Infiniti had more reasons to celebrate than just Canada Day on July 1, 2018, because extremely strong June sales resulted in the best month it has ever recorded.  The Japanese luxury brand increased…

Infiniti monthly sales in June were best ever in Canada

2018 Infiniti QX80
Infiniti’s largest QX80 SUV grew its sales by 13.7 percent in June. (Photo: Infiniti)

Infiniti had more reasons to celebrate than just Canada Day on July 1, 2018, because extremely strong June sales resulted in the best month it has ever recorded. 

The Japanese luxury brand increased nationwide deliveries to 1,398 units last month, which represents a 16.3-percent year-over-year increase as well as an all-time monthly sales record. 

As you might expect, sport utility vehicles were key to its success, with the brand’s largest QX80 growing its sales by 13.7 percent in June. 

2018 Infiniti QX60
Infiniti’s most popular QX60 mid-size luxury crossover achieved 567 sales in June, resulting in a new monthly record. (Photo: Infiniti)

Additionally, Infiniti’s most popular QX60 mid-size luxury crossover achieved 567 sales, this resulting in a new monthly record as well as 14.5 percent growth when compared to June 2017. 

June was also a big month for the QX50 compact luxury crossover, which arrived as a completely redesigned 2019 model halfway through the month and therefore benefited from 335 Canadian deliveries for its best June ever, not to mention 119 percent year-over-year growth. 

2019 Infiniti QX50
The all-new QX50 sold 335 units in its first half month for its best June ever, while also achieving 119 percent YoY growth. (Photo: Infiniti)

Even the discontinued QX70 crossover found traction in June, its sales rising by 19.1 percent, while the ever-popular Q50 sport-luxury sedan also received a bump in popularity, finding 2.3 percent more buyers than it did a year ago. 

The Q50 helped keep Infiniti’s car sales from sliding farther backward than the -2.5 percent slip they experienced in June, whereas SUV sales grew by a substantive 23.3 percent. 

That said Infiniti cars are the big winners so far this year, with 2018 year-to-date deliveries at the close of Q2 resulting in +9.2 percent compared to -8.5 for SUVs.

I’ve got a challenge for you. Take a 2018 Infiniti QX80 for a drive and then tell me why it’s not worth $20k more than the $77,350 they’re asking. My guess? You’ll soon be comparing it to full-size…

2018 Infiniti QX80 Road Test

2018 Infiniti QX80
Infiniti left few details alone when refreshing its 2018 QX80, and the result is one great looking full-size luxury SUV. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I’ve got a challenge for you. Take a 2018 Infiniti QX80 for a drive and then tell me why it’s not worth $20k more than the $77,350 they’re asking. My guess? You’ll soon be comparing it to full-size SUV rivals from Land Rover, Lexus, and even Mercedes-Benz. 

To put its price into perspective, I went onto CarCostCanada.com to size up competitive MSRPs and found out you can get into a well-equipped, impressively finished base model of the handsomely refreshed 2018 Infiniti QX80 for $32,250 less than the 2018 Lexus LX 570, $35,650 less than the Land Rover Range Rover, and $51,550 less than the base Mercedes-Benz G 550. What’s more, the QX80 is $9,190 more affordable than the 2018 Cadillac Escalade and costs $10,300 less than the new 2018 Lincoln Navigator, which should have all of us questioning whether Infiniti priced its full-size SUV too low. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
Changes to the rear are more subtle, but nevertheless add class via extra chrome, new taillights and a revised bumper. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

To the ridiculously wealthy such pricing discrepancies won’t make one bit of difference, but value matters to smart luxury SUV shoppers trying to maximize the most from their hard-earned income. To that end the QX80 won’t disappoint, starting with a thorough mid-cycle update for 2018 that includes a redesigned grille, front fascia, hood, fenders, fender vents, and rear bumper, while its LED headlamps, LED taillights, LED fog lamps, and side indicators have been dramatically revised as well. Lastly, Infiniti rounded out the updated exterior design with new 20- and 22-inch alloy wheels, while new exterior colours include Moonstone White, Mineral Black and my tester’s Champagne Quartz, which works really well with all the new details. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
The new standard LED headlamps look gorgeous. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Climbing inside reveals some updates to the cabin as well, including a standard contrast-stitched wrapped upper instrument panel and a new shift knob, plus a new stitched and leather-wrapped steering wheel hub/horn pad and diamond-patterned quilting for the upgraded semi-aniline leather door trim and seat inserts when opting for the Technology Package. My test model also had some beautiful high-gloss Espresso Burl hardwood trim around the steering wheel, across the dash and door panels, and down the centre stack and lower console, plus equally tasteful metal accents in key areas. The result is a cabin that looks and feels really rich, matched by high-quality materials like premium soft-touch synthetics on key surfaces including the entire door panels from top to bottom (not so with some competitors), good attention to detail, tight fitment of panels and switchgear, some of the latter finished in beautiful knurled metal, and an overall sense of solidity. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
Beautifully intricate detailing around each LED fog lamp makes the lower front fascia particularly attractive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Infiniti also adds some new tech, with that just noted $8,150 Technology Package also including an Infiniti-first Smart Rear View Mirror that doubles as a wide-angle rearview camera, plus an Advanced Climate Control System (ACCS) with auto recirculation, a Plasmacluster air purifier and a Grape Polyphenol Filter, and front seat pre-crash seatbelts on the inside, while the exterior gets an Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS) with auto-leveling headlights, chrome mirror caps, the larger 22-inch wheels mentioned earlier, which are gorgeous 18-spoke forged aluminum alloys shod with 275/50R22 H-rated all-season performance tires, Hydraulic Body Motion Control to further enhance handling, Active Trace Control brake vectoring to improve at-the-limit stability, safety and performance, Infiniti’s Eco Pedal that presses back on the driver’s right foot to promote less aggressive driving (which fortunately can be turned off), and more. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
These optional 18-spoke 22-inch alloys are stunning. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The Technology Package also adds a host of advanced driving assistance systems such as Intelligent Cruise Control with Full-Speed Range, Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW), Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Distance Control Assist, Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Blind Spot Intervention (BSI), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Departure Prevention (LDP), and Backup Collision Intervention (BCI). 

