By Peter Perrotta
In sheer size alone the 2021 Infiniti QX 80 should be crowned “King of the Road”.
When I see vehicles this large, I usually quip to whoever is within ear shot at the time, “Geez, that looks like a house on wheels.”
Well folks, for 2021, Infiniti has introduced a new trim line to the QX 80 offerings, the top-of-the-line Sensory AWD. I was fortunate enough to jump behind the wheel of the new Sensory AWD QX 80 recently for a one week test drive and if you are going to label this full sized luxury SUV a house on wheels, it’s one very opulent house.
“A new Sensory grade sits at the top of the revised QX80 line up,” says a release from Infiniti. “Occupants will experience a sumptuous cabin featuring quilted semi-aniline leather appointed seats, and charcoal burl wood trim and a new graphite tricot headliner.”
Moreover, the exterior now features 22-inch forged alloy wheels, chrome mirror caps. A new hydraulic motion control suspension system was also added to provide a smoother, more stable ride.
The results are indeed impressive for this massive SUV, first introduced by Infiniti back in 2004.
I not only drove the QX 80 around town – to and from work and such – for one week, but I also took it on a 240-mile roundtrip sojourn out to Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, to display my wares at a sports card show.
The ride out to Camp Hill and back was extremely comfortable and pleasant. The cabin is not only opulent but roomy and comfortable as well. The QX 80, powered by a large 5.6 liter naturally aspirated V8 that puts out 400 horsepower is more than adequately powered.
This engine roars, providing easy passing and lane changing capabilities, and once you get all the way over to command the left lane on the Pennsylvania Turnpike it cruises at high speeds quite nicely as well.
However, all this bigness and opulence comes at a price. The new Sensory model QX 80 is not cheap and neither is it gas consumption efficient – this isn’t your typical tree hugger ride.
The EPA’s fuel consumption ratings for the QX 80 come in at an average of 15 miles per gallon – with 19 mpg on highway driving and 13 mpg in around town or city driving.
Moreover, the EPA estimates that on average it will cost you about $3,250 a year to feed the QX 80 with gas as it uses about 6.7 gallons per every 100 miles driven.
The base price of the Sensory model QX 80 is $83,300. My test model had added options as well and when you tack on the $1,395 destination and delivery charge the bottom line sticker price comes in at a hefty $87,035.
The added options on my test vehicle included: $485 for Infiniti illuminated kick plates; $410 for roof rail cross bars; $295 for a cargo package; $455 for Infiniti illuminated welcome lighting and $695 for the Coulis Red premium exterior paint.
So the question at this point remains, is while the new Sensory top-of-the-line QX 80 is certainly luxurious and rich, the price point it is now offered at pushes it into the company of some pretty hefty competitors – namely the popular BMW X7 or the equally as popular Mercedes Benz GLS.
In summarizing its review of the QX 80, the editors at Car and Driver gave it high marks for, “handsome styling, standard V8 power, plush and spacious cabin.”
However, for low points, Car and Driver pointed out that the QX 80 “seems outdated compared to rivals.”
I tend to agree, but not wholeheartedly.
The German-made X7 and GLS have gone to smaller, more state-of-the-art engines that make up for the downsizing by adding a turbo charger or an electric battery EQ boost to give them more pep and better gas mileage.
Additionally, inside the cabins, the German X7 and GLS seem to be a bit ahead of Infiniti when it comes to providing the latest infotainment and wide touch screen command center.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the operational functionality of Infiniti’s system, it just seems a bit dated with comparing it to what you get inside the X7 or GLS.
However, all that being said, there is still room for the new Sensory model QX 80 if you are considering a full sized luxury SUV.
There is a distinct difference in the way that the German made X7 and GLS feel and drive when compared to the Japanese made Infiniti.
The Infiniti offers a smoother, more air-like ride. With the German models you get a stiffer, more performance-oriented ride.
Is one better than the other?
Who is to say?
The true test is in the eye of the beholder. You have to get in and test drive these models and see for yourself which is more to your liking.
In case your were wondering just how big the QX 80 is, according to Infiniti’s spec sheet this vehicle has a wheelbase 121.1 inches, an overall length of 210.2 inches, a width of 79.9 inches and stands 75.8 inches high.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. For comments and questions he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org