Ask AutoGuide No. 29 – Infiniti QX80 vs. Mercedes-Benz GL350 vs. Lexus LX 570

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Ask AutoGuide No. 29 – Infiniti QX80 vs. Mercedes-Benz GL350 vs. Lexus LX 570
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It’s Christmas time and depending on where you live, snow could be falling and carolers calling. However, depending on your outlook, frozen precipitation is either a beautiful natural phenomenon or a dreadful sign of frigid weather; holiday singers can be a festive reminder of bygone times or guilty of trespassing.

In any event, this week Kristopher is in need of a new vehicle to replace his current transportation, which is decidedly outdated and lacking in any worthwhile amenities. He’s thinking about upgrading to a full-size luxury SUV, partly to appease the misses and partly to keep him from getting frostbite and sciatica on the long, late-night trips he’s required to make.

Kris-KringleOl’ Kris needs something with lots of cargo space and all-weather traction; butt warmers are a must. He’d also like something with abundant seating capacity because apparently he has to transport a lot of people… something about child-sized adults but his e-mail seemed deliberately vague. Pricing isn’t an issue right now, he just wants suggestions, and here are three prominent possibilities.

Suggestion #1 – 2014 Infiniti QX80

Information Card -- Infiniti QX80-2Infiniti’s offering in the luxury SUV segment is the behemoth QX80; it’s the truck formerly known as QX56.

A nicely optioned version with all-wheel drive tips the balance sheet at $80,095, including $995 for shipping and handling. That total has been padded with more than 13 grand in highly desirable options.

The “Theater Package” offers dual seven-inch display screens to rear-seat passengers, heated second-row outboard seats, a wireless remote control and more. The available “Wheel and Tire” package dresses the QX80 in massive 22-inch wheels while the optional split bench seat gives it eight-passenger capacity. The Deluxe Touring and Technology packages round out the list of options and help drivers with things like intelligent cruise control, blind spot monitoring and a mellifluous Bose surround-sound system.

All QX80s are powered by a 5.6-liter V8 engine. This smooth-running powerplant is similar to the one used in lesser Nissan models like the Titan pickup truck and the Armada sport utility vehicle. In this Infiniti application it gains the company’s brilliant VVEL variable valve-lift technology, which boosts output to an even 400 horsepower with 413 lb-ft of torque. It’s matched to a responsive seven-speed automatic transmission.

The QX80 is rated to tow up to 8,500 pounds of junk, so feel free to hook it up to the nearest department store and drag it home for the holidays. That’s impressive capability in a vehicle with such luxurious features.

The QX80 is a comfortable luxo-SUV with plenty of interior space and high-end features, but it does have a few downsides. The styling is more than a little ungainly plus its fuel economy is dreadful. This thing stickers at a paltry 14 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway. According to the EPA, its combined score is just 16 mpg. Long-distance drives are sure to require frequent fill-ups no matter how large the tank is.

Despite its looks and fuel consumption, the QX80 might be the perfect vehicle for the patron saint of breaking and entering as well as dessert theft, but he’ll have to decide for himself. We’re not done yet…

Suggestion #2 – 2014 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC 4MATIC

Information Card -- Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC-2The Infiniti option delivers strong V8-performance along with terrifying consumption to match. If you opt to drive one you’d better bring a trailer… full of fuel. Improving full-size SUV efficiency is the Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC 4MATIC.

This vehicle’s waste-preventing trump card is a 3.0-liter V6 engine. That may not sound like sufficient displacement for a big, honkin’ luxury car on stilts, but bear with us for a minute. Thanks to turbocharging, this small diesel cranks out a walloping 455 lb-ft of torque! Sadly it only delivers a meager 240 horsepower; fortunately though its low-RPM twist kicks like Bruce Lee on speed.

A smooth and responsive seven-speed automatic transmission makes the most of this engine’s output.

On the efficiency front the regal-looking GL-Class stickers at 19 miles per gallon city, 26 highway. Its combined score is a very respectable 22 mpg. Take that QX80!

Base price for the GL350 BlueTEC is about 64 grand, but the one we’re recommending for Mr. Kringle costs $79,755 out the door with $925 in transportation fees added to the bottom line. It includes a host of fancy options including the “Premium 1” package. This adds an 80-gigabyte hard-drive navigation system, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, ambient interior lighting and a 14-way power driver’s seat.

The available lighting package helps drivers see the road ahead with bi-xenon front lamps and adaptive high beams. Another nice addition is the panoramic glass roof, which is pretty self explanatory. A heated steering wheel and three-zone climate control keep driver and passengers alike toasty warm.

Other price-inflating niceties include keyless entry, a rear seat entertainment system and massaging, Multicontour front seats to keep sciatica at bay. Lots of extra features bring the price to nearly 80 large.

The Mercedes GL-350 BlueTEC is a handsome vehicle with chiseled styling and if you can believe it the thing drives as well as it looks; it’s the only vehicle in this trio with a unibody architecture. Its competitors feature old-school body-on-frame construction, which is probably better off road but it results in truck-like handling on pavement. This Benz is rock solid and oozes with refinement; it’s smoother than soft-serve frozen custard.

Suggestion #3 – 2014 Lexus LX 570

Information Card -- Lexus LX 570-2Wowzers, the Lexus LX 570 is EXPENSIVE! Base price for this luxury utility is nearly 83 grand; that’s without ANY options. However, if you want to go whole hog the Luxury Package is a mere $8,365, and why not? It’s the holidays. Optioned accordingly this vehicle’s out-the-door price clocks in at $91,055 including $910 for processing and delivery.

This all-out opulence assault includes buttery-soft semi-aniline leather throughout the interior, heated second-row seats as well as a heated tiller, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and an entertainment system for back-bench riders. For the record, this baby seats eight passengers in ocean-liner comfort.

Some of the standard features this vehicle offers include push-button start, four-zone climate control system and auto-dimming mirrors. Additionally it’s comes with a power tailgate, an adaptive suspension system, bird’s eye maple wood trim and a 14-way power driver’s seat. Yeah, it’s pretty much loaded.

Predictably, the LX 570 is powered by a 5.7-liter V8 engine. It benefits from four valves per cylinder and variable camshaft timing, features that help it deliver a somewhat lackluster 383 horsepower and 403 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission sends power to all four wheels. This should help propel this portly Lexus to 60 miles an hour from a standstill in 7.5 seconds.

One area where this Lexus falls flat on its face is fuel economy. The Infiniti QX80 is quite inefficient, but the LX 570 is even worse. Reading the window sticker it’s expected to return 12 miles per gallon in city driving and a mere 17 on the interstate. Combined its consumption score is just 14 mpg, a figure that’s more painful than having an ingrown toenail removed without anesthesia.

In spite of its jetliner-rivaling economy this Lovely Lexus is sure to jingle Kris’ bells like a 20-something-year-old Mrs. Claus in a miniskirt. In fact all three of these vehicles will get the job done with elegance and grace; they’re perfect for late December deliveries all-around the world.

As always, good luck in your quest for a new family vehicle, Kris, and thanks again for taking the time to Ask AutoGuide.

If you need a little assistance shopping for your next vehicle feel free to do the same. Send a short message to ask@AutoGuide.com. Let us know the basics of what you’re looking for. How many seats do you need? What size of vehicle do you want? How much are you willing to spend? With some of those fundamentals out of the way we’ll get busy to come up with two or three must-see vehicles that you’ll have to put on your test-drive list.

  • TALLO883

    the lexus in the picture is wrong. that is not the lexus LX570. that is the lexus GX460