2018 Infiniti QX80
New LED taillights include clear backup lamps that meld seamlessly into a stylish chrome strikethrough that spans the midpoint of the liftgate. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Even when factoring in the extra money spent on the Technology Package, the 2018 Infiniti QX80’s increased $85,500 list price rings in lower than all of the aforementioned competitors’ base prices, while a new no-cost optional interior colour treatment includes Saddle Brown with Charcoal Burl Trim, plus the QX80’s Wheat motif has been updated from low contrast to high contrast. Likewise, the Graphite grey interior gets updates too. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
The standard QX80 already has an impressive cabin, but the Technology Package takes it up a significant notch. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Surprisingly the rear entertainment system, with its dual 8.0-inch displays, two pairs of wireless headphones, remote control, aux inputs and more comes standard, as does the superb sounding Bose Cabin Surround audio system with digital 5.1 decoding, Bose Centerpoint 2 signal processing, 15 speakers and more, whereas the list of standard in-car electronics not already mentioned includes satellite radio, streaming Bluetooth audio, multiple USB charging ports, an 8.0-inch InTouch Single Display infotainment touchscreen, an Around View Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection (MOD), Infiniti InTouch Navigation, Infiniti InTouch Services, Infiniti Connection telematics, voice recognition, NavTraffic with real-time traffic info, and more. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
Luxury abounds with beautiful gloss hardwood, contrast stitched semi-aniline leather nearly everywhere, and high-quality metal detailing throughout. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Additional standard features include underbody skid plates to protect vulnerable components while off-roading, body-colour running boards, roof rails, remote engine start, proximity access with pushbutton ignition, aluminum kick plates, power-folding, auto-dimming, heatable side mirrors with integrated turn signals, courtesy lamps and reverse tilt down, a heated leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, a powered steering column, auto on/off LED headlights with auto high beam assist, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming centre mirror, a classy analogue clock, a HomeLink garage door opener, easy to use tri-zone automatic climate control, always appreciated front and rear parking sensors, a powered moonroof, handy two-way memory for the driver’s seat, side mirrors and steering column, a very comfortable 10-way powered driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar support, and an eight-way powered front passenger’s seat with powered lumbar support. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
A QX80 weak point is its gauge cluster, which provides attractive analogue dials surrounding an old-school monochrome trip computer. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Those standard seats are covered in leather upholstery, albeit not quite as soft and supple as the semi-aniline hides found in my tester, plus they’re heated and climate-controlled for all-weather comfort up front, while my tester’s optional second-row captain’s chairs also came heated, and feature a tip-up easy entry system for the third row that’s simple to operate, plus the 60/40-split third row seats are power-folding and reclining. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
The centre stack is filled with high quality switchgear over beautiful hardwood surfacing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

A powered rear liftgate is included too, as is a stainless steel rear bumper protector, an integrated Class IV tow hitch with a covered seven-pin wiring harness, tire pressure monitoring, Hill Start Assist, Trailer Sway Control, all expected active and passive safety systems, plus more. Lastly, an eight-passenger QX80 can be had for the same price. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
The infotainment system is filled with useful functionality, but when parking a large SUV a split-screen backup/overhead camera is critical. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My only complaints include a gauge cluster and an infotainment display that are a bit behind the curve. Okay I’m being generous, as the primary instruments clearly don’t measure up to the expected full colour, TFT, digital wonderment provided by most rivals. By so saying I’m not pronouncing it unfit for business. Its electroluminescent dials are actually quite lovely, while their bright background lighting can be seen in most any lighting condition. The monochromatic trip computer at centre, however, might be the oldest of its type in existence, especially when compared to the high-resolution colour TFT display in your average Honda Civic, but such issues will be taken care of in due time as seen in some of Infiniti’s more recently redesigned models. You just need to be made aware of them now, as throwback electronics can make any new vehicle seem pretty old. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
This analogue clock is classic! (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

In contrast the infotainment display is much better, and while not top of its class it certainly works well. The touchscreen isn’t all shiny and high-contrast as is en vogue these days, but its matte finish is nevertheless fairly high in resolution and it’s replete with a bevy of useful functions, with a split-screen of backup and overhead surround cameras, bright, clear and accurate navigation mapping, climate and audio controls, which again can be monitored by a split screen for multitasking, rear entertainment controls, driving info like an Eco Drive Report, a nice graph showing average fuel economy (at 16.6 L/100km, ugh! — the actual Transport Canada numbers are 12.2 city, 19.0 highway and 15.1 combined), one for individual tire pressure, a Performance Meter, and so on, while the various menus are filled with nice big digital buttons, some colourful and others a medium blue. I’m not a fan of Android Auto so couldn’t care less that it’s not included, but iPhone owners might wish for Apple CarPlay, which is a much better interface. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
The leather, piano black lacquer and metal adorned shift knob is new for 2018. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As for roominess, few people will actually need this much space. Front headroom is NBA-level tall, while you should have ample side-to-side movement as well. The driver’s seat was superbly comfortable and fully adjustable too, which when combined with the powered steering column made for an ideal fit, aiding comfort and control. 

