DRIVEN: Vroom with a View


The voice on the other end politely thanks me again for talking to her, and assures me if there’s anything I need in the future to not hesitate and call. She’s always here.

Thanks, Erica.

India Higgs Boson Angst

A portrait of Indian scientist Satyendranath Bose, is displayed at the Bangiya Vigyan Parishad or the Bengal Science Society founded by Bose in Kolkata, India, Tuesday, July 10, 2012. While much of the world was celebrating the international cooperation that led to last week's breakthrough in identifying the existence of the Higgs boson particle, many in India were smarting over what they saw as a slight against one of their greatest scientists. Media covering the story gave lots of credit to British physicist Peter Higgs for theorizing the elusive subatomic "God particle," but little was said about Satyendranath Bose, the Indian after whom the boson is named. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

India Higgs Boson Angst

A woman and a child walk past the the No. 22, Iswar Mil Lane house where Indian scientist Satyendranath Bose, lived in Kolkata, India, Tuesday, July 10, 2012. While much of the world was celebrating the international cooperation that led to last week's breakthrough in identifying the existence of the Higgs boson particle, many in India were smarting over what they saw as a slight against one of their greatest scientists. Media covering the story gave lots of credit to British physicist Peter Higgs for theorizing the elusive subatomic "God particle," but little was said about Satyendranath Bose, the Indian after whom the boson is named. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

India Higgs Boson Angst

This undated photo of a painting provided by the Bangiya Vigyan Parishad or the Bengal Science Society in Kolkata, India shows Indian scientist Satyendranath Bose. While much of the world was celebrating the international cooperation that led to last week's breakthrough in identifying the existence of the Higgs boson particle, many in India were smarting over what they saw as a slight against one of their greatest scientists. Media covering the story gave lots of credit to British physicist Peter Higgs for theorizing the elusive subatomic "God particle," but little was said about Satyendranath Bose, the Indian after whom the boson is named. (AP Photo/ Bangiya Vigyan Parishad)

That’s the second time she’s said the same thing, it’s probably scripted, but there’s emotion behind it.

After all, this 2014 Infiniti QX80 is awfully lonely with just one person in here. It’s the stadium among family vehicles, with seating for seven, and enough cargo space to carry my swelling emotions.

Erica answered my question, “Do I get the mail today?”

“No” has never sounded better, really.

Strictly speaking, Erica is part of Infiniti’s Personal Assistant program, a four-year courtesy program Infiniti buyers are treated to for their purchase. You get help with anything from directions to dinner reservations, maintenance questions to, “Do I get mail today?”

The conduit to Erica is a magnificent wagon. A big, expensive, lush with burled wood, sprayed with screens, pulsating with Bose surround sound, and a likely target for Dorito fingers and lost lunchboxes, the QX80 is out of my league. The QX80 is most definitely a family vehicle, but I’m making dinner reservations for one here. Can you recommend a place for me, Erica?

I can’t imagine filling all of the seats this car has. The four captain’s chairs and one third-row bench of the 2014 Infiniti QX80 requires prolific loins. Being that I’m in my early thirties, that level of procreation would require stability well into my forties, and I’m lucky if I can plan ahead to lunch tomorrow. Luxury on a grand scale doesn’t describe this car; luxury on fertility drugs maybe comes close.

To that end, Infiniti offers the QX80 with hydraulic-assisted suspension system that levels out the corners to keep fruit juices in the cups. Dubbed Hydraulic Body Motion Control, the system works at the corners to level off inside suspensions to keep the body — and its passengers flat. That’s key when you consider the QX80’s architecture is based from the Nissan Patrol, a hardcore off-roader not sold here in the states. I’ve seen Patrols at full throat: balloon tires, jacks, suspension lifts and a roof rack you can sleep on to keep from being eaten by bears. That is to say, the body is extremely tall, but so is its center of gravity. To keep the car from looking like a Weeble in the corner, expensive suspension tricks need to happen or you’ll have a car full of seasick kiddos heading up to the mountains. There’s more hardcore family features in here, too. Blind-spot monitoring and intervention (after all you’re driving a battleship), backup collision warning and intervention (the USS Regan needs more than just rear-view mirrors, you know), lane departure warning and intervention (this thing is really big) and Bluetooth connectivity. Intelligent cruise control can even slow and stop the car in heavy traffic without cruise control activated, just in case you’re dodging Cheetos from the rear seat.

Erica, how do I get a family of my own?

Motivating the three-ton beast isn’t a simple matter either. Nissan’s biggest gas powerplant, a 5.6-liter V8 is planted up front to deliver 400-horsepower to the luxury wagon through all four wheels. A six-speed automatic shuffles through cogs, although there’s no combination of gears and cylinders that’ll keep the big Infiniti modest on fuel. The QX80 is generously rated by the EPA at 14/20 mpg in city/highway.

Modesty really isn’t its forte, though. The big SUV was built to be noticed by the crowd who doesn’t mind having kids and showing off in the parking lot. For that reason, I can appreciate the high, commanding seating position and the gymnasium-sized interior, even if I’m not making use of the space. The QX80 isn’t a car that you’d likely drive alone, for obvious ecological and economical reasons. At a clip of nearly $80,000 as tested, it’s not for city commuters looking for a work-and-home car. If money and mileage aren’t large concerns, it’s a family room on wheels.

Erica, what are you doing tonight?

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