2018 Infiniti QX80 First Test

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Or if you’re Infiniti: If it ain’t broke, give it a face-lift and some minor updates and keep selling it for a few more years. That’s apparently the philosophy the automaker followed when it designed the 2018 QX80, a vehicle that could’ve used a new generation after seven model years. Are the changes good enough to keep Infiniti in the full-size luxury SUV game? We got our hands on a refreshed 2018 QX80 to find out.

When the first official photos of the new QX80 surfaced online, a few staffers (this author included) struggled to spot the changes. The SUV gets headlights and taillights inspired by the QX80 Monograph concept, but other than that, the vehicle looked the same as the Nissan Patrol-based offering that’s been on sale since 2010. That impression doesn’t change when you look over the spec sheet. The 2018 Infiniti QX80 continues to be powered by a 5.6-liter naturally aspirated V-8 making 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque and mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission.

In person, though, it’s much easier to tell Infiniti’s flagship SUV has gone under the knife. The new headlights are fresh and classy and make the front end look less like Shamu. The LEDs housed inside are also impressive, emitting a white beam with an incredibly sharp cutoff pattern. The lights looked so alien radiating across my garage door that I had to double-check that they weren’t laser headlamps, which are still banned in the U.S. The QX80 also gets a redesigned front fender vent and new wheels, which contribute to its more modern exterior look.

Climb (literally) inside the cabin, and you’ll notice new leather upholstery with more quilting covering the seats. You might also notice new stitching throughout the cabin and better wood trim. Our tester came with the new saddle brown and charcoal burl interior scheme, which lends the cabin an attractive, sophisticated look. The front buckets are also supremely comfortable and are complemented by cushy armrests.

At the track, the QX80 accelerated to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds and completed the quarter mile in 14.9 seconds at 94.2 mph. Given the carryover drivetrain, it’s not too surprising that those times exactly match the last pre-refresh 2015 model we tested. Compared to the rest of the class, the QX80 is only quicker than the even-older Lexus LX 570, which does 0-60 in 7.0 seconds and the quarter mile in 15.4 seconds. All other body-on-frame luxury players are quicker, with both the Cadillac Escalade and the twin-turbo V-6-powered Lincoln Navigator coming in at 5.9 seconds to 60 mph.

But for a vehicle weighing more than 6,000 pounds, the QX80 stops surprisingly well. The 2018 model came to a halt from 60 mph in 122 feet, 1 foot shorter than the 2015 model.

Our 2018 Infiniti QX80 4WD stickered at $85,160, which is just about fully loaded for now (a pricier QX80 Limited Edition arrives this summer). That comes in well under the $100,315 as-tested price for the comparably equipped 2018 Lincoln Navigator I recently reviewed. The QX80 also starts at less than all of its body-on-frame competitors,