Likewise, the rear quarters are ultimately roomy and extremely well finished. Rear passengers will appreciate roof vents that extend right back to the third row, while there’s also a separate climate control interface on the backside of the front console with heated seat buttons for the second row, plus other plug-ins for the rear entertainment system, the monitors of which get mounted to the backside to the front headrests. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
Comfort comes standard, but the semi-aniline leather on these upgraded seats is extra soft and supple, plus the diamond quilting looks rich. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

This seven-passenger model features a large centre console between the two second-row captain’s chairs, with its top finished in a nice hardwood veneer, this just ahead of a leather armrest covering a deep storage bin below. You can also access a secondary storage bin from a front hatch, plus two small cupholders are kept hidden below a nice wooden lid up top as well. This said the construction of the console’s base feels kind of cheap, in that it’s basically formed from a massive hard plastic shell that I found a bit disappointing for this class and price range. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
Infiniti extends the upscale quilted leather into the back, while our seven-seat tester included a large centre console between the second row captain’s chairs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

On the positive, the third row is easy to access thanks to second-row seats that pop up and out of the way automatically, providing a wide walkthrough. The rearmost seats are large enough for adults too, even three across, while Infiniti provides multiple side cupholders next to rocker switches for reclining the rear seatbacks. 

The cargo area is fairly large at 470 litres behind the third-row, and comes complete with a lidded floor providing some hidden storage below. The third row seats power down, albeit ever so slowly, providing up to 1,405 litres of available cargo space, and then power back up again. You need to walk around to the side doors to lay the second-row seats flat, but when you do the QX80 provides a massive 2,694 litres of load area, but with a sloped floor at centre. Also, that second-row centre console gets in the way if you have plans of hauling 4×8 sheets of building material, as it protrudes upward in the middle, so if you’re a do-it-yourselfer I’d recommend going for the eight-seater that fits a regular bench seat into the second row. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
A dual-screen rear entertainment system comes standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Speaking of hauling, the QX80’s standard 5.6-litre V8, good for 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque and mated to a quick-shifting seven-speed automatic transmission that powers all four wheels via Infiniti All-Mode 4WD with Snow and Tow Modes, can manage up to 8,500 lbs (3,855 kg), which is a sizeable trailer whether suited up for camping or boating. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
The second-row captain’s chairs fold up and get out of the way easily, allowing good access to the rearmost seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Unfortunately I didn’t have time for either, but enjoyed the QX80’s power off the line, when passing on the open highway, and likewise appreciated the big SUV’s surprising agility through fast-paced, tight corners. It really feels like a much smaller utility when pushed hard, yet all the while it provides a truly comfortable ride thanks to plenty of suspension travel and good overall compliance. 

If off-roading is your thing, take note the QX80 has at least as much 4×4 heritage as its aforementioned rivals, thanks to sharing underpinnings with Nissan’s Armada, which in turn is a rebadged Nissan Patrol, a rugged, go-anywhere SUV nameplate that’s become legendary throughout the world since it arrived on the scene in 1951. That means it’s as experienced and well respected in global off-road circles as Land Rover’s Defender, Toyota’s Land Cruiser and others, the latter forming the basis for the Lexus LX, while Mercedes’ impressive G-Class, or Gelandewagen, only dates back to 1979. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
The third row has room enough for three adults side-by-side. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

All have decades-long ties to militaries worldwide, not to mention relief organizations, policing, businesses requiring wilderness travel, etcetera, and that on- and off-road prowess can immediately be felt by driver and passengers. The QX80 is a solid, well-built vehicle first and foremost, and an impressively finished luxury SUV after that, which is all the more reason to be amazed at its highly competitive pricing. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
The QX80 provides a cavernous cargo area, but opt for the 8-seat version if you plan on making total use of the load floor. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

It’s no wonder QX80 sales have experienced a major upswing lately, with this updated 2018 model having its strongest results ever in March, 2018, with 147 units sold and a year-over-year gain of 113.0 percent. The QX80 showed strength through all three months of this year’s first quarter too, with sales growth up a solid 66.4 percent, while year-over-year deliveries were still up by a significant 53.1 percent at the halfway point of the year. 

Clearly, Canadians have responded well to the 2018 Infiniti QX80’s stylish new design, numerous interior refinements, continued strong performance, and particularly good value. I recommend you take up the challenge and enjoy some quality time behind the wheel.

