2002 Infiniti Q45 Four Seasons Test

Tim Andrew

Interestingly, the Q45 wasn't nearly as annoying outside Michigan, according to Gillies (who drove one in California), contributor Ronald Ahrens (who took ours to Omaha, where no one understood it, either), and online editor Greg Anderson, known for his frequent, casual, high-mileage interstate jaunts. All noticed a marked improvement in ride quality, cornering, steering, and damping. In every state, though, throttle tip-in remained a nuisance. We noticed it in the pilot cars and mentioned it to engineers, who said they would fix it. They didn't. "I nearly gave myself and my passenger whiplash trying to get back up to speed coming out of a slow corner," wrote Misaros. Takeoff, concurs senior editor Joe Lorio, "is syrupy unless you really boot it." We found it overly noticeable in stop-and-go traffic, as irate motorists dove into the hole in front of us that opened every time we hit the gas and nothing happened.

As beautiful as the interior is, the controls of various features seem jumbled across the console. Reach for the radio knob, and you turn the temp up or down. Nothing is intuitive; everything you operate takes your eyes from the road, which is why we labored so hard to speak clearly so that the voice-recognition system could operate some things for us. And it did work. The nav system amused us with its bird's-eye view of our world, then frustrated us with its fiddly selector buttons and bog-slow operation. Give us Honda's navigation system, or give us a map.

Steering Wheel View

Delving deeply into the computer revealed a wealth of good stuff, including exact tire pressures at all four corners (which hipped us early on to an impending flat) and precise fuel and range information, crucial to someone like this writer, who likes to see just how close to empty she can push those fill-ups. Back-seat passengers universally praised their sumptuous quarters, which featured sunshades, heated and power-adjustable seats, and their own climate and audio controls.

Our annoyances rarely led to a service call, we must say, aside from a lingering problem with gasoline spewing from the tank filler. Infiniti issued a service bulletin on this apparently common ailment, and a new fuel tank with modified filler neck was installed under warranty. The problem was not solved.

We decided to act like Germans and install real snow tires for the winter, a set of Pirelli Winter 240 SnowSports, which were worth every penny of the $1000 we paid for them; notes in the logbook likened the Q's winter performance to that of a snowplow. (Here in Michigan, we know from snowplows.)

By the 30,000-mile service, our last with the car, the driver's seat had a silly millimeter of annoying freeplay, the radio was working intermittently, the magnetic latches for the armrest-compartment lid were loose, the power steering fluid had deteriorated, the cabin air filters were dirty, and the Q had developed a shimmy at highway speeds, which turned out to be caused by warped brake rotors. Undoubtedly our fault. The bill was not pretty.

The upshot? The Q is not a bad car, but "disappointing" cropped up again and again. Design editor Robert Cumberford summed it up well: "Everything about this car is almost good but not quite. It's certainly not a bad car, but it doesn't measure up in the category."

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