'Limited' to the Number It Can Sell: Infiniti Cranks up the Exclusivity of Its Two Largest Models

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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.

[Images: Infiniti]

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  • MLS 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 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.

  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts I like the styling of this car inside and out, but not any of the powertrains. Give it the 4xe powertrain - or, better yet, a version of that powertrain with the 6-cylinder Hurricane - and I'd be very interested.
  • Daniel J I believe anyone, at any level, should get paid as much as the market will bear. Why should CEOs have capped salaries or compensation but middle management shouldn't? If companies support poor CEOs and poor CEOs keep getting rewarded, it's up to the consumer and investors to force that company to either get a better CEO or to reduce the salary of that CEO. What I find hilarious is that consumers will continue to support companies where the pay for the CEOs is very high. And the same people complain. I stopped buying from Amazon during the pandemic. Everyone happily buys from them but the CEO makes bank. Same way with Walmart and many other retailers. Tim Cook got 100m in compensation last year yet people line up to buy Iphones. People who complain and still buy the products must not really care that much.