Mick McCarthy's side trailed at the break after Dan Shittu headed Rangers ahead from just eight yards.
But Sunderland were level one minute after the break as Andy Welsh struck a sweet volley into the bottom corner.
Dean Whitehead cut back for substitute Chris Brown to make it 2-1, and Julio Arca pounced after Marcus Stewart's shot was saved to complete the win.
QPR boss Ian Holloway:"I'm not a happy man. The players talked about concentration; I talked about desire.
"We had some great chances from set-pieces, but some players lacked that bit of nastiness to get in there.
"In the second half, they came at us like a red-and-white swarm and showed unbelievable desire."
Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy:"I told them they were awful and I threw my notes away at half-time.
"I used a torrent of bad language in the dressing room, before we set about discussing how we could improve things.
"I used a torrent of bad language in the dressing room, before we set about discussing how we could improve."
QPR: Royce, Bignot, Shittu, Davies, Padula, Rowlands (Sturridge 34), Santos, Bircham (Miller 87), Cook, Gallen, Furlong, Sturridge (Cureton 61).
Subs Not Used: Rossi, Baidoo.
Booked: Furlong, Cook.
Goals: Shittu 22.
Sunderland: Myhre, Wright, Caldwell, Breen, Arca, Whitehead, Robinson, Whitley (Brown 42), Welsh (Danny Collins 58), Stewart (Thornton 77), Elliott.
Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Bridges.
Booked: Brown, Whitehead.
Goals: Welsh 46, Brown 63, Arca 75.
Ref: P Dowd (Staffordshire).