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You might assume the 2022 Infiniti QX80’s interior is filled with outdated technology from when it launched here about 10 years ago, but that’s not entirely true. You see, despite the rest of the car carrying over from the previous model year, the 2022 model year QX80 enjoys a refreshed interior.
While this interior is updated, there’s no need to get overly excited. Nissan put the Armada through a mid-cycle refresh last year, and the QX80 essentially cribs all of its new bits directly from the Nissan. We’ve already tested the Armada, so we had an idea about what to expect when the refreshed QX80 landed at 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-res 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-only affair.
The new look of this tall and vast center stack doesn’t jive perfectly with the QX80’s flowy, rounded interior design, but that’s what you get when part of the interior is updated and the rest is left to carryover. Straight, strong lines dominate the center stack, complemented by rectangular vents. Meanwhile, rounded wood trim flows out of this brutalist center stack in a jarring manner that makes the interior look like two different designers worked on it separately, then had their work combined.
Functionally, the new parts of the interior are just fine. The new single touchscreen and its supporting user interface is a welcome update over the old dual-screen infotainment system that’s still found in other Infinitis (it had only just received that system for 2020). Its large, width-oriented and mounted higher for easy viewing, plus the presence of supporting physical knobs and buttons make vital controls easy to use and adjust. The odd storage compartment in the dash houses the wireless phone charger, and the 12V outlet is hidden in there alongside it. We enjoyed the presence of a wireless phone charger, but it didn’t charge our phones quickly, and the phone’s movement on the mat would sometimes cause it to stop charging altogether. Surprisingly, the QX80 is fitted with a camera rearview mirror, which was a nice surprise to see. With folks in all the rows and the third row headrests up, visibility rearward is greatly enhanced by this feature.
The black wood trim used in our test car looked nice, but placing it around the rim of the steering wheel is a bad move. It’s far too slick (especially in the cold), and we’d greatly prefer the feel of leather around the whole rim. This steering wheel is also the old style of wheel from Infiniti, which means its 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 over and twist the knob on the dash.
Other tech that could use a heavy freshening is the instrument cluster that is part-analog, part-digital. It’s the same as before, and it just looks old. If you value simplicity in a cluster, this one is 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 come with configurable all-digital clusters.
The seating position creates an odd conundrum. Taller folks will be fine, but anyone shorter than average could face an uncomfortable time. The seats themselves sit up so high that even in their lowest setting, your elbows don’t comfortably reach the armrests. It’s an odd and rather unenjoyable quirk to this SUV, so make sure to get in and drive it to see if the position works for you before buying.
The quilted seats themselves are some of the flattest, widest thrones we’ve been on, and they look quite nice in this dark tan color with black contrast piping. Our test car was equipped with the second-row captain’s chairs that are separated by a large center console. Storage is acceptable here with a relatively deep cubby. You also get USB outlets, heated seats (but not cooled) and your own climate zone.
What is far less acceptable is the tiny and uncomfortable third row. The floor height dramatically moves upward back there, and the result is a brutal knees-in-the-face experience for adults and teens. It’d be fine to have kids ride in the way back, but no adult is going to be comfortable past a minute or two. This experience is poor enough in a vacuum, but when you compare it to other three-row luxury SUVs, it’s just downright bad. Any of the American full-size SUVs will let you ride in comfort in that third row, so angle your shopping that direction if you need the added utility.
Infiniti ultimately just needs to completely redesign the QX80 to make it more competitive in this loaded segment of full-size luxury SUVs. Now that the Lexus LX 600 is finally new again, the QX80 is the last one left still hanging out in a bygone time. This minor tech and center stack refresh keeps it clinging on to relevancy for a short period of time, but it largely just serves as a reminder that the rest of the SUV needs the same amount of attention, and it needed it yesterday.
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