When the 2018 Infiniti QX80 showed up in my driveway, I was dismayed. It was massive, despite a major redesign. It was a solid chunk of full-size white SUV that looked too much like the white cube also in my driveway—the POD holding half of my belongings during a major house renovation. I do not like massive SUVs. I was determined to hate this thing.

Surprise 1: On-Street Parking

The first time I drove the QX80, I was in a foul mood. I had to go to a business dinner after spending a day straightening out the house renovation situation. I had to be sparkly and sociable. And I had to test drive this POD of an SUV to get there.

I climbed—literally climbed, using the running board and handle—into the driver’s seat. At least there was a seat heater. Oh, and a steering wheel heater. And, thank god, Sirius XM. And the infotainment controls were easy to use. Fine.

I had to park at the restaurant, which does not have its own parking lot. I drove around a bit until I found a large enough space at the curb. Did I dare try to park this behemoth there? Sure. Why the hell not. I checked my rearview mirror; there was traffic headed my way about two blocks behind me. This was going to be a disaster.

Except it wasn’t. Infiniti’s surround-view cameras are brilliant. I pulled in perfectly, first try, close to the curb, without slowing the traffic coming up in my lane one bit. I went to dinner and told everyone I talked to about how great it was.

Surprise 2: Easy ADAS

The next day, I had to drive the Infiniti QX80 to another work event. In the daytime, I could see all of the controls for advanced driver assistance systems on the steering wheel, so I used them. I could set the radar cruise control and follow distance with my thumb, and turn lane keep assistance on and off with a button.

Unlike some systems, the Infiniti will work all the way down to zero mph and then take you back up to your cruising speed—or as near to cruising as it can safely get. The day I first tried it, it was drizzly and gray. A work truck cut into my lane, spraying mist from its exposed rear tires. It was no problem for the QX80, which slowed down appropriately then sped up when the truck did.

Surprise 3: A Truck for Better or Worse

Not that everything was ideal. The Infiniti QX80’s acceleration is truck-like—you feel it and hear it when you accelerate to pass another car. It’s very similar to driving my brother’s Nissan Titan pickup, which makes sense. They have the same 5.6-liter V8 engine.

The interior of my test vehicle was lovely and leathery, and there were screens embedded in the headrests for the rear seat occupants to watch. These amenities can be found in upscale pickups as well.

The surprise was in the QX80s actual utility. Thanks to its luxury SUV qualities, I was able to fold down the rear seats with the push of a button. Thanks to those truck-like qualities, I was then able to haul a load of bamboo flooring home. It handled like a couple hundred pounds loaded in the rear was nothing all the way home.

All seats down in the Infiniti QX80
All seats down in the Infiniti QX80

Good If You’ve Got the Room

The 2018 Infiniti QX80 is still a beast of a machine. It will take up a lot of real estate in your garage or driveway. It is not a great city vehicle; narrow streets are its nemesis, even if it can parallel park like a champ. Fuel economy is as terrible as you probably expect, at a combined 15 mpg. This is not a cheap vehicle to use.

There are those, though, who need seven seats, a truck engine, and a very nice leather interior. My test vehicle also had true four-wheel drive, with a computer-controlled transfer case. For people who live in snowy, rural areas and need a very nice vehicle for trips to town, the QX80 will do everything you need.

All that utility comes at a price. The 2018 Infiniti QX80 starts at just under $68,000. My test vehicle had all the bells and whistles, including the $2,900 driver assistance package. The bottom line: $83,195.

But if all that adds up to a devoted hater of full-size SUVs enjoying my time in the Infiniti QX80, then it’s probably worth it if you can afford it.


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