Nissan’s Infiniti luxury division is going through a major naming shift in 2014, with many of its new vehicle names changing, even if a lot of the cars and light-duty trucks themselves are very familiar.
A good case in point is Infiniti’s top-of-the-line, eight-passenger sport-utility vehicle. Known as the QX56 in 2013, the 2014 model will be called the QX80, although it is largely a carryover, save for the addition of Infiniti’s Backup Collision Intervention System, which becomes part of the high-line SUV’s optional Technology Package. The body, chassis, engine and most other key components remain unchanged between the two.
SPEED.com tested a late 2013 QX56 and found it a more-than-worthy competitor in the high-end SUV category, where it battles such capable opposition as the Cadillac Escalade, Range Rover and Lexus LS 570.
The big Infiniti carries all the right tools into the fight, starting with a 5.6-liter V-8 that produces 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque, good enough to give the QX56 an impressive towing capacity of 8,500 pounds and equally impressive 0-60 acceleration in the neighborhood of seven seconds. For a vehicle this big, that’s hauling. Naturally, given the nearly three-ton curb weight of the QX56, fuel mileage is modest, specifically 14 miles per gallon in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. Still, all things considered, that’s not too bad.
The engine is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission and Infiniti’s sophisticated, computer-controlled all-wheel-drive system, which it calls “All-Mode.” You can run in auto mode, 4-high, 4-low, snow mode and tow mode. Powerful anti-lock brakes add to the sense of security, as do Infiniti’s Vehicle Dynamic Control and Traction Control System. Truth is, in something this big, where you sit up so high, you pretty much feel invincible anyway. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not rated the QX56 for safety.
With a base price of $63,750 (the 2014 QX80 starts at $64,450), the QX56 is very, very well equipped. Naturally, the interior is awash in supple leather and rich burl wood trim, the front seats are heated, there is a three-zone automatic temperature control to cover all three rows of seats, a huge power sliding glass moonroof, the rear liftgate is power and there are more airbags and safety features than there is room to list all of them.
Be that as it may, our tester was festooned with a treasure trove of additional options:
• The Theater Package ($3,100) added two 7-inch color monitors in the back of the front seats; two sets of wireless headphones; a wireless remote control; auxiliary audio/video jacks; a handy 120V power outlet; and fancy second-row seats that were heated and tipped up for easy entry to the third row.
• The Technology Package ($3,000) featured intelligent cruise control; a blind-spot warning and intervention system; lane departure warning and prevention; intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning; distance control assist; front pre-crash seat belts; and an adaptive front lighting system with auto-leveling headlights.
• The Deluxe Touring Package ($4,650) included a Bose Cabin Surround sound system with 15 speakers; hydraulic body motion control system; climate-controlled front seats (cooled as well as heated); semi-aniline leather seating; mocha burl trim; advanced climate control system; second-row footwell courtesy lights; and headlight washers.
Last but not least:
• Tire & Wheel package ($2,450). If the standard 20-inch dubs are too plebian for you, this package included 22-inch, nine-spoke forged alloy wheels and all-season tires.
Add it all up and the test QX56 carried a window sticker of $78,140, definitely not something for the faint of wallet.
In terms of on-road experience, the QX56 is sublime. It’s a big, large vehicle and if you aren’t a fan of plus sizes in the first place, this likely won’t change your mind, but if you like to roll large, the QX56 is a great choice. It’s got very hip styling, complete with old school-style front-fender portholes and an interesting rear roof-pillar configuration. Our tester came in Black Obsidian paint over wheat leather and it definitely made a strong visual statement.
Infiniti’s interior layout is very sensible, particularly the center stack that houses the nav system, stereo and HVAC controls. The controls are intuitive and easy to use, which isn’t always the case with luxury vehicles, where sometimes engineers outthink themselves. That isn’t a problem here.
The front two rows offer ample room and comfort, although the third row is best reserved for young folks, especially on longer drives.
All told, Infiniti did an excellent job with the QX56 and we fully expect the 2014 QX80 to be every bit as successful.
VEHICLE TYPE: Eight-passenger, four-door SUV, all-wheel drive.
ENGINE: 5.6-liter V-8, 400 horsepower, 413 pound-feet of torque.
TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed automatic.
WHEELBASE: 121 inches.
OVERALL LENGTH: 208.3 inches.
CURB WEIGHT: 5,878 pounds.
EPA MILEAGE RATING: 14 city, 20 highway.