Oh hey, it’s our first Infiniti review! I went into this one a little apprehensive, given I was using the 2023 Infiniti QX80 for a long towing journey to Virginia International Raceway and its Nissan Armada sibling had been only fine with the same trailer in 2021. But, there’s one key difference between the Armada and QX80 that helped make the journey that much easier.
Despite being an established model for quite some time, the Infiniti QX80 is only in its second generation. Launched in 2011, the current-gen QX80 has been facelifted several times, most recently in 2022. Essentially a Nissan Patrol from overseas, Infiniti throws on a suit and tie to turn a rugged off-roader into a capable luxotruck. It’s a good formula for some buyers, one that Toyota’s used before when making the Lexus LX. Seat six or seven people, have some real off-road capability, and tow a relatively heavy trailer all in luxury and comfort – neato.
Every 2023 Infiniti QX80 is powered by the same engine, the corporate Nissan/Infiniti 5.6-liter V8 that we’ve seen in the Armada and Titan, and a few sedans from years earlier. Here it makes 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque, routed through a seven-speed automatic. My tester was equipped with all-wheel drive, though you can get a rear-drive QX80 if you don’t need the capability.
Towing is, on paper, a strong suit of the QX80. Infiniti rates every trim level to tow the same 8,500 pounds with 10 percent tongue weight. Payload of my loaded QX80 Sensory was an indicated 1,300 pounds, pretty average for a vehicle like this.
Where Infiniti differs from Nissan and their Armada, the QX80’s twin, is in the suspension setup. The QX80 receives the same load-leveling rear suspension as the Armada, but adds Hydraulic Body Motion Control to help combat lean in corners by way of cross-linked shock absorbers.
Towing with the 2023 Infiniti QX80
When I drove the Nissan Armada in 2021, I liked how it drove unloaded, but thought the body control with my 20-foot enclosed trailer attached was subpar. My thought was that the Armada’s off-road roots lead to a too-soft suspension and thus too much movement when 7,000 pounds of trailer was plopped on the hitch.
The QX80 is similarly soft, and thus comfortable unloaded, but the addition of Hydraulic Body Motion Control made a marked difference in how it behaved with the same trailer attached. I had far more confidence through corners and while passing semis and other large trucks than I did in the Nissan.
Infiniti’s engine is a typical naturally-aspirated V8, and I like it a good bit. Power really comes on around 3,000 rpm and remains strong all the way to redline. I’m just spoiled, because I’ve towed with a lot of forced-induction rigs in recent years and boost makes acceleration from a stop that much easier. But, the 5.6 sounds great working away and doesn’t struggle with a trailer.
The seven-speed automatic has plenty of ratios, though I found some of the gears to be a bit long while towing. As I towed and built heat in the transmission fluid, some downshifts were a bit rough. Infiniti’s automatic downshifts, which come on downhill grades in Tow Mode, were among the best and “smartest” I’ve experienced, allowing engine braking to help slow the rig with ease.
Braking was also strong, though Infiniti leaves buyers with a bit of a head-scratcher compared to the Nissan Armada. Nissan will include a trailer brake controller on most trims of Armada. Infiniti uses the same center dashboard layout on the QX80, and does not offer that brake controller at all. There’s a blanked-out plastic spot where the controller should be. I used a Tekonsha Prodigy RF to handle trailer brakes on my journey, but the fact that the more-expensive Infiniti doesn’t even offer a brake controller, despite clearly being set up to accept one, is strange.
The 2023 Infiniti QX80 vs Its Competition
It’s easy to dismiss the QX80 – it’s technically pretty old, it’s not great on fuel, it doesn’t have forced induction, and its driver assistance tech is not class-leading. Admittedly, I dismissed the poor thing before it even showed up. Over a week, though, it grew on me quite a bit.
Infiniti updating the center stack to the latest single-screen design cleaned up both the design and technology of the QX80. They added wireless CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s a wireless phone charger. It’s all enough to feel modern while still appealing to folks who want a simpler vehicle overall.
The drivetrain is good, I think the styling will continue to age well, and there is an element of old-school to this 2023 model year vehicle that absolutely appeals to some of us. It sounds silly, but the belt line is low enough to properly hang your elbow out of a lowered driver’s window.
I haven’t mentioned price yet, so here goes. The loaded QX80 Sensory I drove came in at $91,580. That’s a lot of money for an SUV first introduced halfway through Obama’s first term. However… it’s eighteen thousand dollars (!) cheaper than a new Lincoln Navigator. The gap between it and a new Escalade or LX 600 is about the same.
For those who are okay with a bit less tech and a simpler drivetrain, the 2023 Infiniti QX80 provides a good overall option with plenty of capability.