By Jeremy Cato
Infiniti, the luxury arm of Nissan Motor Corporating is phasing out the QX4 sport-utility vehicle (SUV) after a fairly successful run dating back to 1997.
The replacement for the QX4 is the Infiniti FX35/45. I mention this because many owners of late-model QX4s can be expected to turn in their older SUVs in favour of the aggressive styling and even more racy performance of the FX35/45 ute.
For those of you who might be thinking about a used QX4, I’d suggest that a post-2001 model offers excellent quality, plenty of luxury features and loads of horsepower. Pre-2001 QX4s are well-built and reasonably luxurious, but decidedly underpowered.
You see, for years the Infiniti QX4 had the best all-wheel-drive system in the luxury sport-ute class, but at just 170 horsepower it was left in the dust of most rivals. Anemic? Until the 2001 version came along it was spelled QX4.
Then along came an engine upgrade that put the QX4 at the head of its class. What was 170 horsepower became 240 horsepower. What was a heavy, cast-iron block engine became a lightweight aluminum block. What was an engine with two valves per cylinder operated by a single overhead camshaft became a powerplant with four valves per cylinder operated by dual overhead camshafts.
In short, what was the award-winning Nissan Maxima/Infiniti I30 engine became the QX4 engine – with a few special tweaks. Let’s also not overlook the smooth shifting of the improved five-speed automatic transmission, either.
Just so you know, the QX4 for 2001 was also massaged in other ways. Aside from the new engine, the interior was given a luxurious revamp, and the body outside was given a brawnier look. Infiniti gave the Q a new rear fascia, heavy body cladding, flared wheel arches over 17-inch alloy wheels and Xenon headlights and integrated fog lights to light up the night-time highway.
Particularly noteworthy inside was the introduction of a near-3D electroluminescent instrument. Infiniti also added standard heated seats front and rear, a dressy analog clock in the centre of the dashboard and a cabin awash in chrome accents and bird’s eye maple. The leather/woodtone steering wheel of the last few years is a stand-out and for safety Infiniti added whiplash-preventing active head restraints, not to mention front and side airbags for the front seats.
Any used QX4 you come across will be loaded. Standard gear runs from leather seating to power front seats to a HomeLink Universal Transeiver for remote activation of garage doors, gates, lights and security system. Of course the impressive all-wheel-drive system instantly moves torque to the wheel or wheels with the best grip.
In highway driving, the 2001-2003 QX4 is quiet for a somewhat boxy truck and the seats are very comfy. The slightly elevated rear bench makes for better visibility of those riding in back and the rear 60-40 split seat is useful for handling a variety of cargo. The cabin itself looks completely up-town.
A slightly used QX4 is a completely user-friendly luxury sport-ute. The quality numbers say this truck is as good as it gets in this type of vehicle.
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.
For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.