The luxury SUV market is small, but heavily contended as each automaker tries to find its strengths and use them to exploit their rival’s weaknesses. In this match-up, we pit the 2014 Infiniti QX80 against the 2014 Lexus LX570, both full-sized luxury sport utilities; but these big, luxurious utes couldn’t be more different.
Our comparison here is not so much to show that one of these SUVs is better than the other, but instead to show the very different tacks that the automakers took when designing them. In a nutshell, the Infiniti QX80 was designed from the ground up as a luxury sport utility with capability while the Lexus LX570 was designed from the ground up to be a capable off-pavement machine with luxury fittings.
These two different approaches resulted into two very different SUV offerings that are competing in the same market. Most automakers choose one path or the other for their full-sized SUVs and it’s a difference that most in the automotive press ignore. Let’s look at each of five major points of comparison for these luxury SUV contenders and how they match up. Full reviews of each vehicle are available and linked below.
The interiors of both the QX80 and the LX570 are very well done. In terms of overall comfort, the Infiniti takes the prize, however, as it’s a far more comfortable everyday driving experience by comparison. The fit and finish of the Infiniti is more plush, the driver’s ergonomics are more in-tune with what a luxury buyer would expect, and despite the huge number of buttons surrounding the cockpit, things are generally simplified when used daily. Finally, the infotainment in the Infiniti QX80 is easier to use when compared to the good, but still clunky infotainment the Lexus offerings include.
In contrast to the QX80, the Lexus LX570 has a more rugged feel to it. It’s a plush, well-made interior, but the refinement comes secondary to the truck-like nature of the SUV and its extreme offroad capability. There are a lot of buttons and switches, especially down near the gear shift, that are aimed specifically at all-terrain use and some of the settings (such as the auto-lowering of the suspension when the vehicle is parked to allow easier entrance and egress) require that you consult the manual to figure out what they are for. Most of the buttons and switches are not for infotainment, as in the QX80, but are instead for drive settings.
Finally, seating arrangements, although set for seven or eight (depending on configuration for either SUV) are another big difference. The QX80 has fold-flat seating throughout, with the second row folding forward into the backs of the front row while the third row folds flat to the floor for a continuous cargo space from front-to-rear. The LX570, on the other hand, has the third row folding down, but not flat, or being turned upwards to the walls of the cargo space. Either way, this takes up space in the cargo area, reducing the amount of stuff that can be put in (see photo below). The tailgate and lower loading platform (especially with the suspension lowered) are big pluses for the Lexus. Still, cargo utility goes to the Infiniti.
The differences are the first major indication of the difference in focus for the two vehicles. From the exterior of the vehicles, this difference is far more subtle.
From the exterior, the two vehicles are similar, but very different. The Lexus LX570 looks much like its Toyota 4Runner brethren in shape, with a square-ish body style and truck-like appearance. The Infiniti QX80, however, has the general roundness of hood and grille common to most Infiniti vehicles, but is otherwise still a square box – something nearly all full-sized SUVs like this have in common.
In overall appearance, however, the Infiniti’s round edges and curvature give a more luxurious appearance than do the squared edges of the LX570. As with most design, of course, this is largely subjective and some may prefer one over the other.
There are small things that denote one as an offroad machine of luxury and the other as a luxury cruiser capable of going off the pavement, but they are subtle. Comparing the Lexus vs Infiniti, the larger wheel options of the Infiniti are not for the offroad enthusiast while the squareness of the wheel wells and clearance height of the Lexus denote its focus on getting through tough terrain.
Under the Hood
Both the Infiniti QX80 and the Lexus LX570 are powered by large-displacement, eight-cylinder engines. They both have roughly the same power output, towing capacity, and fuel mileage. The only major difference is in fuel capacity, which goes to the Lexus with its range of roughly 350-400 miles per tank versus the Infiniti’s sub-300 miles per (using real-world estimations based on our experience driving them).
Lexus vs Infiniti On the Road
Comparing the two on the road brings another basket of apples and oranges. The Infinity QX80 is far more comfortable and smooth on the road than is the Lexus LX570. The Lexus has a real truck-like feel and less maneuverability than the Infiniti does, owing to its tougher suspension and higher ride height.
In town, both have good acceleration and strong visibility for the driver, but the QX80 is easier to park, absorbs potholes and bumps more cleanly, etc. Both SUVs, however, do exude the “large and in charge” appeal that big vehicle drivers enjoy.
On the highway, the QX80 is quieter inside, has a smoother ride over the road, and just feels more luxurious overall. The LX570 gives the impression that it’s not really made for the highway. That’s secondary to its prime directive: offroad.
Lexus vs Infiniti Off the Road
Here, the basket swaps places, but still contains apples and oranges. The QX80 is capable and sure-footed, but doesn’t have near the extreme capability or assurance that the LX570 gives. The Lexus ignores nearly all obstacles in its path, traversing whatever terrain you steer it into with ease. It gives the offroader the kind of confidence that other extreme machines known for offroad, like Jeep and the Toyota Land Cruiser series, give.
In comparison, the Infiniti QX80 is confident in light and medium offroad and bad weather, but is not a hill climber or sand digger like the LX570 can be.
Final Conclusions on the QX80 vs LX570
In the end, what we’re seeing here is the divergence in though that occurs in the luxury SUV market. Some, such as the Lexus, the Rover series, and Jeep makes, focus on capability off the road with on-road presence and interior fit and finish being secondary. Others, like the Infiniti, Acura, Lincoln and others, are more on-road and interior focused with offroad capability being secondary.
The difference is one worth noting as many in the automotive press ignore it, instead focusing heavily on the individual capabilities rather than the overall market the product aims for. Sport utility buyers should understand the difference and know what they’re looking for when shopping for a luxury SUV.