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Infiniti QX4 (1998)

15 October 1997

The Infiniti QX4 Sport Utility debuted in 1997, and though some will say it is nothing more than an upgraded/upscale PathFinder, it is luxury version of the Nissan stalwart.

The Qx4 has a plush interior, soft leather seats, top of the line stereo, larger brakes for '98, and a new security system. It is lucky for the buyers in this market segment that almost nobody drives an AWD off road, because the QX4 could conceivably get mired down due to lack of power.

Sure, the sporty appearing SU--especially in Coronado Green mist--has unibody construction, strut front, and five-link rear suspension, but at 3700 lbs, it also has an anemic 168 hp V6 with a four speed automatic trans--it just doesn't get-it-on in highway passing situations. Still worse, the 15mpg highway EPA can put a damper on any 400 mile trip, budget-wise.

Yes, it's true, J.D. Power ranked QX4 best bet in the compact sport utility segment for vehicles priced at $35,500 and up. For 1998, QX4 prices start at $35,500 and there are luxury packages available which include a limited slip differential, heated seats, sunroof, 6-disc CD autochanger, and rear window wind deflector.

If you purchase the QX4 with a mindset similar to Range Rover buyers ("we ain't never going off road, but we sure do look good going down the road"), then you have a winner. Luxury, looks and all the proper power controls you'd want in a $37,000 vehicle but if you are planning a trip, don't count on any 100mph cruises (it will do that if you let it out for a looong time), and gas up at home at your favorite econo-gas retailer. Also, stay out of states like Nevada where $29.00 for a fill-up of the CHEAPEST gas is the M.O. of the day for desert bandits.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel