Infiniti's QX4 is more than a gussied up Nissan Pathfinder.
A year ago, the QX4 underwent aggressive exterior styling changes, got a new and more powerful engine and additional equipment that absolutely transformed this vehicle into a true luxury sport-utility.
For 2002 the QX4 continues to improve with new interior enhancements and available options.
4x2 ($34,150); 4x4 ($35,550)
The Infiniti QX4 projects a solid presence. Its front end is clean with expansive grille openings. Fog lights are incorporated into a single-piece lens. Compound, high-intensity-discharge, xenon headlights produce a whiter light while using less energy than halogen lights.
From the side, the styling strongly suggests traditional Infiniti. The QX4 is derived from the Nissan Pathfinder and its physical architecture projects that. Another indication of this is the handle for the rear side door, which is not in the door's lower panel but notched flush into the trailing edge of the window frame, well above the QX4's beltline. The lower-body, side cladding is beefy, the better to link the fuller front and rear bumpers. It looks solidly planted.
The QX4's split-level rear liftgate combines substance with softly sculpted smooth lines.
Infiniti QX4 offers a roomy, comfortable cabin.
Comfortable seats with leather seating surfaces are standard on both models. Plastic trim designed to look like birds-eye-maple brightens the center console, dash and door panels. Like Infiniti sedans, the QX4 has a classic-faced, analog clock. The airplane-like overhead console features a drop-down receptacle to hold sunglasses. Tall drivers need to be careful to avoiding bumping heads.
The QX4 is a bit roomier up front than the Jeep Grand Cherokee and nearly as roomy as the Land Rover Discovery Series II. Front seat headroom for QX4 is 39.5 inches, compared with 39.7 inches in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and 40.4 inches in the Land Rover Discovery Series II. Front seat leg room is 41.7 inches in the QX4, 41.4 inches in the Grand Cherokee and 42.3 inches in the Discovery.
The optional navigation system finds the nearest service station or hotel. Its bird's-eye view display takes the standard paper map-type plan view and lays it down in the screen, presenting the route almost three-dimensionally from the perspective of a bird flying over it. Drawing from the database, the display shows depictions of hotels, hospitals, and structures along the route.
Rear-seat passengers don't fare quite as well as they do in the Jeep or Land Rover. Rear headroom in the QX4 measures 37.5 inches, while the Grand Cherokee delivers 39.5 inches, and the Discovery provides 40.1 inches. Rear-seat passengers don't enjoy a lot of foot space, but they do get reclining seatbacks.
Front-seat passengers are protected not only by supplemental side-impact airbags but also by so-called active head restraints, engineered to thrust upward and forward to cushion occupants' heads in the event of a violent rear-ender. Rear outboard-seat occupants enjoy three-point belts and head restraints. But occupants of the rear center seat get a lap belt only and no head restraint.
Cargo capacity with the rear seat folded up is better than that of the Jeep or Land Rover: 85 cubic feet in the QX4, 72.3 cubic feet in the Grand Cherokee, 63.3 cubic feet in the Discovery. Storage bins are located in the cargo area.
The running boards are more hassle than convenience. For most people, the QX4 doesn't sit high enough to need them, so their primary function devolves to depositing road grime on occupants pants' legs/hosiery.
Infiniti QX4 delivers a quiet, comfortable ride, absorbing potholes and other bumps well. Very little wind noise intrudes, although the standard roof rack generates a modicum of whistle.
The 24-valve 3.5-liter V6 is rated at 240 horsepower and 265 foot-pounds of torque at 3,200 rpm. This puts the QX4 among the leaders in horsepower in its class. With an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 15/19 miles per gallon city/highway, fuel economy is on a par with or better than the competition, equaling the Grand Cherokee V8 model's and exceeding the Discovery's 13/17 mpg.
Should you need it, this is a capable vehicle off road. It has an ultra-low transfer gear, essential not only for safe descents of unpaved tracks but also for walking-speed ascents of rock-strewn trails, which attests at least to an intent by its designers and engineers that the QX4 be perceived as more than merely a pretending dirt-tracker.
Adapted from a high-performance sport coupe available only in Japan, the QX4's four-wheel-drive system is fully automatic. When road conditions change the driver doesn't have to do a thing except drive. A collection of electronic sensors monitor what's happening at each axle and direct power where it can best be used. For true off-road travel, there's a manually selected, ultra-low set of gears permitting the optimal application of horsepower and torque at walking speeds. The 2WD model boasts the same ground clearance as the 4WD model, a quite respectable 8.3 inches.
Despite all its luxury features and adornments, the Infiniti QX4 is still a sport-utility vehicle. Although much of the roughness normally associated with truck-based utility vehicles has been squelched and upholstered over, the QX4's center of gravity is immutably higher than a car's. So, like any SUV, it leans more when turning, no matter the speed or road surface.
The QX4 comes with disc brakes in front and drum brakes in the rear, rather than the superior four-wheel disc brakes.
Infiniti QX4 delivers a luxury experience. It looks like a luxury vehicle, both outside and inside.
Infiniti buyers should expect to be treated as luxury buyers. Infiniti has worked hard at continuing to improve the relationship buyers have with its dealers, and generally with success. Among the Infiniti benefits: Free loaner cars or drop-offs and pick-ups are offered while service is being performed.