Home Reviews 2022 INFINITI QX80 Sensory – Alright For The Suburbs

2022 INFINITI QX80 Sensory – Alright For The Suburbs

The 2022 INFINITI QX80 Sensory is INFINITI’s flagship SUV. Since it has essentially remained unchanged since its debut in 2011, it is starting to get long on the tooth compared to its rivals. The Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, and Lexus LX600 have all been redesigned or updated recently, and they can command their pricing in the high-margin luxury SUV segment. The INFINITI QX80, on the other hand, desperately needs a complete overall to remain competitive in its segment.

Out of Spec Score: 60/100

Styling: 4/10

The INFINITI QX80 has not changed its styling since its 2011 debut. Back in 2011, it looked like a great evolution of the first-generation INFINITI QX56 styling, with a more rounded front and rear fascia compared to its previous generation. Fast forward to 2022, it is unmistakably a QX80 when you see it gliding down the road, even with an exterior refresh in 2018 to bring it in line with the rest of the INFINITI lineup. Starting from the front, you are greeted with a large, imposing grille trimmed in chrome. The front headlights serve as bookends for the “human-eye headlamps,” which is how INFINITI refers to their headlight design. Standing in front of the vehicle, the QX80 makes its presence known. 

Heading down the side of the QX80, you are greeted by a large wheel arch sporting 22-inch dark chrome alloy wheels, standard on the top of the line Sensory trim. Above the wheel arches are upright air vents that offer the QX80 a sporty look to tackle the carpool run. Moving along the side, you have large chrome capped mirrors that help you spot any vehicle that does not make it past the QX80’s beltline. To help with that carpool run, the QX80 features a running board that will help parents and their children climb into the vehicle. A neat feature we stumbled upon is the INFINITI Radiant Exterior Welcome Lighting, which illuminates the ground beneath the running boards as you approach the vehicle with the key in your pocket. The side windows are large, enabling occupants to freely see outside. 

As you come around the back, the rear bumper bulge greets you as it has since 2011. The taillight assemblies are split in half by more exterior chrome accents, which spell out INFINITI across the power-operated tailgate. The rear sill plate protects the top of the bumper from loading items into the cargo area and adds a rugged flare to the rear design. Overall, styling is fine but is starting to show its age, mainly due to its dated design compared to its competition.

Interior: 5/10

Welcoming you with illuminated door sills for the front and rear passengers, the QX80 greets the driver with quilted semi-aniline leather seats, and for this particular vehicle, a mixture of saddle brown leather, charcoal burl wood grain, and soft plastics throughout the cabin. The QX tries to hide its age with a new, single 12.3-inch, high-definition INFINITI InTouch infotainment display, which is both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. Below the infotainment display are two knobs for volume and audio controls. You find the climate controls placed in the middle of the center stack, with physical buttons making adjustments easy. With the Sensory trim, you receive both heated and cooled front seats, but no massaging feature is available like in several of the INFINITIs competitors.

The interior appointments surprised me by the lack of piano black trim in the interior – a welcome sight for the prospective buyer who does not want fingerprints all over the interior. I was also impressed by the heated wood steering wheel trimmed in stitching to match the interior color, something that many automakers struggle to implement. I was not impressed by the door handle because it was very hard plastic, and felt cheap at  this price-point. I could also see some parts sharing with its Nissan cousin in some of the switches and especially while feeling the material on the dashboard, which was hard plastic for the non-leather parts.. I also found the seats to be uncomfortable for someone of my stature (~5 ft. 8 in.) for longer drives, as the lumbar did not fully deflate to my liking. The backrest padding hit me in the middle of my back, which led to the uncomfortable seating.  

Stepping into the second row, you are greeted by an illuminated door sill, an option found in this example. The second row has two bucket seats, or captains chairs, separated by a center console with ample storage compartments. Second row passengers enjoy similar perks to the front passengers, with heated and reclining rear seats and dual TV monitors for entertainment. The controls for the second-row passengers also featured some parts sharing from other cars in the family. Entry into the third row is quick and easy, with one-touch operation to manually access the third row seating. The third row is ideal for children, but smaller adults can sit back there rather comfortably for a shorter drive.

