Big, bold. Too old? 2022 Infiniti QX80 premium SUV

2021 Infiniti QX80 Premium Select

by Chuck Giametta

What changes will make the 2022 Infiniti QX80 different?

Nothing significant as Infiniti’s flagship SUV sets course for an expected model-year-2024 redesign. Until then, this old-school SUV will continue with a V-8 engine, a choice of rear- and four-wheel drive (4WD), and a posh interior with seating for up to eight.

It will also remain one the oldest full-size premium SUVs. The QX80 is essentially a gilded version of the overseas-market 2010 Nissan Patrol, a rugged wagon from Infiniti’s parent company. After Toyota’s luxury Lexus brand launches the redesigned 2023 LX, the QX80 will be the segment’s undisputed elder – and none the better for it.

The ’22 QX80 will likely continue without a raft of features expected of any modern SUV, much less a premium-class entry. To line up with the likes of the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz GLS, and BMW X7 – all introduced or redesigned since model-year 2018 — it needs basics such as a hands-free power tailgate, panoramic moonroof, wireless phone charging, and semi-autonomous steering. Unfortunately, it’s not apt to get any of those before the 2024 redesign.

Should I wait for the 2022 Infiniti QX80 or buy a ‘21?

2021 QX80 Premium Select

Buy a ’21. The ’22 QX80 won’t change enough to wait for, but it’ll almost certainly cost more. An upside to its age is a base price around $70,000, lower than that of its younger rivals. None of the aforementioned, for example, start below $75,000 (all prices in this review include the manufacturers’ destination fees).

Like the lion’s share of its competitors, the ’22 QX80 will remain a traditional sport-utility vehicle. It’s built like a truck, with a separate chassis, rather than like a crossover SUV, with a car-type unified body and frame. Most drivers don’t need the heavy-duty capabilities of a true SUV. That helps explain the overwhelming popularity of crossovers, which are generally more space- and fuel-efficient, too. But the QX80’s V-8 torque, rear-wheel-drive-based handling, genuine four-wheel drive, and 8,500-pound towing capacity are an attribute mix mainstream crossovers can’t deliver.

Expect the 2022 QX80 model lineup to mirror that of the ’21: base Luxe, midline Premium Select, and top-drawer Sensory. For even more “value” in this same basic package, consider the 2022 Nissan Armada. It’s a slightly less-plush version of the QX80 with a base-price range around $49,900-$69,900.

Will 2022 Infiniti QX80 styling be different?

2021 QX80 Premium Select

There might be a new color choice or two but the ’22 QX80 should be a visual duplicate of the ’21. It’s a distinctive visage, aggressively proportioned and with just enough brightwork and interesting details.

All ’22 QX80s will again come with LED headlamps and LED foglamps, roof rails, and fixed-in-place running boards. Model-grade differentiation should remain subtle: exterior trim and mirrors finished in body color on the Luxe, in “dark chrome” on the Premium Select, and in bright chrome on the Sensory. The grille mesh on the Premium Select and Sensory should continue to match their trim finishes. Look for the Luxe to return with 20-inch alloy wheels, the Premium Select with “dark chrome” 22s, and the Sensory with polished ‘22s.

2021 QX80 Premium Select

The cabin’s blend of strong, upright shapes and arched contours is a little stale against the pronounced horizontal orientation of many competitors. Infiniti’s fighting father time when it comes to infotainment hardware, too.

The ’22 QX80 benefits from a model-year-’21 update that added a second dashboard touchscreen — a 7-inch display for audio- and vehicle-systems control slotted in beneath an 8-incher serving the standard imbedded navigation system. It’s a retrofit that emphasizes the tech gap between the QX80 and more contemporary competitors. The trend is to expansive landscape-format screens headlined by Escalade’s 38 combined inches of ultra-high-contrast curved OLED (organic light-emitting diode) panels.

More evidence of a cabin struggling to keep a decade-old design relevant: physical analog main gauges versus today’s de rigueur multi-configurable digital instrumentation, a heated-steering-wheel button exiled to the left of the driver’s knee, and a foot-pedal parking brake instead of a button-operated electric brake. We also believe a premium-segment SUV deserves genuine wood interior trim, not the glossy plastic found here.

