2002 Infiniti QX4

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2001 Infiniti QX4

This 2001 review is representative of model years 2001 to 2003.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

Slick, luxury sport-utility vehicle finally gets sufficient horsepower.
Pros:
  • Nicely redone
  • Powerful new V6
  • Sleek styling
  • Posh
  • Nifty 4-wheel drive
Cons:
  • Low fuel economy
  • Nearly useless running boards
  • Narrow rear-door openings

The 2001 QX4 luxury sport-utility vehicle from Nissan's upscale Infiniti division gets its first major redesign since introduced as a 1997 model.

There is bolder front styling with a new front grille and bumper, high-intensity-discharge Xenon headlights and new integrated fog lights and turn signals. There's also a new rear fascia.

The interior has a redone instrument panel with electro-fluorescent gauge illumination, new console—and a new navigation system. Body-color side cladding with continuous integrated fender flares and body color "step rails" give the new QX4 a sportier look.

But those step rails—you can call them "running boards"—are virtually useless unless used by tiny feet and just end up getting clothes dirty if you're not careful. Besides, the QX4 has a fairly low floor and thus is easy enough for most to enter or exit—although rear-door openings impede entry and exit.

Very Well Equipped
The $34,150-$35,550 QX4 feels solidly built and has a strong luxury feel. It's so well equipped that the user-friendly $2,000 navigation system is among few options.

You now can even get heated rear seats in the $600 Heated Seats Package and a $600 Premium Package with a good-looking faux wood/leather steering wheel and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The most valuable items in the Premium Package are slightly larger (17-inch) alloy wheels with 65-series tires.

Other desirable options are a $950 sunroof and a new 6-speaker Bose audio system with AM/FM/cassette and in-dash 6-disc CD changer and video cassette player.

There's also a new rear-wheel-drive model for those who do not live in Snowbelt areas or who don't want their shiny new luxury sport ute scratched during off-road driving.

Major Engine Change
But the major change is a new 3.5-liter V6 that develops 240 horsepower and makes the QX4 somewhat of a hot-rod sport ute. The previous model had only a 3.3-liter SOHC 170-horsepower V6 with lower torque. It barely provided adequate performance for the 4,000-plus pound truck.

The 2001 QX4 still weighs more than two tons, but the new, higher-torque DOHC 24-valve V6 propels it to 60 mph in about 9.0 seconds. That's not hot-rod sport-ute territory, but the time makes the QX4 pretty fast for a big, equipment-loaded, upscale truck. Weights range from 4,074 to 4,352 pounds.

The stronger, new aluminum block V6 offers good throttle response during a variety of driving conditions because of continuous valve timing control, variable intake system, new lightweight piston design and new electronic throttle control system.

New platinum-tipped spark plugs are said to be good for 100,000 miles, but I know too many top mechanics who recommend that such high-mileage plugs be replaced long before 100,000 miles to maintain the best performance and fuel economy.

Marginal Fuel Economy
Did we mention fuel economy? It's not very good with the new QX4: an estimated 15 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway. But that's about right for a heavy, luxury sport utility.

The new engine works with a 4-speed automatic transmission strengthened to handle the extra power and torque. It upshifts at 72 mph instead of holding passing gear until 75 mph during typical 65-75 mph passing maneuvers, but generally works efficiently.

The power steering may seem a bit heavy for former U.S. luxury sedan owners, but is plenty quick Handling is good, and so is braking—despite a rather soft brake pedal. Generally, the QX4 feels and rides like a big, heavy domestic luxury car—except when sharp bumps or rotten roads jolt occupants and betray the fact this is, after all, a truck

The QX4 is essentially a dolled-up Nissan Pathfinder, but has significantly different styling and enough extra features to make it a viable alternative—not to mention its luxury nameplate and the extra attention Infiniti buyers are supposed to receive.

Innovative 4-Wheel Drive
The innovative 4-wheel-drive system adds weight and thus lowers fuel economy a little. But it can be used on dry roads—and set in rear-drive, all-wheel-drive or "automatic" mode, which allows 4-wheel drive to be activated when needed with no driver involvement.

Those who order the 4-wheel drive can get a $900 Sport Package with a desirable limited-slip differential, besides items found in the Heated Seats Package. However, you must order the Premium Package to get the Sport Package.

Roomy
Four tall adults easily fit in the quiet interior, although legroom can get tight behind a tall driver who shoves his seat back a lot. Occupants sit high for a commanding view of surroundings.

Front seats are especially supportive. Of course, there's leather trim—even for the gearshift knob and parking brake lever—and the sporty analog dashboard clock is a nice touch of class. There's a good amount of "wood-tone" trim for those who may miss the luxury sedans they traded in for the QX4.

The manual hood prop, which fits in a cheap plastic retainer, is surprising to find instead of hydraulic struts. On the other hand, there are no fewer than six windshield washer jets.

Frustrating Power Windows
Dashboard controls are commendably large, but interior door handles are too small—at a time when automakers are making such handles larger and easier to grasp. It's also hard to make a window stop when it's going down or up with the new one-touch automatic up/down feature for the standard power window system. Also, the rear windows don't roll all the way down.

The cargo area is long and rather shallow, but has a low, wide opening. The rear seat easily folds forward—with a simple design others should copy—to significantly enlarge this area.

Changes to the QX4 make it far more desirable, but it's sure taken long enough for Infiniti to give it a decent engine.

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BB05 - 8/21/2014 1:33:21 PM