You might assume that the interior of the 2022 Infiniti QX80 is filled with outdated technology from when it was launched here about 10 years ago, but that’s not quite true. You see, despite the rest of the car being carried over from the previous model year, the model year 2022 QX80 enjoys a refreshed interior.
While this interior has been updated, there’s no need to get overly excited. Nissan revamped the Armada mid-cycle last year, and the QX80 essentially gets all of its new bits straight from the Nissan. We’ve already tested the Armada, so we had an idea of what to expect when the refreshed QX80 landed on our doorstep.
Thankfully, for Infiniti’s sake, the Armada’s new interior is nice enough that it’s largely acceptable in the more luxurious QX80. It features a new high-resolution touchscreen, flashy plastics, a simple layout and vital tech like a wireless phone charger, USB-C port and wireless Apple CarPlay – unfortunately Android Auto remains a wired affair.
The new look of this tall and massive center console doesn’t perfectly match the smooth, rounded interior design of the QX80, but that’s what you get when part of the interior is updated and the rest is carried over. Straight, powerful lines dominate the center console, complemented by rectangular vents. Meanwhile, round wood trim flows in a shocking way from this brutalist center console, making the interior look as if two different designers worked on it separately and then combined their work.
Functionally, the new parts of the interior are fine. The new single touchscreen and assistive UI is a welcome update to the old dual-screen infotainment system still found in other Infinitis (it had only just received that system before 2020). Its large width-oriented and higher-mounted for easy viewing, plus the presence of auxiliary physical buttons and knobs make vital controls easy to use and adjust. The strange storage compartment in the dashboard houses the wireless phone charger and the 12V socket is hidden in it. We enjoyed having a wireless phone charger, but it didn’t charge our phones quickly, and the movement of the phone on the mat sometimes prevented it from charging at all. Surprisingly, the QX80 comes equipped with a rear-view mirror with a camera, which was a nice surprise to see. With people in all rows and the third row head restraints up, rear visibility is greatly improved by this feature.
The black wood trim used in our test car looked nice, but putting the rim on the handlebars is a bad move. It’s way too slippery (especially in the cold), and we’d rather have the leather feel around the entire rim. This wheel is also the old style of Infiniti’s wheel, meaning the buttons are hard to reach with your fingers, making basic functions like changing the volume from the wheel cumbersome. It’s easier to just reach out and turn the knob on the dash.
Another technology that could use a major overhaul is the instrument panel, which is part analog, part digital. It’s the same as before, and it just looks old. If you value simplicity in a cluster, it’s acceptable, but it’s not aesthetically pleasing, nor is it remotely competitive when it comes to features and breadth of functionality. Other luxury SUVs at this price point come with configurable all-digital clusters.
The seating position creates a strange conundrum. Taller people will be fine, but anyone shorter than average may be in for an awkward time. The seats themselves sit so high that even in the lowest position your elbows don’t comfortably reach the armrests. It’s a strange and rather unpleasant quirk of this SUV, so be sure to get in and drive it to see if the position works for you before buying.
The padded seats themselves are some of the flattest, widest thrones we’ve ever sat on, and they look really nice in this dark brown color with black contrasting trim. Our test car was equipped with the captain’s seats in the second row, separated by a large center console. Storage is acceptable here with a relatively deep cubby. You also get USB sockets, heated seats (but not cooled) and your own climate zone.
What is much less acceptable is the small and awkward third row. The floor height rises dramatically there and the result is a brutal knees-in-the-face experience for adults and teens. It would be fine to let kids ride on the way back, but no adult will feel comfortable after a minute or two. This experience is bad enough in a vacuum, but when you compare it to other luxury three-row SUVs, it’s just downright bad. All full-size American SUVs allow you to ride comfortably in that third row, so tilt your groceries that way if you need the extra utility.
Ultimately, Infiniti just needs to completely redesign the QX80 to make it more competitive in this fraught segment of full-size luxury SUVs. Now that the Lexus LX 600 is finally new again, the QX80 is the last one still hanging around in a bygone era. This small refresh of technology and center console keeps it relevant for a short period of time, but it largely only serves as a reminder that the rest of the SUV needs the same amount of attention, and it did yesterday.