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New Car/Review 1997 INFINITI QX4

By Matt/Bob Hagin


SEE ALSO: Infiniti Buyer's Guide


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 35,550
     Price As Tested                                    $ 37,695
     Engine Type                             3.3 Liter V6 w/SFI*
     Engine Size                                 201 cid/3275 cc
     Horsepower                                   168 @ 4800 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               196 @ 2800 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  106.3"/72.4"/183.9"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4280 Pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  21.1 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                      245/70R16
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.48


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            15/19/17
     0-60 MPH                                       12.7 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                     18.9 seconds @ 72.4 mph
     Max towing capacity                                5000 lbs
     * Sequential fuel injection

(According to Bob Hagin, the sport/utility vehicle business is very hot and very profitable for automakers. Matt Hagin agrees, and says it's especially lucrative for those makers who aim for the high-end market. This week the Hagins review Infiniti's entry, the QX4.)

MATT - In the past couple of years, there's been a rush by the auto- makers to get in on the sport/utility vehicle craze and now Infiniti has gotten there, too. It's gene pool obviously spawned its Nissan sibling, the Pathfinder, but there's enough upscale differences to make it attractive to carriage-trade buyers who have developed a taste for roughing it. The only interior options are heated front seats, a power tilt-and-slide sun roof, power-operated tilt steering and the leather upholstery color, since there's no cloth seating available.

BOB - I have mixed emotions about all those creature comforts, Matt. To me a sport/utility vehicle is primarily designed to go either into rough terrain or over very inhospitable roads. And despite its fancy trimmings, this QX4 seems capable of getting its occupants over that type of terrain with a minimum of fuss and bother. It has a three- position control knob on the dash that allows the driver to engage rear-wheel-drive around town and during normal highway conditions. Another position powers an electronically-controlled system that senses any differences in how well the tires are gripping the road. If one of the wheels begins to spin on icy, wet or gravelly roads, it applies more power to the tires that are able to grip. That way, when the 4WD system doesn't need to work, it reverts to 2WD, which saves gas and keeps tire scrub to a minimum. And what's really amazing is that it all happens so quickly and smoothly, the driver can't even feel the system working.

MATT - I know that you don't like the idea of going off-road, Dad, but the QX4 also has a position on the drive control switch that locks all the wheels together. In addition, there's a floor-mounted lever that puts the whole thing into super-low gearing for grinding through sand or across streams. The one we tested had the optional limited-slip rear differential, which would be a big help in crawling through the boondocks, although Tom and I didn't have the time or the opportunity to try it out. All QX4s carry the Nissan 3.3 liter, single overhead cam V6 that seems to have been tuned for good mid-speed power, not for blinding acceleration. But the QX4 really shines during everyday driving. It's heavy on the "sport" part of sport/utility, which means it handles around town much like a sedan - except that it's much taller. The Bose sound system is outstanding and was custom-designed so that everyone inside gets the same level of listening quality, even at full blast.

BOB - That doesn't mean a whole lot to me Matt since it's well-known that I have a tin ear. The best thing I found about the sound system was that the controls were easy to reach and were close to the heater and air conditioning knobs. And they were all in logical places so I didn't have to fumble around trying to find them. The rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split in case the owner wants to pick up some 2x4 fence boards on the way home from the office. And if he or she wants to get a bunch of concrete to pour around the fence posts or make a quick trip to the dumps, the QX4 is capable of towing 5000 pounds of the stuff when its equipped with the proper trailering package.

MATT - Somehow I don't think that the average QX4 owner is going to be making garbage runs, Dad, since the company is aiming for the high- income buyer. But the owner of a QX4 will be happy to know that the thing can pull some impressive loads - like maybe a boat or travel trailer. The company's goals also include having its dealers make Infiniti owners feel like honored guests when they bring their vehicles in for service. A friend of mine works as a line-mechanic at our local Infiniti dealership and he says that the policy really works.

BOB - That's the way it was when I worked as a dealership mechanic when I was young, Matt. The customer was always right and we always washed the cars and vacuumed them out, too.

MATT - I've heard that those Packard dealerships were great, Dad.