When Q2 of 2018 came to a close, Nissan Group certainly had reason to celebrate thanks to its Canadian division achieving its best June ever. Sales increased to 16,330 units nationwide last month, which…
When Q2 of 2018 came to a close, Nissan Group certainly had reason to celebrate thanks to its Canadian division achieving its best June ever. Sales increased to 16,330 units nationwide last month, which represents a 2.0-percent year-over-year increase as well as an all-time monthly sales record.
Breaking that total down by brand, the automaker’s namesake Nissan division sold 14,932 units, providing a 0.9-percent increase, which left the Infiniti luxury brand with 1,398 new model sales, this being a 16.3-percent improvement over June of 2017.
The top-selling Nissan model remains the ever-popular Rogue compact crossover SUV, which found 4,342 new owners in June, whereas the smaller Qashqai crossover achieved a new all-time record of 2,150 sales during the same 30 days, helping it continue forward as the second best-selling model in Nissan’s Canadian lineup.
Also impressive, the all-new, all-electric Leaf EV set a June sales record as well, with 492 units down the road. Additionally, Nissan has found 2,408 new Leaf buyers during the 2018 calendar year-to-date, building on one of the Japanese brand’s most significant success stories.
A newcomer to the Nissan family got off to a good start in June as well, with the 2018 Kicks subcompact crossover SUV selling a total of 609 units during its first full month, while at the other end of the size spectrum the Titan full-size pickup truck recorded its best June ever at 684 units, a gain of 61.3 percent when compared to June of 2017.
Continuing on the XXL theme, the Armada full-size SUV had a solid month of sales too, achieving its best June ever thanks to 156 deliveries, which represents an increase of 16.4 percent from the same month last year.
In other positive June news, the 370Z and GT-R sports cars grew their sales by 14.3 and 20.0 percent respectively, while the NV200 and NV commercial vans experienced 13.0 and 13.6 percent growth.
All in all, cars have seen stronger year-over-year growth since the beginning of 2018, with year-to-date Nissan car sales having increased by 16.3 percent, and YTD SUV and truck deliveries decreasing by 5.9 percent.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you’ve ever traveled to some of the less developed regions of the world, from parts of Africa and Middle East to Central and South America plus much of Asia, Nissan’s Patrol is part of the landscape.…
If you’ve ever traveled to some of the less developed regions of the world, from parts of Africa and Middle East to Central and South America plus much of Asia, Nissan’s Patrol is part of the landscape. It’s a regular sight on 24-hour news channels as a vehicle of choice in troubled war-torn areas too, albeit painted white with big UN decals on each side, the rugged Nissan SUV capable of going just about anywhere. In fact, in most other jurisdictions the Patrol is as legendary as Toyota’s Land Cruiser, but for reasons unknown it’s never been imported to North America, until recently that is.
If you haven’t already seen one, meet the Nissan Patrol, a.k.a. Armada. In my second home of Manila, Philippines (actually Antipolo, a suburb just east of the city core), the previous generation is still sold as the Patrol Super Safari, whereas this more luxurious version is dubbed Patrol Royale. Most other markets merely sell the new Patrol in various states of trim, just like we do under the Armada nameplate.
Our previous Armada was based on the first-generation Titan pickup truck, which meant it was built at Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi production facility instead of Yukuhashi, Japan, where the new one has been fabricated alongside Infiniti’s version, dubbed QX80, since 2016. To be clear, the current sixth-generation Patrol has been around since 2010, when the Infiniti version arrived on our market as well, while previous Patrols date back to 1951. For this reason I believe Nissan missed an opportunity to rebrand the Armada as the Patrol here in North America, which would have allowed it to tie 65 years (now 67) of heritage into its marketing efforts, but alas they never asked for my opinion.
In similar fashion I can only speak for myself by saying I not only like the looks of the new Armada more than the outgoing model, but also prefer its tougher more truck-like design to the ritzier, more refined QX80. Then again this sentiment changes depending on the day of the week as I quite like both, but on the whole I tend to lean toward rugged, utilitarian styling in my SUVs, rather than elegance. To each ones own, but at least my preference saves money.
