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2015 Infiniti QX80 – All Aboard

Whoever still thinks that the Japanese make small cars hasn’t seen the new and improved 2015 Infiniti QX80 AWD. To say that this SUV is large is an understatement; it could probably use two postal codes. But after spending a week with this Limited model SUV, I gotta say, I really like it.

The new QX80, and all other Infiniti vehicles, underwent a complete name change in 2014. Gone are all letters such as G, FX, JX, etc.; they have all been replaced by either a Q or a QX (indicating SUV). I don’t know if this was necessary, but maybe Infiniti thought it would be simpler.

The QX80 looks like nothing else on the road. It’s got bumps, curves, and straight lines, all combined into a distinct shape. I don’t mind the design, but a few of my friends thought it looked like a hippo. Hmm….a hippo? Moving on, did I mention that the new QX80 AWD is a behemoth? From whichever side you look at it, this vehicle is huge, and it makes no attempt to hide that fact. The front end, which has a much better looking grill compared to last year, is big and bold. The body lines are high and straight, and both bumpers, complete with flush mount sensors, are also enormous. The 2015 model includes new headlights, which Infiniti says resemble our eyes. Also new is that the headlights, turn signals and fog lights are all LED’s, which is great for longevity and brightness. Just to make sure that the concept of big was maximized, my test vehicle came equipped with the huge 22” tire and wheel package as well.

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The QX80’s cavern is a dream come true for bigger and taller people or even a large family. I’m 5’11” and stepping inside the vehicle made me feel a few inches shorter. My elder daughter said it best: “Dada, we can even play in here!” And, if you need to move things, you can very easily with over 95 cubic feet of available cargo space with both second and third row seats folded down – that is a lot of space.

Ever since the QX56 was redone a couple of years ago, the interior of this SUV has become much more refined. There is quality wood trim, supple leather with accent stitching (on Premium models), chrome accents, and an endless array of options and accessories to make your trip comfortable and enjoyable. The interior clearly expresses that you are sitting inside a luxury vehicle. One oversight by Infiniti, however, is the puny and useless moon roof. Not that the cabin needs to look bigger, but with a vehicle of this size, a panoramic roof is a must – what’s worse is that it’s not even an option. Other than that, my Limited model test vehicle was fully loaded with every available option.

Getting into the QX80 was okay for me, but shorter people may have to get used to the high step-up; the running boards do help though. I was asked by some people what it felt like sitting in the QX80 – the best answer I can give is that it’s very very comfortable. The seats are like the recliners in your living room: big, roomy, and relaxing, complete with heating and cooling options for front passengers. If you’re planning on taking this SUV regularly on long road trips, get the heated/cooled seat option for sure. All passengers have ample leg and head room, but if you’re loading up the vehicle, put the kids in the third row. And, if you don’t need the bench option, I would suggest the captain chairs for the second row as well (both are the same price).

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The 2015 QX80 is powered by the same 5.6 liter V8 as last year and it’s a gem of an engine. With 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque, the V8 powerplant moves this Infiniti with relative ease, even if towing a boat. What I found impressive with this engine is that you don’t notice the power kicking in because the engine and mated 7-speed transmission are both so refined. Acceleration is smooth and quiet, almost too quiet if you’re the more performance-oriented driver. Speaking of noiseless, the QX’s cabin is one of the quietest I’ve been in. There is virtually no engine or road noise; you might get a touch of wind noise, but that’s about it. I’m glad to see that more manufacturers are investing in interior acoustics and sound dampening.

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What really impressed me with the QX80 was the navigation, Bluetooth, and streaming capabilities. The voice-activated navigation system is one of the fastest and most accurate in the market. Whereas the voice controls systems in other vehicles are sluggish, Infiniti’s is very quick. Telephone communication via Bluetooth was excellent, as was streaming music from my phone. My Limited model came with the 15-speaker Bose system and if you’re an audiophile like me, don’t pass up on this option. Imagine driving down the highway, listening to your music genre in crystal clear quality, and LOUD. Another great feature of this vehicle is the AroundView 360 degree camera, which comes in handy when parking or maneuvering around tight areas. Put the vehicle in reverse and you can get a bird’s eye picture of the vehicle – I really liked this feature.

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Getting back to performance, or lack thereof, the steering doesn’t communicate very well with the driver and the ride is kind of doughy. Some may complain that the vehicle is not fun to drive, but the QX80 soaks up bumps on the road quite well, again, providing for a very comfortable ride. It’s kind of like comparing a speed boat to a small yacht – the QX80 won’t give you the speed and handling of a sports car, and clearly, this Infiniti is not aiming at such potential buyers. But this is a vehicle that I could see parked in my driveway for my own family. I like comfort and the QX80 provides just that.

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The 2015 Infiniti QX80 is a great SUV, especially since it offers the same off-road capabilities as most trucks, something other SUV’s usually lack. With so many power options available in this vehicle, you can customize the QX80 to your personal taste. I would suggest taking this vehicle for a test drive before looking at other brands as you may be thoroughly impressed – I was.

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