Infiniti updates its flagship with the gorgeous new QX80

After years of losing market share, Infiniti isn’t messing around with its new flagship

Way back in the early nineties, Infiniti was birthed with the likes of Acura and Lexus as Americans couldn’t understand Japanese luxury. Those words required a whole new brand to entice the US buyers into a new experience. Japan could do luxury, but we wouldn’t buy it with the names we knew. Nissan would stick to selling everyman’s experience, whereas Infiniti would sell you the upscale car of your dreams.

They first gave us the Q45, their first flagship. A massive boat of a Japanese car with a silky smooth V8, it was familiar to the luxury car-buying American who was raised on twenty-foot-long Cadillac coupes and sedans. As time marched on, SUVs took over the luxury market and Infiniti followed suit by adding some leather to their Armada with the QX56—named after the 5.6L V8 that lived under the hood. 

Plagued with noise, vibration, and harshness issues, the Armada was a tough sell later in its life, and it dragged down the QX56 with it. Nissan’s CEO scandal, years of selling bargain basement cars to the likes of rental companies, seemed to be digging a hole for Infiniti it could never climb out of…

And that’s where we are right now. Infiniti has some work to do. Their cars aren’t exactly selling like they used to in the mid-2000s. They’re a shell of the sales they used to have and the new QX80 is the first vehicle in their modern design language to right the ship, they’re calling “Artistry in Motion.”

Infiniti has gone back to its Japanese roots and decidedly used Ma, Utsuroi, and Kabuku to create a dignified flagship. The element Ma is the mastery of empty space. Instead of over-adoring the QX80, they gave the design ‘room to breathe’ and left the canvas empty. Utsuroi or the ‘beauty of a seamless transition’ was used in places such as the hood into the grill and the roof and pillars. Finally, the Kabuku element was used to surprise and delight, and Infiniti says you’ll see “expressed in every detail of the All-New QX80’s exterior.”

Now I don’t know about all of that… but it is a pretty car for sure. The massive front headlight bar and rear taillight bar are sweeping and intricate. The grill stands tall and although it was designed to look like a bamboo forest, all I see is an attractive grill. Under the hood, gone is the 400 horsepower V8, replaced with a twin-turbo V6 with 450 horsepower and a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The outgoing model seemed old because it was. This new QX80 has all the safety and tech features you’re used to seeing, especially in the $80,000 and up price bracket. There will be larger screens, automated safety features such as automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and even a trick exterior camera system.

Still based on the Patrol and made in Japan, look for the QX80 later this year with all the Klipsch audio, copious sound deadening, and beautiful lines. No doubt the design language will influence future Infiniti models. If only they’d give us a new four-door Nissan Z-based Infiniti with three pedals, then I’d be a very happy boy. 

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