Infiniti has been electrifying its luxury car lineup since 2011, but so far it hasn’t gone so far as to bring a full EV to market, instead relying on hybrids to fill the bill.  This said its mid-size…

Upcoming electric vehicle platform promises big changes ahead for Infiniti

2018 Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept
The Q Inspiration Concept, introduced earlier this year, has inspired a new electrified vehicle platform. (Photo: Infiniti)

Infiniti has been electrifying its luxury car lineup since 2011, but so far it hasn’t gone so far as to bring a full EV to market, instead relying on hybrids to fill the bill. 

This said its mid-size E-segment Q70 Hybrid is no longer available in Canada and appears to have disappeared from its U.S. division’s website for 2019 as well, but the smaller Q50 Hybrid remains a formidable challenger in the D-segment thanks to a brand-wide focus that’s always been as much about efficiency as performance— seven years ago the original M35h set an official Guinness world record for fastest acceleration from a production hybrid. Still, while a strong effort so far, these two models only represent the beginnings of Infiniti’s road to electrification. 

2018 Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept
Infiniti plans to produce five new models in China, including an EV. (Photo: Infiniti)

Such was made clear by Nissan chief executive officer Hiroto Saikawa who, as part of his address at the Automotive News World Congress in January, told the audience that the Infiniti brand would almost entirely be comprised of electrified vehicles after 2021, and furthermore he predicted that half of the luxury division’s sales would either feature a hybrid or a pure electric powertrain by 2025. 

Based on calendar year 2017 sales of 153,415 units globally (which was an increase of 11 percent over 2016), this means about 75,000 new Infiniti vehicles will be rolling off of Infiniti production lines with electrified powertrains in just seven years. 

2018 Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept
Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said that Infiniti will almost entirely be comprised of electrified vehicles after 2021. (Photo: Infiniti)

According to Saikawa, Infiniti will rely on parent company Nissan’s new range-extending electric motor-powered technology dubbed ePower for future hybrid powertrains, a system that applies a unique EV strategy. 

First off, unlike plug-in hybrids that are gaining popularity today, the ePower system can’t be plugged in. What’s more, it doesn’t use its gasoline-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) for propulsion, but rather it merely recharges the battery, which in turn powers an electric motor that drives the wheels. 

2018 Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept
A dedicated electrified vehicle platform can allow for optimized battery storage, resulting in better use of available interior space. (Photo: Infiniti)

Infiniti’s future electrified vehicle platform architecture, announced in April during a special Auto China preview event at the Infiniti Brand Experience Center in Beijing, has been heavily inspired by the recent Q Inspiration concept first shown at January’s Detroit show. Infiniti plans to produce an electrified vehicle on this new platform as one of five upcoming models to be built in China. 

“Infiniti is developing a new platform for electrified vehicles inspired by the Q Inspiration concept car, which shows the new design language for the age of autonomy and electrification,” said Infiniti chairman and global president Roland Krueger. “We very much had China in mind when designing the Q Inspiration, which shows a very sporty, performance-oriented electric concept, with a much bigger interior space.” 

2018 Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept
Expect driving controls to change dramatically in coming years, due to different needs from electrified powertrains as well as automated driving systems. (Photo: Infiniti)

While China has become a global leader in automotive powertrain electrification in recent years, new trade disputes between the second-largest global economy and the current U.S. administration governing the world’s largest economy, may result in strategies changing for Infiniti and other manufacturers already importing vehicles across the Pacific or considering doing so. 

Of note, the Q Inspiration concept is not only being touted as inspiration for future Infiniti electrified vehicles’ platform architectures and powertrains, but is also said to be reflective of future Infiniti styling. 

“The Q Inspiration concept car takes the traditional sedan architecture to its next stage of evolution,” said Karim Habib, Infiniti executive design director. “A shift towards smarter, more compact and less intrusive powertrains; We were able to create an alternative form with flowing gestures, more engaging in character and more enriching in experience. With its long cabin, balanced proportions and muscular stance, the concept heralds in a new era for Infiniti models.”

Infiniti gave its popular Q50 sport-luxury sedan a mid-cycle makeover for 2018, and while the refresh wasn’t overdue it was certainly welcome.  Without the need to totally recreate Q50 styling that…

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe Road Test

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
Infiniti has refined the already handsome Q50 for 2018, with a new grille, hood, LED headlamps, wheels, and special lower front and rear fascias that depict trim levels. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Infiniti gave its popular Q50 sport-luxury sedan a mid-cycle makeover for 2018, and while the refresh wasn’t overdue it was certainly welcome. 

Without the need to totally recreate Q50 styling that most would agree was already attractive, the design team was freed to mildly tweak details. The changes include a slightly reworked version of the brand’s trademark double-arch grille that now offers more texture to its wavy mesh-patterned insert, plus muscled up character lines that now follow the upper outside corners of that grille across each side of the hood. Additionally, Infiniti revised the LED headlamps with a more animalistic eye-like design, and reworked the LED taillights at the polar end. 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
Wheels aside, side profile styling looks much the same, although a keen eye can pick out changes to the front and rear fascias. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While all these updates help modernize the Q50’s look, the new model’s most noticeable changes were saved for its lower front and rear fascias, which now more clearly depict the trim line, or rather “grade structure” being offered. 

