sell: Infiniti Cranks up the Exclusivity of Its Two Largest Models...”


  • avatar
    brn

    When will American companies learn not to put so many of their resources into large, gas hungry, SUVs?

    • 0 avatar
      turbo_awd

      Just curious how Nissan/Infiniti/Renault(?) qualifies as an “American company”?

    • 0 avatar
      BoogerROTN

      I can’t tell if this is sarcasm or not.

    • 0 avatar
      RSF

      Companies that want to make money put their resources into products that people actually want to buy.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Is this really “so many” of Nissan’s resources? It’s a rebadged global Patrol, same one they sell boatloads of in the ME and to a lesser amount Australia, Africa, Russia, etc.

      Nissan’s fleet that they sell is comprised primarily of really quite frugal CVT-equipped sedans and crossovers. I’m glad they develop and sell trucks as well. While the Titan I’m sure took a decent amount of dedicated resources, the QX80/Armada are gravy for them, same as Toyota/Lexus with the 4Runner/GX, Land Cruiser. Leveraging a very popular global platform with already sunk development costs with just some light re-work.

  • avatar
    BoogerROTN

    Whenever I see the QX80, I can’t help but think about that episode of “The Simpsons” where Homer designs a car for his brother’s automobile company. The lines are a mess, it’s bulbous, suffers from accute chrome diarhea…it’s simply an ugly vehicle.

    That said, if you’re hellbent on driving something resembling a brainbug, I guess you could do worse (ie, spending $20K more to get into an LX 570).

  • avatar
    gtem

    I seriously see an Armada based on this platform in my future. Base trim with the 18 inch wheels with fat sidewalls and velour seats please.

    • 0 avatar
      Dutcowski

      +1.

      I don’t mind the less fussy appearance of the Armada. I’m not fond of tacked on tweaking. Nothing new to the alliance – remember Juke paint shop.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    How is this better than a Suburban LTZ? When GM is good, it is very, very good.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      More content for the price, 5.6L Endurance is closer to the 6.2 in performance than the 5.3L GM mill. I’ll echo what I stated above, throw the Armada in the fray with its even lower price and same standard 5.6L and things get very tricky for the GMs indeed (unless you want that solid axle for towing, that’s hard to beat).

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Sir, if I’m ever back on west 10th street in Speedway I’ll teat you to lunch at Mug-n-Bun.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Hey I appreciate the generous offer! :) I’ve never eaten at the Mug-n-Bun (don’t spend much time on the West side) but I hear good things. I’m more of a Steer Inn kind of guy, since I used to live within walking distance of it on the East side.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “(unless you want that solid axle for towing, that’s hard to beat)”

        You can get around that need for a solid axle on the tow-vehicle by getting a trailer with more solid axles to reduce the tongue weight.

        Trailers with two, three or four solid axles are much better balanced and easier to tow than single-axle trailers that transfer much of the downward pressure to the hitch point, fifth-wheel plate, or gooseneck ball.

    • 0 avatar
      RSF

      Drive one and see for yourself!

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Yup, styling straight from the Chinese. Good on you Nissan!

    http://behindthewheel.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/2017-LDV-D90-launched.jpg

  • avatar
    sgtjmack

    Yawn.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    We like the QX80 and looked at buying one, but no Apple CarPlay and they’re still using that IP from 2000-something. Pass.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Thought briefly about used QX80s when shopping for my LX570. Could have gone a few years newer for the same money, but was unimpressed by interior materials (the semi-aniline leather upgrade feels worse than Lexus’s standard leather) and found the design ugly both inside and out. Also wasn’t excited about the 22s that seem to be on every well-equipped example (the 20s on the Lexus are bad enough).

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      dal I’m curious did the Armada platform-mate enter your consideration at any point? I’m seeing new SV 4wds in the $37k range, used ex-fleet SVs in the $32k range. My biggest qualm as un-important as it may be practically speaking is seeing them hang wheels so easily in even mild offroad situations. But for how I really use my 4Runner (long road trips loaded up with people, dogs, and gear followed by mostly lighter overland-sort of offroading), giving up some hard-core offroad capability for longer highway legs and more space. Driving my 4Runner for 15 hours straight to the Outer Banks really wears me out lol

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        No, the LS460 spoiled me too much on interior materials and features. I was considering only fully loaded trims of premium-brand products. I’m a big softie who got spoiled by goofy things like auto-folding mirrors (killer in the city!) or an air quality sensor that can automatically trigger recirc when the car’s in an exhaust cloud.

        That said the Armada is the best new value in the full-size SUV segment, period.

    • 0 avatar

      Wasn’t impressed with the QX80’s interior materials either when I was in one 3 different times in Nashville. Everything has the veneer of luxury, but when you check it out, it’s just that.

      The third row seats were not usable for anybody over about 5’8″. I will say the active suspension seemed to work, and the whole thing didn’t feel too tipsy and absorbed bumps nicely. And the leather was very soft, though overly stitched in a wave pattern.

      Up front, the continuous-look wood trim and door panel were not even remotely aligned on the passenger side with the dash.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I was doing some car window shopping yesterday. My wife was getting impatient by the time we hit the fourth dealership. There was a used QX80 on the lot and she said, with disgust, “What…is…that?”

    Me: Infiniti’s biggest SUV

    Her: It’s ugly.

  • avatar
    MLS

    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.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @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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