Redesigned as an early 2001 model with a stronger engine, the upscale sport utility vehicle from Nissans luxury division sees only a few minor enhancements for 2002. These changes include newly optional intelligent cruise control and five new exterior colors. Nissans BirdView navigation system remains optional, which gives a panoramic view of the road ahead or a conventional video map. The QX4 is essentially a dressed-up Nissan Pathfinder, and it competes against such rivals as the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Lexus RX 300 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class.
The most notable design element of the QX4 is its unique, assertive front end, led by a twin-slot upper grille with a massive air intake below. Square headlights and fog lights help complete the bold picture. Otherwise, the QX4 is conventional in SUV appearance.
Equipped with standard running boards and xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights, the QX4 also features fog lights integrated into the front fascia. Measuring 184 inches long overall a few inches longer than the RX 300 and M-Class Infinitis SUV sits high off the ground and requires a steep climb into the passenger compartment. Narrow rear doors can make it difficult for backseat passengers to get in and out. The QX4 rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, measures 72.4 inches wide and stands 70.7 inches tall to the top of its roof rack.
Luxury amenities in the QX4 include leather upholstery, wood interior trim, automatic climate control, heated mirrors and a Bose sound system with a six-CD player. Electrofluorscent gauges face the driver, and power front windows have one-touch automatic up/down operation. Heated front and rear seats and a moonroof are among the few options.
Folding down the split rear seat creates 85 cubic feet of cargo space, and a covered bin below the cargo floor adds a little more storage area.
Under the Hood
Like the engine in Nissans Pathfinder, the 240-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 works with a four-speed-automatic transmission and either rear-drive or four-wheel drive. A console switch operates the 4WD system, which allows three selections: 2WD, automatically engaging 4WD or permanent 4WD with power split evenly between the front and rear wheels. Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags are standard.
Performance from the 240-hp engine is satisfying and energetic, although its not quite record-setting. Even more noticeable is the QX4s ride quality. Except for an occasional thud at the rear end, when hitting an especially nasty bump, the ride is easy and enjoyable on the highway and just about as pleasing on rougher two-lane roads.
Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights produce an outstanding view of the road ahead. Marred only by difficult backseat entry due to the narrow doors and limited headroom in the rear, the QX4 is an appealing road machine.