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Underpowered and overpriced. The less expensive Nissan Pathfinder is our choice.
Advanced four-wheel-drive system, Infiniti warranty and dealer treatment.
Weak V6 engine, price premium (compared to Pathfinder) is unjustified.
Infiniti's luxury SUV gets minor improvements to its emissions system but is otherwise a carryover from the 1999 model year. A more powerful QX4 will be available soon as a 2001 model.
In 1997, Infiniti released a luxury sport-utility vehicle based on the then-new Nissan Pathfinder. With little to differentiate the QX4 from the Pathfinder, other than a $10,000 price increase and a fancy-shmancy four-wheel-drive system, many critics unleashed a torrent of criticism at the vehicle. The problem was not that people disliked the mechanics, driveability or appearance of this truck; they just couldn't get around the fact that the QX4 offered little, other than full-time 4WD and an impressive Infiniti warranty, to distinguish itself from the already-capable Pathfinder.
The critics might have cried foul, but the buying public seemed not to notice. The QX4 has been a strong seller for Infiniti, outpacing the optimistic projections that Infiniti had for this sport-ute. In its first year out, the QX4 received an award from J.D. Power and Associates in their initial quality study, ranking the QX4 the best compact sport-utility vehicle. Seems that those who did buy this truck were pretty darned happy with the purchase.
So what is it that people like about the QX4? Well, there is the full-time 4WD system that offers drivers the security of having maximum traction without having to change gear levers or control knobs. Called All-Mode 4WD, the system employs a wet multiplate clutch in the center differential that shifts power between the front and rear wheels depending on road surface conditions. It does this by monitoring power distribution and wheel slippage via electronic sensors in the front and rear differentials, a throttle position sensor, and a transfer unit sensor in the antilock braking system. The unit ensures that the tires have traction by shifting up to 50 percent of the power to the front wheels if the rear wheels start to slip.
Last year, Infiniti added side airbags with head protection, UV cut glass, new halogen headlights with a multiparabola reflector, black rear privacy glass (which replaced the previous bronze), automatic cut-off headlights, an Infiniti Immobilizer System, five new paint colors and the company retained the accessory power for the sunroof and windows. This year, only the emissions system has been improved.
Despite these upgrades, the similarities between the QX4 and the Pathfinder keep us from highly recommending the Infiniti, especially with a more powerful version of both the QX4 and the Pathfinder due to arrive soon. The QX4's price premium offers a better warranty and dealer experience, but for our money we'd stick with the Nissan.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.