Performance: 5/10

The 2022 QX80 is powered by a 5.6-liter V-8 that makes 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque, which is mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. The QX80 comes with rear-wheel drive as standard or available with INFINITI All-Mode Four-Wheel Drive. The four-wheel drive system has auto mode, 4 high (4H), and 4 low (4L), as well as a tow mode and a snow mode. The power of the 5.6-liter V8 made for effortless merging onto the highway even at higher elevation, and it also delivers an impressive towing rating of up to 8,500 pounds. It could benefit from some forced induction to help with power at our elevation. V8 does come at a price, with EPA fuel economy ratings of 13 city / 19 highway for the Sensory 4WD trim on recommended premium fuel you won’t be driving by many gas stations. 

The QX80 rides down the road like a boat. It floats down the freeway and tends to wander when going over bumps, even with the Hydraulic Body Motion Control System found on the Sensory trim. I found the Body Motion Control System to be smooth on stretches of the freeway, but the system struggled on smaller potholes, which could be attributed to the 22-inch wheels on the Sensory trim. The QX80 does not feel like its curb weight of 5,813 pounds, which I also believe is due to the suspension system and 51/49 front-to-rear weight distribution. When I tested the vehicle, that stretch of road had high wind warnings, and the QX80 handled it well considering its size. Overall, I felt the QX80 was a 5 out of 10 for performance given the towing capacity and part of the dying breed of large V8 SUVs.

Practicality: 8/10

Being a large luxury SUV, the QX80 offers an impressive cargo capacity, if you have the third-row seats down. With the third-row seats up, you only have room for 16.6 cubic feet of interior cargo volume. For comparison, the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class is five inches shorter, but it has close to one cubic foot more cargo space with its third-row up. 

The QX80 also features power folding third-row seats, which can be done by pressing a set of buttons in three separate places – the cargo area, aft of the second-row seats next to the third-row cup holders, and to the left of the steering wheel. I think this is a smart idea depending on where you are loading your cargo and do not have to walk around the vehicle.

Comfort: 6/10

The QX80 Sensory boasts a standard seating capacity for 7 in a 2-2-3 configuration with captain’s chairs in the second row. A buyer can opt for a second-row split bench seat, expanding seating capacity to 8. Climate-controlled front seats are adorned in either Nappa or semi-aniline seats depending on the trim you select. The diamond-line quilted pattern gives an aura of luxury for the first and second row occupants. When you close the door, you are met with a grab handle that has very thin leatherette material wrapping it, and you can feel the hard plastic underneath, which is not becoming of a luxury vehicle in this class and yet again shows the aging platform the QX80 is based on. Climbing into the second row and sitting down, you found yourself at the same level as the front seat passengers. I personally think INFINITI should look at stadium-style seating, so regardless of row, the occupant can have a commanding view out of the car.

At this price-point and to be competitive in its class, I expected the QX80 to have power adjustable head restraints, illuminated steering wheel buttons, and further seat adjustments. However, this car has manual head restraints, which I found out after trying to lower the headrest. Also, the front seats could have used power thigh extensions, like found on other SUVs in this segment. I was surprised to find the steering wheel controls were not illuminated, which made it difficult to figure what I was pressing at night. For a close to $90,000 price-tag, these options should be considered as non-starters. The QX80 lags behind its competition in overall comfort.

Technology: 6/10

The QX80 comes standard with a 12.3-inch, single infotainment display that houses audio, navigation, and connected services such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It is controlled by both physical buttons and the touch screen. The touch screen to switch between applications in Apple CarPlay is difficult to do when driving, as the screen is tilted away from the driver making it difficult to use. There is also a central command knob and buttons in the center console to access map, audio, and the 360-degree camera system. Below the infotainment and climate controls is a wireless charger for your cell phone that is hidden behind a folding cover. The placement is nice that it does not take up space from the other storage compartments in the center console. Front passengers also have access to the lone USB-C charger in the vehicle, in addition to a standard USB charger. Second row passengers have access to two standard USB chargers, an AC 120V plug, and a 12V socket. An in-car Wi-Fi hotspot is standard. 

With the Sensory Trim, a Bose® Performance Series 17-speaker audio system is standard. The Bose® system is a decent system, but it pales in comparison to the Burmeister system found in Mercedes-Benz products or the Bowers and Wilkins system found in BMWs and Volvos. Music came across clear and would suffice for the average driver, but I did not find myself immersed into a symphonic state like the Burmeister system. The QX80 has a host of technology expected to be found in any modern car, which does not make it stand out in its class.

