Smooth Operator

Reviewing the 2019 Infiniti QX80.

Now in its mid-teens, the Infiniti QX80 is a large luxury sport utility vehicle with three rows of seating and a dual personality. It has many creature comforts and plenty of driving nimbleness for a heavyweight people mover. But it also has ruggedness to spare.

Formerly called the QX56, a reference to its 5.6-liter engine, the QX80 designation on recent years’ models corresponds to nothing more than a new name.

By whatever name, the monster SUV holds a unique distinction for the upscale division of Nissan. It was the first Infiniti, which debuted in 1989, built in the U.S.

A vast upgrade was done inside and outside last year, including a retuned suspension and increased insulation. But this year’s QX80 is overall the same generation introduced in 2011 with a few improvements.

The Infiniti beast is equipped with a 5.6- liter V8 with 400 horsepower and four-wheel drive. It advances with a seven-speed automatic transmission with adaptive shift control and manual shift mode. The Infiniti weighs about three tons and can tow 8,500 pounds.

Aligning with the industry trends, 2019 QX80 includes standard safety features

such as automatic
emergency braking, forward collision warning and pedestrian detection.

Complementing its power and performance, Infiniti’s largest vehicle is a smooth operator. It handles nimbly, like a luxury sedan. The ride is quiet and the SUV negotiates bumps as if they’re not there. The overall vision is another strong suit. At night, the Infiniti logo projects on the ground in front of the driver and front-seat passenger doors.

The QX80’s interior design quality and functionality is impressive. One dilemma for some large SUVs is access to third-row seating. The Infiniti’s approach is as nimble as the vehicle’s driving limberness. The individual second-row seats easily fold forward, presenting a sizable opening to the third row.

Infiniti packs a lot into its versatile SUVs. Technology offerings are vast, although the eight-inch navigation screen is smaller than what might be expected in a large SUV. The 15-speaker Bose audio system is satisfactory but not up to top-notch systems in other manufacturers’ vehicles.

The 60-40 split third-row seats are lowered and raised with a power but- ton on the right wall inside the tailgate. Second-row occupants have individual 8-inch entertainment screens. The mini movie theatre on wheels has a wireless remote control and two headphones. Both rows are spacious.

The hefty QX80 price means it will be attractive to a niche-buying segment for whom fuel efficiency is not important. A roomy, safe, comfortable, powerful and versatile SUV is important. There’s much to be said for that.

James Raia, a freelance writer based in Sacramento, California, specializes in sports and lifestyle topics. He publishes the website theweeklydriver.com.