The 2018 Armada starts at just $64,998 compared to $75,650 for the 2018 QX80, and while there’s plenty to justify the $10k and change requested for the premium-branded utility, the Armada is nothing to scoff at. This is especially true with my top-line $74,998 Platinum Reserve tester that comes pretty close to matching lower-end QX80s as well as other premium SUVs.
Platinum Reserve trim is new for 2018, last year’s highest echelon of Nissan SUV goodness being the Platinum that I also reviewed here. This “Reserve” badged Armada differentiates itself by adding a stealthier dark chrome to the grille, side mirror caps, door handles, and wheels for a richer look overall, while the interior gains attractive two-tone leather upholstery featuring unique square-quilted perforated inserts and orange contrast stitching on the bolsters, headrests, armrests and most everywhere else leather is applied, as well as authentic looking and feeling matte open-pore woodgrain in key areas around the cabin, not to mention second-row captain’s chairs surrounding a padded centre console trimmed in the same realistic faux wood, black lacquer and leather. It’s certainly a premium experience, and more so than the majority of its competitors.
Weaknesses? The tiny monochromatic multi-information display between the analogue dials of the otherwise attractive primary gauge cluster needs updating, while some of the switchgear could be criticized for being a bit dated in design. Still, it’s all very well put together, the composite materials quite dense and solid feeling, the damping near perfect, with no sloppy wiggle at all for any of the buttons or knobs. Speaking of those rotating controllers, they’re all beautifully finished in metal, some even knurled around their edges for an elegant look and easy grip.
My tester was finished in a beautiful Hermosa Blue metallic contrasted by a lovely Black/Brown cabin motif, but this in mind exterior alternative colour combinations are few with just Superb Black and Pearl White next to the same charcoal and chocolate interior theme, which makes sense in a market as small as ours. Then again, the 10-times-larger U.S. market only adds Forged Copper that we dropped last year, with no additions to interior colourways.
Speaking of our small market (which set a record for growth last year, instead of falling backward like auto sales did in the U.S.), I was surprised to learn that a total of 1,105 Armadas drove off Nissan Canada dealer lots last year, which puts the SUV up a shocking 54.3 percent from calendar 2016 to 2017. Only Chevy’s Tahoe, GMC’s Yukon, and Toyota’s Sequoia saw gains over the same 12 months, but their respective 1.6-, 15.7- and 8.3-percent growth paled in comparison to the Armada’s, while the Chevy Suburban and Ford Expedition actually lost ground by 3.5 and 14.1 percent apiece.
Some could argue the Armada only had one way to go, up, because its sales are significantly lower than the domestic producers, with Ford still number one despite its tumble to 3,204 units, Chevy’s collective Tahoe/Suburban sales of 3,110/2,096 at 5,206, and GMC’s Yukon/Yukon XL deliveries of 3,514/2,788 totaling 6,302 units (basically GM clobbered everyone in the mainstream volume-branded full-size SUV segment with 11,508 units), but Nissan nevertheless sold 350 more units than its Japanese rival, leaving Toyota dead last.
I’m going to guess the majority buying into this class go full load, or at the very least buck up for $71,498 Platinum trim with respect to the Armada. Most everything that comes standard with the Platinum gets raised up to Platinum Reserve trim as well, which means it gets double-stitched leather door trim, heated and ventilated front seats, Nissan’s new Intelligent Rear View Mirror (more on that in a moment), lane departure warning with mitigating assist, blindspot intervention, a rear entertainment system with dual 8.0-inch monitors, a DVD player, remote, two wireless headphones, and audio/video input jacks, plus more.
This all comes on top of an SUV that could easily pass as a premium model thanks to standard features like 20-inch alloys, signature-enhanced LED headlamps, fog lights, power-folding, auto-dimming, heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lights, remote start, proximity access, pushbutton ignition, adaptive cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, a power-adjustable steering column, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink garage door opener, dual-zone auto climate control, rear air conditioning with second-row controls, an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with a 360-degree surround parking monitor featuring Moving Object Detection (and even a front camera that provides multiple viewpoints), navigation with detailed mapping (that was perfectly accurate each time I used it), SiriusXM NavTraffic and NavWeather, 13-speaker Bose audio, satellite radio, a household-style 120-volt AC power outlet, a powered glass moonroof, front and rear parking sensors, 10-way powered driver’s and 8-way powered front passenger’s seats with lumbar support, memory for the driver’s seat, steering wheel and side mirrors, leather upholstery, wood-tone trim, heated front and second-row outboard seats, a powered liftgate, a (very handy yet painfully slow) powered 60/40-split third row, and much more.