On that note the 2018 Q50 is now available in Luxe, Signature Edition, Sport and Red Sport 400 grades. The latter two trims will be familiar to Infiniti faithful, although Luxe and Signature Edition are entirely new. Let’s be first to thank Infiniti for not using Limited or Platinum in the Q50 naming scheme, two of the most overused trim levels in the industry, after which we should give them a collective nod of approval for more visually separating each trim line to benefit those paying more to move up into a higher-end model. 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
Like the frontal design, Luxe trim gets a toned down rear fascia for a more elegant look. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

To this end, Signature Edition and Sport grades offer performance-oriented exterior styling, while yet sportier visual upgrades join the model’s most potent 400-horsepower engine in Red Sport 400 trim. Items specific to the three upper grades include a more sharply creased front bumper and wider, lower air intakes, the corner vents edged in glossy black, while the rear bumper gets a bolder black diffuser embedded at centre, with a circular stainless steel exhaust tip at each corner. The Red Sport 400 gets a bit sportier still, with some glossy dark paint and body-colour two-tone detailing on the rear fascia, while the side mirror caps also feature a gloss black treatment, plus it includes a unique set of 19-inch alloys. 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
We love the new LED headlamps, our tester’s upgraded with auto-leveling adaptive cornering and automatic high beam assist. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While all this is interesting and covered in depth as part of my previous 2018 Q50 Red Sport 400 road test, the model I most recently spent a week with is the more elegantly penned 2018 Q50 3.0t Luxe, which is essentially the Canadian-spec base trim upgraded with the more formidable 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6. This means, instead of the 2.0t turbocharged four-cylinder engine’s 2.0-litre displacement, 208 horsepower, and 258 lb-ft of torque, my tester’s mill produced 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque for much more pleasing response from takeoff, during highway passing manoeuvres, and everywhere else, plus improved quietness with less vibration for a greater sense of refinement, and lastly a wonderful engine and exhaust note. 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
Luxe trim gets a classier front fascia, as opposed to the sportier look applied to upper grades, yet this design is still plenty aggressive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

It appears I’m not the only one voicing praises to this new mill, as the Nissan/Infiniti VR family of 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engines is following in the automaker’s former VQ V6 engine’s footsteps by once again becoming a 2017 Ward’s 10 Best Engines winner. 

Like the 2.0t, the 3.0t engine comes mated to Infiniti’s in-house seven-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, the latter system often praised by yours truly and other journos for its rear-biased nature and tenacious grip in both dry and inclement weather, while the Infiniti autobox (also used in Nissan’s 370Z) is a highly advanced bit of cog swapping kit that comes complete with dual transmission fluid coolers, Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) boasting an adaptive learning algorithm that senses a driver’s style and automatically adjusts shifting accordingly (upgraded with navigation-synchronized capability in upper trims), as well as a manual shift mode that helps you drive and sound like a pro thanks to Downshift Rev Matching (DRM). 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
These 18-inch alloys are anything but basic looking. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

It all sounds like race-spec equipment, but in the 3.0t Luxe these components are used to deliver creamy smooth, linear power from all over the boosted engine’s rev range, making it easy to manage in any situation. No doubt this is why Infiniti chooses not to offer steering wheel paddle shifters with this particular car, instead only including them with Sport and Red Sport 400 grades. This is a shame as the 3.0t’s formidable power and the car’s overall sporty nature deserve such hands-on engagement, but I made do with the lower console-mounted DIY shift lever when wanting to extract the most from the powertrain. 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
These new taillights, complete with LED brake lamps, freshen up the Q50’s rear styling. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

That’s when the Q50’s updated Rack Electronic Power Steering shows its advantages. This more sophisticated steering system, standard with the V6, is an upgrade over the 2.0t’s vehicle speed-sensitive hydraulic electronic rack-and-pinion power steering setup, in that it adds steering effort when the Q50’s yaw rate changes, and then adjusts to increase assistance when the wheels straighten. This isn’t the top-line Q50 drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering system and doesn’t include the two Sport models’ fast-ratio setup either, but it nevertheless combined sporty responsiveness with wonderfully smooth control at high speeds, while it was ultra-easy to drive around town or within confined parking garages. 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
A closer look at the rear fascia shows dual performance exhaust pipes, yet no diffuser in between. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

You can make adjustments through the lower console-mounted Drive Mode Selector, which modulates steering, suspension and drivetrain settings via Standard (default), Snow, Eco, Sport and Personal modes. All of this works wonderfully with the fully independent standard suspension, an aluminum-intensive design that combines front double-wishbones with a rear multi-link setup, along with Dual Flow Path shocks and stabilizer bars at both ends. 

While performance is important in this class, fuel economy is becoming more of an issue due to rising pump prices. To this end Infiniti should be lauded for developing such a powerful engine that makes such a small environmental footprint, the as-tested Q50 3.0t AWD good for a claimed 12.4 L/100km city, 8.7 highway and 10.8 combined. Of course, the 2.0t AWD is thriftier still at just 10.7 city, 8.6 highway and 9.7 combined, and the as yet unmentioned Q50 Hybrid AWD better yet at 9.1, 7.7 and 8.5 respectively, but that’s a different story for another time. 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
The new 2018 Q50 interior includes a lot of positive changes. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Any talk about the Q50 interior I tested will shed light on changes made to the Hybrid, mind you, not to mention other grades within the range, starting with the redesigned steering wheel that looks and feels sportier than the outgoing version. It’s ideally shaped with well-placed, more defined thumb spats, plus its inner baseball-style stitching provides better grip. It also seems as if it’s finished in a higher grade of leather, while its spokes are thinner for a more sophisticated look, and the switchgear attached impresses as well. The shift knob is new too, with a more ergonomic design, nicer leatherwork, double stitching, and higher end detailing that even includes an Infiniti logo on top, although none of this will be new if you’d spent time in last year’s all-new Q60 sport coupe. 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
The luxuriously appointed Q50 cabin includes a new steering wheel, shift knob, and plenty of other refinements. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

