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New Car/Review


1999 Infiniti QX4

By Tom Hagin

Infiniti Full Line Video footage (4:38) 28.8, 56k, or 200k

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 35,550
     Price As Tested                                    $ 37,995
     Engine Type              SOHC 12-valve 3.3 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 200 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                                     4311 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  21.1 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                           245/70R16 All-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                    Front-engine/all-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/five-door
     Domestic Content                               Five-percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.48

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            15/19/18          
     0-60 MPH                                       12.0 Seconds
     Maximum payload capacity                         795 pounds
     Maximum towing capacity                         5000 pounds

     * Sequential multi-point  fuel injection

The Infiniti QX4 came into the Nissan breach in 1997, a period of hard times for the company, and it set the stage for a corporate renaissance. For '99 the QX4 comes in only one degree of trim.

OUTSIDE - QX4 has evolved from its crude, boxy roots into a relatively roomy, luxurious, semi-rugged SUV. When the new QX4 platform was introduced, it was a world apart from its truck-like Nissan predecessor. It's quiet, controlled and carries many distinctive QX4 features. There's lots of bodyside cladding, fender flares, side steps and a huge, gaping air inlet under the two-slot grille. Also distinctive is its unique hood, rear hatch, bumpers and stylish 16-inch, three-spoke alloy wheels. A set of oversize fog lights reside just under the parking lamps, which flank that same wide-mouth air scoop. All of this add-on equipment is painted body color, although strips of black trim surround the windows and cover the roof rack.

INSIDE - Inside the QX4, there's lots of luxury equipment. Its leather-covered seats are soft and supportive, and three people can squeeze into the back seat, but just barely. The dashboard is simple, yet luxurious and designed with ergonomics in mind. As an example, the buttons for the climate-control system are neatly stacked above the sound system controls, where both units are easy to reach. An overhead console features handy items such as a compass, outside temperature gauge, map lights and a storage nook for sunglasses. Also located in the driver's side sunvisor are the HomeLink universal transmitter buttons, which can be programmed to activate a variety of today's home electronic devices. Standard features include power windows, door locks and outside mirrors, cruise control, a Bode-brand stereo and keyless entry. Our tester came with the Sunroof Package that adds a sunroof, six-disc CD changer and a wind deflector atop the rear hatch. Also, a premium Sport Package added heated front seats and a few upgrade mechanical items.

ON THE ROAD - QX4 is powered by the a 3.3 liter, single-overhead cam, 12-valve V6 that produces 168 horsepower and 196 pound-feet of torque. And while its horsepower ratings are quite a bit less than most of its competition, its high torque figure gives it good off-the-line jump. After it winds to high rpms, however, there is some harshness and vibrations that make their way into the cabin. An electronic four-speed automatic transmission is the sole gearbox available, and it shifts smoothly and imperceptibly in most conditions, but sometimes has a tendency to "hunt" for gears on long, uphill grades. For all-weather traction, a very sophisticated all-wheel drive system includes settings for two-wheel drive, Auto AWD and locked AWD. The difference is that 2WD and Auto can be used on the street during everyday driving. The Auto setting is designed to take the guesswork out of whether or not 4WD is needed, while locked AWD is for snow and mud, and cannot be used on dry pavement. Low-range 4WD is available via a floor-mounted lever.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - When the QX4 appeared, Nissan abandoned the traditional truck-like, body-on-frame design in favor of more "civilized" unibody construction. The resulting handling benefits far outweigh any off-road prowess that may have been lost. Chassis stiffness became 2.9 times stronger in twisting and lengthwise bending resistance is 2.3 times greater than the conventional ladder-frame design. Its on-road handling is quite good for a top-heavy 4X4, even during emergency lane change maneuvers, and the ride is smooth and composed, much like a car. The suspension is basic SUV: an independent front suspension and a solid rear axle. The rear, however, uses a five-link system and coil springs to keep it secure and smooth riding. Its power rack-and pinion steering is responsive, while front disc/rear drum brakes with ABS provide stopping power.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard airbags, side-impact door beams and ABS are standard.

OPTIONS - Sunroof Preferred Package (sunroof, six-disc CD changer, rear window deflector) $1,250; Premium Sport Package (heated front seats, heavy-duty battery, rear limited-slip differential) $700.