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First Drive: 2025 Infiniti QX80 – the Flagship the Brand Needs

by | June 24, 2024

As it enters its 35th year in the luxury market, Infiniti is searching for the product that can provide a halo, helping it stand out from competing marques from Japan, Europe and the U.S. As we discovered during a visit to California’s lush Napa Valley wine country, the new flagship, the 2025 Infiniti QX80, may be just what’s needed.

2025 Infiniti QX80 - front 3-4 by lake

The 2025 model year brings the first complete makeover of the Infiniti QX80 since 2010.

Nissan’s luxury arm is on a mission. In the 35 years since it made its debut it’s had a fair share of solid products, but none have stood out like the original Q45 sedan. And that helps explain why Infiniti has never been able to crack into the top tier of luxury brands like rival Toyota’s Lexus.

Of course, the automotive world has changed dramatically over those three-and-a-half decades. Sedans are largely an afterthought these days. That’s why Infiniti is betting big on the new QX80 to fill the gap in its line-up and serve as its much-needed flagship.

The 2025 Infiniti QX80 is a distinctively styled 3-row SUV that delivers plenty of room, lavishly executed details, plenty of power and an array of impressive high-tech features. But can it put a halo around the Japanese brand? That’s what I intended to find out during a long day of driving through California wine country.

Starting from the ground up

2025 Infiniti QX80 - rear 3-4 in vineyard

A 2-tone package is optional.

Infiniti spent months teasing the imminent arrival of the QX80 – which finally made its debut at the New York Auto Show last March. What we got to see was a 3-row SUV that is new from the ground up.

That’s welcome news considering the outgoing model last had a complete makeover in 2010 and has undergone relative minor tweaks in the intervening years.

The 2025 QX80 shares the basic body-on-frame platform with the next-generation Nissan Patrol, though the Infiniti package gets a number of welcome upgrades, such as its electronically adjustable air suspension. There’s a new engine, a new interior, and lots of digital features – from an assortment of smart safety technology to a Klipsch reference audio system that will make the most sophisticated audiophiles jealous.

A standout design

2025 Infiniti QX80 - nose-on

A grille inspired by a Japanese bamboo forest, a 3D grille and “piano key” headlamps.

You’ll know this isn’t just another “midcycle refresh” the moment you see the 2025 QX80 approaching in your rearview mirror. The goal was to create “a very daring approach,” explained Taisuke Nakamura, Infiniti’s chief designer, during a walkaround ahead of my first drive.

That’s not just marketing-speak. Up front, the new SUV features an elegantly patterned grille meant to reflect the look of a bamboo forest Nakamura explained. And it features a new, 3D take on the familiar Infiniti logo, as well as 9-segment LED “piano key” headlamps.

The upright grille tapers off into a tall hood which emphasizes the power underneath. A profile view reveals an unbroken nose-to-tail beltline, compound curves in the rear doors, and dramatic wheel arches that, on the topline QX80 Autograph package I drove, frame 22-inch diamond-cut wheels.

The new QX80 also adds some aerodynamic details, including pop-out door handles and a high-mounted rear spoiler. Completing the package is a multi-hued rear light bar and brushed chrome plates atop the rear bumper.

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A lavish interior

2025 Infiniti QX80 - interior

Multiple screens dominate the interior layout, though the QX80 adds lavish appointments, including wood veneer with metal inlays.

As distinctive as the exterior design may be, it’s the QX80’s cabin that really stands out. The layout can be described in Japanese as “miyabi,” a layered, flowing approach that melds into a delightfully harmonious whole. There are hand-stitched leathers and – one of my favorites elements – wood veneer with inlaid metal accents.

There are the requisite technological elements, starting with twin 14.3-inch digital displays atop the instrument panel. Both can be reconfigured in a variety of ways. A third, 9-inch touchscreen resides just below the infotainment display and controls functions such as the SUV’s climate control. While some folks might prefer conventional knobs and switches, haptic feeback helps make it easier to be sure you’ve accurately set the temperature or the fan speed. Add a head-up display and variable ambient lighting.

2025 Infiniti QX80 - cargo bay empty

The 2025 QX80 offers plenty of cargo space with the second and third rows folded down.

Infiniti QX80 passengers get plenty of room, whichever row they’re in – and should be pleased to discover that there are separate climate controls for all three rows. There’s a reasonable amount of cargo space even with all seat occupied. But the cargo bay becomes positively cavernous with the center and rear row folded down to create a flat load floor. You can do that using power controls right next to the tailgate.