It only makes sense that changes made to the Q60 would find their way to a car that has always shared much of the Q50’s underpinnings and cabin detailing, and being that the two-door coupe thoroughly impressed us during our multiple tests you should be able to guess that the rest of our 2018 Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe tester’s cabin didn’t disappoint either. For instance, the four-door model gets double-stitched padded leatherette on the instrument panel, while this luxury-oriented grade features gorgeous maple hardwood inlays that look and feel more naturally genuine than previous attempts. 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
The Q50’s electroluminescent gauges are bright, easy to read and perfect for a near-base trim level, but Infiniti will soon want to offer a fully configurable TFT display for upper grades. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Additionally, my tester’s beautifully finished leather upholstered seats were some of the best ever installed in a Q50, likely due to Infiniti’s new “spinal support” design that ideally cupped the backside while comfortably supporting the upper legs. Their standard eight-way power-adjustability made it easy to get comfortable too, while the optional powered steering column and proximity-sensing key-controlled memory settings automatically reselected my ideal driving position on startup. 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
The Q50’s dual touchscreens are superb, and ahead of the curve when compared to rivals that still use knobs and buttons to control their infotainment systems. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The leather upholstery is actually an exclusive 3.0t Luxe option, as higher grades come standard with leather and both Luxe 2.0t and 3.0t trims get standard leatherette seating surfaces like most of the Q50’s rivals, with additional standard kit including auto on/off LED headlights, LED fog lamps, LED brake lights, 18-inch alloys on 225/50R18 all-season run-flat performance tires, Scratch Shield self-healing paint, aluminum “INFINITI” branded kick plates, proximity keyless access, pushbutton ignition, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink garage door opener, Fine Vision electroluminescent primary gauges, micro-filtered dual-zone auto climate control, Infiniti InTouch infotainment with 8.0-inch upper and 7.0-inch lower displays, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/satellite audio with HD playback, RDS and speed-sensitive volume, two USB ports, a heatable steering wheel, heated front seats, eight-way powered front seats, a powered moonroof, and more. 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
The Around View monitor was a much appreciated option. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Moving up from the 2.0t to the 3.0t Luxe not only provides more power under the hood but also a handful of additional features such as remote engine start, Infiniti InTouch navigation that proved easy to operate and totally accurate, the Infiniti InTouch Services suite of digital alerts and remote services, voice recognition for audio, SMS text and vehicle info, power-adjustable lumbar support for the driver, and 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks with a centre pass-through (which are optional on the base car). 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
The new shift knob is as exquisitely finished as the new steering wheel, while the upgraded maple hardwood is a real treat. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The optional leather I spoke of a moment ago comes as part of the $3,500 Sensory ProASSIST package that also adds two-way memory for the driver’s seat, the upgraded power-adjustable tilt and telescopic steering column and the side mirrors, the latter items also enhanced with reverse dipping and auto-dimming capability, while the package also includes an Advanced Climate Control System (ACCS) with a Plasmacluster and Grape Polyphenol filter, a superb sounding 16-speaker Bose “Performance Series” audio system with advanced staging signal processing and CenterPoint 2.0 surround-sound, a very helpful Around View parking monitor with Moving Object Detection (MOD), always appreciated front and rear parking sensors, and a suite of advanced driver assistance technologies including Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW), Forward Emergency Braking (FEB), Blind-Spot Warning (BSW), and Back Collision Intervention (BCI) with Cross Traffic Alert (CTA). 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
The Q50’s infotainment dial is beautifully finished with grippy knurled metal edges. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My tester also came with the $3,800 ProACTIVE package that adds an auto-leveling Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS) that “bends” the headlights to improve night visibility around corners, High Beam Assist (HBA), Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC) with Full Speed Range, Distance Control Assist (DCA), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) with Active Lane Control, Blind Spot Intervention (BSI), and Infiniti’s Eco Pedal. The only other option was $650 Asgard Grey paint, which when combined with everything else pushed the base Q50 2.0t AWD price of $39,995 before freight and fees up to $52,920, which is still an excellent value when compared to competitors with similar features. And by the way, I found all of my pricing info for the 2018 Q50 and its competitors on CarCostCanada.com, a great resource for car pricing and so much more. 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
Infiniti’s new “spinal support” seats ideally cup the backside while comfortably supporting the upper legs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I noted a number of improvements to the Q50 interior earlier, but neglected to mention that along with the stitched leather-like dash-top and instrument panel, Infiniti also finished the lower console sides in the same luxurious treatment, protecting inside knees as part of the process. They didn’t go so far as to add soft-touch synthetic to the mostly unseen lower instrument panel under the knees, which almost never comes in contact with anything and therefore is rarely upgraded, or for that matter the lower door panels that are done better by some D-segment competitors, but the glove box lid was given a dose of the good stuff for a nice upscale feel. 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
The rear seating area is as nicely finished as that up front, and plenty comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Possibly more important in this category are digital interfaces, and to this end I think Infiniti has an advantage over some of its closest rivals due to dual tablet-style centre stack infotainment touchscreens. A number of Q50 competitors are still held back by only offering old-school lower console-mounted rotating knobs, buttons, or touchpads. Infiniti still includes a beautiful knurled metal dial with a few surrounding buttons for those who’d rather get their info this way, but let’s face it, our world has become a lot more comfortable applying finger gestures directly to touchscreens, so kudos to Infiniti for being ahead of the curve in this all-important area and delivering an impressive interface as well.