2021 QX80

Still, there will be plenty to appreciate about the 2022 QX80’s interior. Extravagantly padded surfaces abound. Leather upholstery will remain standard, the Sensory’s upgraded to rich diamond-quilt semi-aniline. The center console’s two ensembles of burled-knob-controllers supplemented by buttons do their job admirably. One allows easy adjustment of navigation-map scale and menus, the other simple selection of drive modes. 

Passenger room and comfort decrease as you move rearward, revealing the ’22 QX80 as less roomy than its exterior bulk might suggest. This SUV will again be about three inches longer overall than an X7 or GLS, but some three inches shorter than an Escalade or Navigator – and more than a foot shorter than the extended-length Escalade ESV and Navigator L.

2021 QX80 Sensory

Seating for eight is standard, as is a 60/40 split third row that power-folds flat via cargo-bay buttons. Seven-passenger seating should return as a no-cost option via a pair of second-row captain’s chairs. They’re divided by a nicely padded console with two beverage holders and lots of storage space. Unfortunately, choosing the captain’s chairs sacrifices the seat-heat function included with the second-row bench.

2021 QX80 Premium Select with second-row captain’s chairs

Driver and front passenger get generously proportioned, heated power-adjustable buckets with power lumbar support. The Sensory adds front-seat ventilation. Second-row occupants get good but not exceptional space. Neither second-row configuration slides to adjust legroom. Their outboard sections are spring-loaded to quickly tip forward via a lever on the lower cushion; the Sensory adds a dashboard button for the same purpose.

2021 QX80 third-row seat

Still, access to the third row is extremely difficult, exacerbated by the same towering step-in height that makes climbing in and out of the other rows a chore. Once back there, third-row passengers are deprived of adult-worthy legroom or foot space. Head room is good, you can reach the power-fold buttons to recline the seatbacks, and large side windows curtail claustrophobia. But unlike its domestic-brand rivals or the GLS, the ’22 QX80 is best considered a five-seater with occasional accommodations for two or three additional little kids.

Cargo volume trails that of the Lincoln and Cadillac, too, although at 49.6 cubic feet behind the second row and 95.1 cubic feet aft of the front buckets, it’s still generous. Behind the third row, there’s room enough for a row of grocery bags. A power liftgate is standard, but Infiniti really ought to find a way to give it hand’s-free operation.     

Any 2022 Infiniti QX80 mechanical changes?

2021 QX80

No. The 2022 QX80 will continue with a 5.6-liter V-8 expected to remain at 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque (think of torque as the force that gets a vehicle moving, horsepower as the energy that keeps it moving).

A seven-speed automatic should remain the sole transmission and rear-wheel drive will remain standard. Infiniti’s All-Mode 4WD should remain an option, at around $3,100. It gives the driver a console controller that can set the system to automatically switch from rear-drive to 4WD based on available traction. It also provides locked-in 4WD “high” and 4WD “low” settings. The latter suits severe off-road conditions and teams with the QX80’s generous 9.2-inch ground clearance for impressive all-terrain grip. Snow and tow modes are provided, too.

2021 QX80

The ’22 QX80’s engine output will remain at the lower end of the spectrum for a full-size premium SUV. Rivals offer V-8s with more horsepower and even turbocharged sixes with more torque. Still, at around 7.1 seconds 0-60 mph, acceleration should again feel hearty, with good pull from most any speed. No steering-wheel paddle shifters are offered, but the driver can toggle upshifts and downshifts from a console-mounted transmission lever that slips easily into an adjacent gate.  

The ’22 QX80 will remain a companionable cruiser, helped by an all-independent suspension and standard rear automatic self-leveling that maintains an even keel with a full load of passengers or cargo. Confront a corner, though, and this tall, heavy SUV responds lazily, suffering noseplow if your arc is too sharp and copious body lean if your pace is remotely aggressive.

2021 QX80 Premium Select

The ’22 QX80 Sensory model should return with hydraulic body-motion control designed to minimize tilt in turns and vehicle-speed-sensitive steering intended to improve otherwise light, vague reactions to driver input.

