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

The 2018 Infiniti QX80 is a frustrating vehicle. It’s (finally) attractive. There’s a charming powertrain moving it along. And this big truck does luxury well, with beautiful leatherwork and a quiet cabin. But these attributes aren’t enough to to overshadow the QX80’s age.

At the very least, Infiniti’s reskinning of the QX80 has been a success. In a bid to address the most egregious styling decisions of last year’s QX80, Infiniti’s designers figured it was easier to just restyle everything from the A-pillar forward. That means new quarter panels, a new hood, a more attractive grille, revised headlights clearly inspired by the lovely QX80 Monograph concept, and a new front bumper.

The 2018 model still has last year’s model’s underbite, but some design orthodontia means it’s less severe. The restyled rear bumper sits beneath a new tailgate that includes stylish new LED taillights, which once again draw inspiration from the Monograph.

There are still some bizarre styling decisions here, though. The side grilles, for example, serve no real purpose. But with a new design, they look more like a factory item and less like a 99-cent AutoZone special. The mirrors are oddly shaped, unsuccessfully melding the vertical nature of a Ford Super Duty’s side-viewers with the design aesthetic of a car’s mirrors. The designers made at least one thoughtful touch—the standard sidesteps are now larger, allowing easier ingress and egress.

The QX80 looks better inside than out. Even for an older design, Infiniti’s leather work is worth praising. Beautiful quilted upholstery envelops the seats while Infiniti’s wave-form stitching adorns the door panels. This touch is a winner—the wave stitching is the kind of useless design flourish that reminds both driver and passenger that they’re riding in a luxury vehicle.

The leather and stitching isn’t just beautiful, it’s soft and pleasant too. The semi-aniline hides also wear a stain resistant coating that Infiniti says will prevent denim-wearing drivers and passengers from staining the lighter leather options (and will likely be a boon to parents worried about small children ruining the cabin with juice boxes). Dark wood trim complements the leather and stitching, although Infiniti could be more liberal with the distribution.

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