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
The Q50’s trunk is a bit small at 374 litres (13.2 cubic feet), but it’s nicely appointed. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Both vertically stacked Q50 displays are touch-capacitive, which allows easy use of multiple functions simultaneously, such as the top screen for navigation mapping and the bottom for audio control. Infiniti’s appropriately named InTouch system also lets driver and front passenger customize the car’s inner environment by storing detailed personal information for multiple drivers, such as memory seating and mirror positions, identifiable via individual proximity-sensing I-keys. 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
Available 60/40-split rear seatbacks benefit further from a centre pass-through. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If I could fault the Q50 interior I’d have to point to the mostly analogue primary instrument package that, despite having a large, highly functional colour multi-information display at centre, doesn’t provide the wow factor of Audi’s optional Digital Cockpit or a number of other fully configurable TFT gauge clusters. It’s certainly bright, colourful and attractively laid out, while providing superb legibility day or night, but buyers in this class want the best and brightest, literally, so Infiniti will want to address this issue with something more cutting edge soon. 

2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t AWD Luxe
Infiniti’s award-winning 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 is a thing of beauty. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

One small negative after a lengthy list of positives is a fair way to end this 2018 Infiniti Q50 review, but we should also take into consideration that anyone buying a near-base competitor won’t be enjoying a fully configurable TFT gauge cluster either. Such fanciful features are relegated to top-tier trims across the industry, and despite my tester’s bevy of standard features, impressive finishing and strong performance, this 3.0t Luxe trim is more or less base. For these reasons and more, I recommend you experience this car firsthand.

Drive a 2018 Infiniti QX80 and you’ll quickly be comparing it in kind to full-size SUV competitors from Land Rover, Lexus, and even Mercedes-Benz, and a little research into its origins will immediately…

Infiniti continues to deliver strong value with its refreshed 2018 QX80

2018 Infiniti QX80
Infinti has given its 2018 QX80 a truly handsome refresh including some interior improvements, yet value remains best-in-class. (Photo: Infiniti)

Drive a 2018 Infiniti QX80 and you’ll quickly be comparing it in kind to full-size SUV competitors from Land Rover, Lexus, and even Mercedes-Benz, and a little research into its origins will immediately tell you why. 

The QX80, like the Nissan Armada that shares its platform architecture, is based on the legendary Nissan Patrol, a rugged, go-anywhere SUV nameplate that’s as old and well respected in global off-road circles as Land Rover’s Defender, Range Rover and others, Toyota’s Land Cruiser that forms the basis for the Lexus LX, and Mercedes’ G-Class, or Gelandewagen. All have decades-long ties to militaries worldwide, not to mention relief organizations, policing, businesses requiring wilderness travel, etcetera, and that on- and off-road prowess can immediately be felt by driver and passengers. The QX80 is a solid, well-built vehicle first and foremost, and an impressively finished luxury SUV after that, which is all the more reason to be amazed at its highly competitive pricing. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
Infiniti does a nice job of balancing traditional QX80 off-road worthiness with on-road athleticism. (Photo: Infiniti)

As sourced on CarCostCanada.com, the handsomely refreshed 2018 Infiniti QX80 is now available for just $77,350 plus freight and fees, which means you can get into a well-equipped, impressively finished base model for $32,250 less than the 2018 Lexus LX 570, $35,650 less than the Land Rover Range Rover, and $51,550 less than the base Mercedes-Benz G 550. What’s more, the QX80 is $9,190 more affordable than the 2018 Cadillac Escalade while representing a $10,300 savings over the new 2018 Lincoln Navigator, which will have you questioning whether Infiniti priced its full-size SUV too low after comparing them all directly. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
Infiniti cleaned up the QX80 rear design with new LED taillights featuring a chrome strikethrough garnish, plus a new bumper. (Photo: Infiniti)

To the ultimately wealthy such pricing trivialities won’t make one bit of difference, but value matters to smart luxury SUV shoppers trying to maximize the most from their hard-earned income. To that end the QX80 won’t disappoint, starting with a comprehensive refresh for the 2018 model year that includes a redesigned grille, front fascia, hood, fenders, fender vents, and rear bumper, while its LED headlamps, LED taillights, LED fog lamps and side indicators have been dramatically revised as well. Infiniti has rounded out the new exterior design with new 20- and 22-inch alloy wheels, while new exterior colours include Moonstone White, Mineral Black and Champagne Quartz. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
A new trademark double-arch grille, new lower fascia with LED fog lamps, new LED headlights, and new 20- and 22-inch alloys round out the frontal changes. (Photo: Infiniti)

Moving inside, the 2018 QX80 receives a newly refined cabin with a contrast-stitched wrapped upper instrument panel and a new shift knob across the line, plus a new stitched and leather-wrapped steering wheel hub/horn pad and diamond-patterned quilting for the upgraded door trim and seat inserts when opting for the Technology Package. 