New powertrain

One of the big surprises with the 2025 Infiniti QX80 is the lack of a V-8. I didn’t miss it.

The new 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 pumps out 450 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That’s up 50 hp and 103 lb-ft compared to the outgoing SUV. The new engine is paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission and buyers have a choice of either rear- or all-wheel-drive. Motorists can choose between Standard, Eco, Sport, Snow and Tow drive modes, or customize settings in a Personal mode.

The drivetrain has enough grunt to tow up to 8,500 pounds.

The numbers I found less impressive: fuel economy of just 15 mpg city, 19 highway and 17 combined with the all-wheel-drive package, according to the EPA. Add 1 mpg to each of those numbers for rear-drive models. That is about 20% better than the outgoing QX80 but still short of what I’d hoped to see.

2025 Infiniti QX80 - driving front 3-4 in vineyard

Wandering through Napa Valley in the new QX80.

Driving impressions

Unburdened, I found the drivetrain more than capable of delivering confidence-inspiring power, whether weaving around winding Napa Valley roadways or making a high-speed pass on US 101. That power was matched by a pleasingly resonant exhaust note.

Napa was a great place to check out the new QX80, providing a variety of different driving situations – and road conditions. Under most circumstances the SUV lived up to my lofty expectations. Steering was precise and offered plenty of feedback.

The QX80 handled as well as one might have hoped for, with relatively modest body roll and the ability to smoothly weave around corners – with the caveat that this is a big vehicle and one using a body-on-frame platform. The emphasis is on “utility,” rather than “sport.”

2025 Infiniti QX80 - rear 3-4 by lake

Four trim packages are available, along with the choice of rear or all-wheel-drive on the base Pure and Luxe models. The Sensory and Autograph trims are AWD only.

The air suspension was pleasantly adept at soaking up most of the bumps, however. And it automatically adjusts its height, rising to cope with off-road situations, or dropping down more than an inch to improve aerodynamics at higher speeds. It also dips down 2.8 inches to allow passengers to climb in or out.

There was only one situation which caught me by surprise: a short stretch of pavement near our hotel that caused the suspension to jounce, almost pogo-like, at low speeds. The Infiniti engineer I spoke to later said they were aware of the issue and believe it’s a software problem they’re addressing. My test vehicle was a pre-production prototype and the automaker expects to have the issue fixed – I was promised – before the first QX80 reaches showrooms.

Tech touches

QX80’s technology goes far beyond the multiple screens it offers. But those digital displays play an essential role, among other things allowing the automaker to provide multiple camera views, including one functionally allowing a driver to “see” through the hood. This is particularly useful, whether dealing with curbs or off-road obstacles.

2025 Infiniti QX80 - twin screens

The 2025 Infiniti QX80 features twin 14.3-inch screens and a smaller 9-inch display to control climate settings.

The climate system includes seats that help the QX80 set the right temperature based on individual passengers.

My favorite feature, though, is the Klipsch Reference Premier audio system, with its 1,200 watts powering 24 speakers. That includes individual speakers in headrests, making it seem like every seat is in the sweet spot for perfect audio. A nice touch is the way the QX80 equipped with the Klipsch system handles phone calls. They can be set to only be heard on the driver’s headrest speakers so passengers can continue to enjoy their music.

Wireless versions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is an onboard wireless charger. The QX80 uses the latest Google built-in for moving an infotainment. It can operate the Google Home smart technologies but it lacks an Amazon Alexa feature.


2025 Infiniti QX80 - front 3-4 at resort

Pricing runs from $82,450 to $110,595 – plus $1,995 for delivery.

It wouldn’t take much for the 2025 Infiniti QX80 to seem a major upgrade from the old and very dated model it replaces. The good news is that it’s a solid competitor to other, much newer products now on the market.

Whether it’s as dramatic a breakthrough as the original Q45 will likely prove a matter of debate. But the new Infiniti SUV has clearly moved in the right direction and should draw the attention of a lot of new customers.

That said, it doesn’t come cheap. The base “Pure” package starts at $82,450 with the rear-wheel-drive configuration; all-wheel-drive jumping to $85,550. At the upper end, the 2025 Infiniti QX80 comes only in AWD and starts at $110,595, though there aren’t many options to check. Add $1,995 to these numbers for delivery.

Look for the 2025 Infiniti QX80 to reach U.S. showrooms later this summer.


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