New Car/Review

Infiniti

Infiniti QX4 (2001)

SEE ALSO: Infiniti Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 35,580
     Price As Tested                                    $ 39,625
     Engine Type              DOHC 24-valve 3.5 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 214 cid/3500 cc
     Horsepower                                   240 @ 6000 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               265 @ 3200 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  106.3"/72.4"/183.1"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4527 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  21.1 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          P245/65R17 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/five-door
     Domestic Content                                  5 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.48

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            15/19/17
     0-60 MPH                                                9.0
     Maximum cargo capacity                      85.5 cubic feet
     Maximum towing capacity                         5000 pounds
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

The Infiniti QX4 began life in 1997 as an answer to the auto market's demand for luxurious, leather-swathed SUVs. It sold well. But for many customers, the standard all-wheel drive system was overkill.

For 2001, QX4 is offered for the first time with two-wheel drive, too, along with a fix to its most glaring shortcoming: lack of power.

OUTSIDE - It's not hard to tell that the QX4 is a Nissan Pathfinder in formal attire, but external body pieces such as integrated side steps, fender flares and ample amounts of side cladding make QX4 somewhat unique. The QX4 benefits from a redesigned grille, fascia, and front and rear bumpers. Lighting has changed too, with new high-intensity-discharge (HID) xenon headlights. Also, new fog lamp/turn indicator clusters are no longer stacked on top of each other, which made it look like the "Family Truckster" Chevy Chase drove in the movie National Lampoon's Vacation. The gaping air inlet below the grille has been narrowed somewhat, and the roof rack design is new. The standard wheel-tire combination features 16-inch three-spoke alloys and all-weather tires, though our tester came with a 17-inch setup. And it's nice to know that a full-sized spare with a matching wheel is standard.

INSIDE - Infiniti states that the interior is all-new for 2001, and the company is correct for the most part. The basic shape of the dashboard hasn't changed, but the look and feel has been improved. A main mission of Infiniti was to differentiate QX4 from Pathfinder and inside is where they differ most. To begin, QX4 comes standard with soft leather upholstery, gathered and bunched in an upscale sort of way. There is also new, brighter wood trim throughout the cabin, and a steering wheel that is wrapped half in hide and half covered in matching wood trim. Inset in the dash, just above the center console, is an optional navigation screen that seems to be all the rage these days, while an optional entertainment system that features a six-inch flip-down video screen will entertain those seated in the back seat. Climbing into the back seat can sometimes be a chore, due to the narrow door openings, and three-across in back is cramped at best.

ON THE ROAD - Infiniti has added power to the QX4. The new powerplant is an all-aluminum 3.5-liter V6 that puts out an impressive 240 horsepower and 265 lb-ft or torque. Such a massive jump in power would lead one to expect a massive increase in performance, but the real story is that this amount of power is what the 4500-pound QX4 needed in the first place. The engine features such advanced hardware as a variable-length intake system, electronic throttle control and lightweight pistons. However, the most noticeable improvement is the effortless delivery of power compared to that of the 3.0-liter engine of last year. Mated to this new unit is a four-speed automatic transmission and all-mode four-wheel drive in the case of our tester. This system proportions the torque between the front and rear axles, so traction is assured on slippery surfaces. It also offers a low range for more assertive off-road prowess.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - QX4 rides on a unibody platform that Infiniti calls MonoFrame. It provides a great foundation for this modern SUV and keeps the ride height just high enough for ample ground clearance, and just low enough to make it easy to climb inside. Its independent strut-type front suspension teams well with a five-link rear setup to give a well-controlled, compliant ride that doesn't transmit every bump and jolt to the cabin. Coil springs and specially-calibrated shocks help in this area, as do the oversize tires that feature a relatively soft compound. Speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering is standard, as are front disc/rear drum brakes with a four-wheel anti-lock braking system. Handling is secure and stable, but not overly impressive. Overall, the QX4 handling is about on par with others in its class.

SAFETY - Dual front and side-impact airbags, ABS and pipe-style steel side-door beams are standard.

OPTIONS - Premium Package (17-inch alloy wheels, P245/65R17 tires, wood/leather-wrapped steering wheel, driver's memory seat, steering wheel audio controls), $600; sunroof, $950; navigation system, $2000.

 

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