That Technology Package, at $8,150, also includes a new Infiniti-first Smart Rear View Mirror that doubles as a wide-angle rearview camera, while the infotainment system is now Infiniti’s InTouch Single Display design. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
The QX80’s front fender vent gets a new horizontal design that beautifies the look. (Photo: Infiniti)

Additional Technology Package equipment includes the 22-inch wheels noted earlier, which are 18-spoke forged aluminum alloys shod with 275/50R22 H-rated all-season performance tires, plus Hydraulic Body Motion Control to enhance handling further, Active Trace Control brake vectoring that improves at-the-limit stability, safety and performance, Infiniti’s Eco Pedal that presses back on the driver’s right foot to promote less aggressive driving (which can be turned off), chrome mirror caps, an Advanced Climate Control System (ACCS) with auto recirculation, a Plasmacluster air purifier and a Grape Polyphenol Filter, Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS) with auto-leveling headlights, and front seat pre-crash seatbelts. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
Infiniti has taken a QX80 experience that was already rich, and made it even richer. (Photo: Infiniti)

The Technology Package also includes a host of advanced driving assistance systems such as Intelligent Cruise Control (Full-Speed Range), Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW), Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Distance Control Assist, Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Blind Spot Intervention (BSI), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Departure Prevention (LDP), and Backup Collision Intervention (BCI). 

2018 Infiniti QX80
A new leather-wrapped steering wheel hub/horn pad ups QX80 refinement. (Photo: Infiniti)

Even with the Technology Package included, the 2018 Infiniti QX80’s increased $85,500 price rings in lower than all of the aforementioned competitors, while a new no-cost optional colour treatment includes Saddle Brown with Charcoal Burl Trim, plus the QX80’s Wheat motif has been updated from low contrast to high contrast. Likewise the Graphite grey interior gets updates too. 

Surprisingly the rear entertainment system, with its dual 8.0-inch displays, two pairs of wireless headphones, remote control, aux inputs and more, comes standard, as does the Bose Cabin Surround audio system with digital 5.1 decoding, Bose Centerpoint 2 signal processing, 15 speakers and more, while the list of standard in-car electronics not already mentioned also includes satellite radio, streaming Bluetooth audio, multiple USB charging ports, an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, an Around View Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection (MOD), Infiniti InTouch Navigation, Infiniti InTouch Services, Infiniti Connection telematics, voice recognition, NavTraffic with real-time traffic info, and more. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
A redesigned shift knob adds a more premium look and feel. (Photo: Infiniti)

Additional standard features include skid plates, body-colour running boards, roof rails, remote engine start, proximity access with pushbutton ignition, aluminum kick plates, power-folding, auto-dimming, heatable side mirrors with integrated turn signals, courtesy lamps and reverse tilt down, a heated leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, a powered steering column, auto on/off LED headlights with high beam assist, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming centre mirror, an analog clock, a HomeLink garage door opener, tri-zone automatic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, a powered moonroof, two-way memory for the driver’s seat, side mirrors and steering column, a 10-way powered driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar support, and an eight-way powered front passenger’s seat with two-way powered lumbar support.

2018 Infiniti QX80
A new Infiniti-first Smart Rear View Mirror that doubles as a wide-angle rearview camera is included in the Technology package. (Photo: Infiniti)

Those seats are covered in semi-aniline leather upholstery, plus heated and climate-controlled up front, while the second-row captain’s chairs are heated (seven-passenger only) and feature tip-up easy entry for the third row, with standard 60/40-split power-folding and reclining third row seats also added to the standard feature set, plus a powered rear liftgate, a stainless steel rear bumper protector, an integrated Class IV tow hitch and seven-pin wiring harness with cover, tire pressure monitoring, Hill Start Assist, Trailer Sway Control, all the usual active and passive safety systems, and more. Lastly, an eight-passenger QX80 can be had for the same price. 

2018 Infiniti QX80
The QX80’s diamond-quilted semi-aniline leather is part of that rich ambience mentioned earlier. (Photo: Infiniti)

The QX80’s 5.6-litre V8 is also standard, making 400 horsepower plus 413 lb-ft of torque and mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission powering all four wheels via Infiniti All-Mode 4WD with Snow and Tow Modes. 

“The 2018 QX80 commands a heightened flagship presence within the Infiniti portfolio,” said Adam Paterson, managing director, Infiniti Canada. “The updated model provides upscale luxury for all passengers, as well as a suite of advanced technologies that elevate confidence and control on any road.” 

2018 Infiniti QX80
Spacious 3-row flexibility and powered rear seats enhance convenience and practicality. (Photo: Infiniti)

It’s no wonder QX80 sales have experienced a major upswing lately, with this updated 2018 model having its strongest sales ever in March, 2018, with 147 units sold and a year-over-year gain of 113.0 percent. The QX80 has shown strength through all three months of this year’s first quarter too, with sales growth up a solid 66.4 percent. 

Clearly, Canadians have responded well to the 2018 Infiniti QX80’s sharp new styling updated, plentiful interior refinements, and incredible value proposition.