Some standard features not yet mentioned that are new for 2018 include a totally revised infotainment interface design that’s more graphically appealing, plus it now includes NissanConnect services, enhanced voice recognition, hands-free text messaging, and there’s now a total of four USB ports throughout the cabin.
Additionally, the Intelligent Rear View Mirror I mentioned earlier can either be used as a regular mirror or a rear-facing camera capable of providing obstruction-free visibility out the back. This is a first in an SUV from a non-luxury brand, and it works well for the most part. Then again it makes cars appear much closer than they really are. For instance, you’ll only see the roof of a small compact car if it pulls up behind you at a stoplight, making it seem as if it’s parked underneath your bumper.
I’d like to see Nissan rework the Intelligent Rear View Mirror to help when hooking up a trailer, as towing is the Armada’s forte. The big SUV comes standard with a tow hitch receiver as well as a seven-pin wiring harness plus trailer brake pre-wiring, allowing up to 3,855 kilos (8,500 lbs) of towing capacity thanks to its substantive girth and the beefy 5.6-litre V8 under hood, which makes a sizeable 390 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque.
It launches quickly off the line due in part to low initial gearing of its seven-speed automatic, while shift lever-actuated manual mode provides a modicum of sportiness. Still, fun as it is to stomp on when taking off and immediately reactive when all four wheels bite into tarmac, gravel, dirt, sand, or just about any other type of ground surface, the Armada is more about comfort than sport.
It truly has a nice ride, which isn’t uncommon amongst premium truck-based SUVs due to their long suspension travel and deep tire sidewalls. The Armada is designed to be comfortable when rock crawling after all, so it’s hardly upset by minor pavement irregularities. In fact, it tracks well around fast-paced corners, not as brilliantly as the QX80, but adeptly enough. It’s an SUV you can drive fast without worrying too much about its tall, obviously high centre of gravity, but you’ll probably want to keep this in check for more than just safety reasons.
Digging too deeply into the throttle may impact your fuel budget more than you’d like, as its 17.5 L/100km city, 12.8 highway and 15.4 combined five-cycle Transport Canada rating is sobering to say the least. Still, it’s friendlier on regular unleaded than the Sequoia and similarly powered GM SUVs, with only the less potent GMs and Ford’s turbocharged V6-powered Expedition providing a substantial gain in efficiency.
I’m going to guess that comfort is more important to Armada buyers than fuel economy, and to that end its front seats are wonderfully accommodating and thoroughly supportive while I had no trouble adjusting them, along with the powered steering column, for an ideal driving position. Part of the Armada’s advantage is a near unparalleled view over surrounding traffic. Visibility is great for rear passengers too, while the second-row captain’s chairs provide comfort that neared those up front, plus more room in every direction than I needed to measure. Likewise the third row is accommodating, providing ample legroom, headroom and width, yet was a bit limiting for foot space, which means the Armada can carry seven as configured or eight in lesser trims.
Likewise you can load it up with most of life’s gear thanks to 470 litres (16.6 cubic feet) of cargo capacity behind the third row, 1,494 litres (49.6 cubic feet) behind the second row and 2,692 litres (95.1 cubic feet) when both rear rows are laid flat, plus additional storage can be found under the load floor. The Armada might be the ultimate camping companion, not to mention the perfect choice for hitting the hardware store after dropping the kids off at school.
Ok, it’s neither the largest in its class nor the most versatile, but it’s one of the most luxurious from a mainstream volume brand and one of the best performers, while this year’s enhanced infotainment system and other updates will help extend its shelf life a little longer. The Armada is also one of the best values when comparing full-size SUVs feature for feature, which is just one more reason you should consider it.