2018 Infiniti QX80 first drive review: age is more than a number Page 3

The QX80's ride and handling dynamics will also satisfy. Even though this is a traditional body-on-frame SUV, it doesn't suffer from the poor secondary ride characteristics or the detached reactionary behavior common in this design. Infiniti softened the dampers at all four corners by 30 percent, while the double-wishbone front and rear suspension rides on Bridgestone tires with softer sidewalls. The result is almost too much comfort. On undulating roads in the South Carolina countryside, there was too much vertical motion, giving the QX80 a disconnected feel. I didn't notice this sensation as much in Charleston, where more traditional road imperfections replaced the subtle rise and fall of the tarmac. On those bigger bumps and potholes, the QX80 responds well, isolating both driver and passenger from the worst sensations.

That said, the QX80 is not an agile car. It's extremely wide and difficult to place on the road, and while Infiniti's Hydraulic Body Motion Control does a fantastic job of keeping the body flat through the corners, it doesn't free this big truck from the laws of physics. Softening the dampers has also created more dive under hard braking and squat under wide-open throttle. But despite its size, Infiniti has honed in on a good steering setup—there's a right-sized dead zone on center, which feels suitable for a vehicle this big. Likewise, the way the steering weights up is what I'd expect from a full-size three-rower.

Prices for the 2018 Infiniti QX80 start at $65,745 for the two-wheel-drive model, including a mandatory $995 destination charge. All-wheel drive adds a hefty $3,100 to that price. The $2,900 Driver Assistance Package is a smart buy, adding forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, front and rear automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warnings with active lane control, and Infiniti's Distance Control Assist system. The Theater Package costs $2,450 and adds a pair of 8.0-inch displays to the back of the front headrests, an extra USB outlet, an HDMI port, a 120-volt outlet, heated, outboard second-row seats, and a pair of wireless headphones. A $5,700 Deluxe Technology Package requires both of those packages plus a $2,800 22-inch wheel package, but adds ventilated front seats, Hydraulic Body Motion Control, active front lights, a rear-view mirror camera, the semi-aniline upholstery, and a 15-speaker Bose audio system. An eight-passenger seating option costs $250 while a wifi hotspot drives the price up $450. Grab every feature, and the QX80 can crest $80,000.

It's difficult to recommend the 2018 Infiniti QX80, not because it's a bad vehicle but because it's in the unenviable position of being surrounded by newer, roomier competitors that offer more power, comfort, and technology. That's an inevitable fate for most vehicles, but it's rare that it happens the year of a mid-cycle update. The 2018 QX80 deserved a redesign, but as good as this update is, it's going to spend the next several years playing second-fiddle to newer competition.

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