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A capable and luxurious truck. But so is the less expensive Pathfinder.
Powerful V6 engine, Infiniti warranty and service experience, excellent on-road manners, optional on-board entertainment system, available heated rear seats.
Rear seats could use more legroom, some interior parts and pieces aren't refined enough for an Infiniti, navigation system hard to operate.
Available QX4 SUV Models
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For 2002, the QX4 receives a few interior enhancements including a refined audio system, a faster functioning in-dash CD changer and a newly optional wood-trim steering wheel with audio controls. It also gets an available Intelligent Cruise Control system, the same system found on the Q45. Rounding out the updates are optional chrome-plated 17-inch wheels and seven new exterior colors.
In years past, the QX4 hasn't been deemed worthy of the price premium it commanded over its mechanical and structural twin, the Nissan Pathfinder. Infiniti's main selling points for the Q were its exclusive All-Mode four-wheel-drive system and a few other exclusive features. Significant updates last year that added more standard and available content, along with a big boost in power, meant the decidedly car-like QX4 had finally dusted itself off and stepped up to the plate in relation to its direct competition.
The 2002 QX4 features a 3.5-liter 24-valve V6 that produces 240 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque, and is mated to a four-speed automatic that drives the rear or all wheels. Smooth and quiet, the V6 supplies surprisingly spirited around-town acceleration, but mid-range oomph for passing could be better. Handling is superbly rendered for an SUV, with an independent strut front and five-link coil beam rear axle suspension working through pavement-biased tires to create confidence-inspiring levels of road holding. Engine speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering proves quite responsive and stout unibody construction keeps chassis flex under control. Front disc/rear drum ABS brakes work with authority, and provide good pedal feel and modulation. Overall, the QX4 is satisfying to drive, with a sportier demeanor than most other SUVs.
The QX4 is available with either two-wheel or four-wheel drive. The All-Mode 4WD system, when set to "Auto," shifts power between the front and rear wheels depending on road surface conditions. It does this by monitoring power distribution and wheel slippage, ensuring that the tires have traction by shifting up to 50 percent of the power to the front wheels. If you opt for the Sport package, you'll get a rear limited-slip differential, which further increases traction.
This year, the QX4 features a variety of minor updates to an already luxurious interior. An optional navigation system, encumbered with teensy buttons to control functions, offers an exclusive "Birdview" display that we appreciated during a test drive. Also available is an entertainment system, which includes a video player and jacks for gaming systems and a fold-down LCD screen. Safety features that carry over from last year include front head and chest side-impact airbags and an active head restraint system that helps reduce whiplash in rear-end collisions.
A newly optional feature for the 2002 model year is Intelligent Cruise Control, a system shared with the Q45 flagship sedan. The system adjusts the vehicle's speed and distance to traffic in front of the car when the cruise control is operated and reacts to traffic speed changes far faster that a driver can, increasing the safety margin for the QX4 driver and passengers. This system combines laser sensors, throttle and brake actuators, keeping a constant distance between the QX4 and cars ahead.
The QX4 is a solid truck, and we can't find much to criticize. What detracts from its attractiveness is its doppelganger, the Pathfinder. A Pathfinder LE goes for thousands of dollars less. What'll the extra premium for the Infiniti get you? More equipment, of course, as well as intangibles such as a better warranty and mollycoddling customer service reps. And then there's the utter confidence and self-esteem that comes with owning a premium-brand vehicle. But when all is said and done, the notoriously tightfisted Edmunds.com bunch would stick with the Pathfinder LE, with its identical engine, underpinnings, similar option list and as nearly as opulent an interior.
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