Connected Services: 7/10

Highlighted in the technology section above, I found the connected services to be alright. It took two tries to connect my iPhone wirelessly to set up Apple CarPlay. I found better connectivity using my USB cord. Navigation is standard on the QX80, and you receive a complimentary 5-year subscription to premium traffic and MapCare. Though I prefer to use Waze, I find built-in navigation helpful in more remote areas this QX80 could take you. Available on the QX80 is INFINITI INTOUCH Services, which include remote door lock/unlock, alarm trigger notifications, and MapCare for five years. Buyers receive a 12-month complimentary INTOUCH Services for automatic collision notification, connection to roadside assistance, drive zone alert, and curfew alert. 24/7 Nissan Concierge service and remote start/stop is available for an additional $8 a month. I would think this would be included in a complimentary 12-month subscription. I think INFINITI would offer a strong value if they expanded their INTOUCH Services for longer than 12-months for a larger suite of services.

Active Safety: 7/10

The INFINITI QX80 comes standard with a suite of active safety features, expected at this price point. The active safety features available on all QX80s include Intelligent Cruise Control, Backup Collision Intervention, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, and Blind Spot Warning and Intervention. The QX80 also features a Front and Rear Sonar parking system, Smart Rearview Mirror, and an Around View Monitor (360 camera system) with moving object detection. You also receive a rear seat reminder system that will alert you in the gauge cluster and by honking the horn if you had opened the back door to place a passenger, pet, or item and do not retrieve it. I think this is a wonderful safety feature for busy parents to remind them of their precious cargo. 

I tested the Intelligent Cruise Control and found it to be in line with previous generation radar-based cruise control systems. It handled moderate traffic well on the interstate, but I did not test to see if it could handle stop-and-go traffic, though it is advertised to handle full-speed range. I prefer to modulate the brakes when coming up on stopped traffic. The Blind Spot Monitor is the same system on other INFINITI products, which I wish it was placed higher up to be more visible to the driver.

Value: 6/10

The INFINITI QX80 Sensory 4WD offers many standard features as part of the Sensory trim. However, it misses the mark as a value option in this class, as all of its competition has been redesigned once, if not twice, since it made its debut in 2011. The QX80 tries to keep up with the Joneses with semi-aniline seats, standard active safety features, towing capacity, and connected services. It can eat up highway miles while drinking gasoline, though the typical buyer would use it for hauling weekend toys and children in the suburbs. The price of the Sensory would be a bargain if it was substantially less and could undercut it’s competition.

Editors Influence: 6/10

I find the INFINITI QX80 a car that has become long on the tooth. We had a QX80 as a rental car on a family trip a few years ago, and my parents enjoyed the large interior space and commanding road presence, though it is difficult to maneuver in small parking lots and less-than-expected cargo capacity with the third row used. 

Fast forward to now, and I see why my parents enjoyed it. It has great visibility out of the vehicle due to its angular design, and it provides enough space between rows of seats for your passengers. However, it is not as fuel efficient as its competition and quenched its thirst often with the recommended premium fuel. The semi-aniline seats look very comfortable, but I found them to be not as supportive on a longer drive. Also, at this price-point, I expect massage seats and a multitude of seat adjustments to be standard fare. While researching this review, I found the QX80 has had steady sales since its debut in 2011. As the title states, I see this vehicle fitting into the suburbs, especially if that suburb has wide roads and extra-large parking spots. I think INFINITI has a great product that it needs to completely redesign to make it competitive again in the large luxury SUV segment.

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The winner of the “coolest car” in high school because he drove a Volvo XC90, Jeff has been a car enthusiast from taking his first ride in a white Volvo 240 coming home after being born. From a very young age, he enjoyed spending time sitting in the front yard with his dad naming the make and model of each car that drove by or spending time lining up his 300+ Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, which are still sitting on shelves his grandpa made for them. He is affectionately known as a “car nut” by family and friends and routinely provides them car advice, though he does interject why they should consider a Volvo. Currently in his garage are his dream cars – a 2005 Volvo XC70 station wagon and a 2012 Mercedes-Benz E550 4matic sedan.
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