On its 20-inch wheels and tires, the base Luxe model would again be the choice for ride quality befitting a high-end SUV. The 22s on the Premium Select and Sensory trims allow impacts from even small bumps or pavement seams to reverberate through the structure.

To be fair, much of the QX80s ride and handling behavior is part and parcel of the body-on-frame, full-size-SUV experience. But most every competitor steers and corners with better control and absorbs bad pavement with more aplomb.

Will 2022 Infiniti QX80 fuel economy improve?

2021 QX80

Unlikely, unfortunately. The 2022 QX80’s EPA ratings should mirror those of the 2021 model, pressing home another old-school-SUV reality: abysmal fuel economy.

Infiniti’s big rig is even worse than most, though. Expect the ’22 QX80 to again rate 14/20/16 mpg city/highway/combined with rear-wheel drive and 13/19/15 with 4WD.

The only direct competitor to rate lower — at 12/16/14 mpg — was the 2021 Lexus LX, which comes with 4WD standard. By comparison, the 4WD V-8 Escalade rated 14/19/16 and the 4WD twin-turbo V-6 Navigator rated 16/21/18. Expect Infiniti to again recommend premium 91-octane gas for the ’22 QX80.

Will the 2022 Infiniti QX80 have new features?

2021 QX80

Not unless Infiniti deems it technically feasible or competitively compelling to address some of the shortfalls we’ve already discussed. More likely is minor equipment shuffling among models.

Laudably, every ’22 QX80 will return with a good selection of standard safety features. These include autonomous emergency braking designed to automatically stop the SUV to mitigate a frontal collision with another vehicle, object, or pedestrian. Also included is blind-spot warning with automatic steering correction to avert lane changes into the path of another vehicle. So is rear cross-traffic detection with automatic braking.

Lane-maintaining automatic steering correction will again be standard, too, but in our tests, the system was so sensitive to lane markings we were compelled to turn it off. All ’22 QX80s will return with adaptive cruise control to maintain a set distance from traffic ahead. Unlike many rival systems, however, it doesn’t work in stop-and-go traffic. Another traffic-jam inconvenience is absence automatic brake hold to relieve the driver from maintaining pressure on the brake pedal to keep the SUV stationary.

On the upside, the rearview mirror usefully shows live, wide-angle video that “sees through” rear passengers or cargo that might otherwise obscure the view aft. 

In addition to features already mentioned, expect every 2022 QX80 again come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support (although only through a USB connection), automatic highbeam headlamps, and satellite radio.

Look for the ’22 Sensory grade to again build on the Premium Select model with steering-linked, automatic-leveling headlamps; second-row footwell courtesy lights; a Bose audio upgrade; and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with dual 8-inch front headrest monitors, a pair of wireless headphones, and an HDMI input jack.

Will 2022 Infiniti QX80 prices be different?

2021 QX80

Base prices are almost certain to increase, but against rivals that are more expensive to start and whose top-end models breach $100,000, the 2022 QX80 should again be more accessible than most full-size premium SUVs.  

Estimated base prices here include the manufacturer’s destination fee, which was $1,395 on the ’21 QX80. Expect the ’22 QX80 Luxe to start around $71,500 with rear-wheel drive and around $72,800 with 4WD. Estimated base prices for the ’22 QX80 Premium Select are $75,800 with rear-drive and $77,100 with 4WD. For the ’22 QX80 Sensory, they’re $82,600 and $83,900, respectively.

Look for Infiniti to again limit factory options to premium paint, at around $695 (for ’21, examples included Champagne Quartz and Coulis Red), and for the Premium Select and Sensory, illuminated kick plates, at $495.

When will the 2022 Infiniti QX80 come out?

2021 QX80

Expect a fall 2021 release date for the 2022 QX80.

Best 2022 Infiniti QX80 competitors

BMW X7, Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV, Lincoln Navigator and Navigator L, Jeep Grand Wagoneer, Range Rover, Lexus LX, Mercedes-Benz GLS  

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]