Infiniti Q45 (1999)

Loved it!

Infiniti Q45The Infiniti Q45 is one hell of a nice car. It's a great car to drive, with a sweet engine and an optional suspension that's just a little stiffer than the older Q45s. Here is a car you could drive every day, all day long...and still have a smile on your face.

Standard in the Q45 is a powerful 4.1-liter V8 engine that's reminiscent of the best of the old American V8s. The power is smooth, quiet and instantly available at any speed. It always feels like theres more power than you need, but not in an inappropriate or irresponsible way. Its just ready to go when you are.

Driving Experience

The Q45 has an excellent suspension and handling package. It's not very sporty per se, but it manages to soak up everything in a firm but comfortable way. We recently had the opportunity to drive the Lincoln Town Car, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition. These vehicles are similarly priced--in the low to mid-40s. And when we drove the Town Car with the "touring" suspension package, we thought it wasnt too bad. Then we drove the Q45 and realized just how poorly the Town Car handled.

The Q45 is no sports car, but it has achieved an excellent balance between comfort and handling. While every bit as comfortable as the Town Car (OK, its not a sofa on wheels, but it certainly *is* comfortable), its handling runs circles around the big Lincoln. The steering is tight, the suspension is firm by comparison, and overall the car simply feels very well put together.

Interior

It's quiet and comfortable inside the Q45. There's lots of room in theback seat and plenty of trunk space in the way-back--its not cavernous, but no one will complain. Its basically what youd expect in a moderately large car.

Ergonomics

Ergonomically, the Q45 is superb, as one might expect from a high-end Japanese vehicle. Everything is very nicely laid out and exactly where you might want it. There's an easy-to-use temperature control system and a wonderful Bose stereo system. Watch out, however, for the garish white-and-gold clock right in the middle of the dash. White with gold? Whats this? The Q45 "South Florida" edition?

Missing from the Q45 are "automatic up" windows which are becoming standard (and useful) equipment in a lot of cars. Driving out of a parking garage, we realized just how useful this feature can be. Try to raise the window with one hand, put your wallet back and grab the wheel--all while putting on your seat belt. If you're going to pay $45,000 for a car, you expect to be able simply to touch a button and have the window go up.

Infiniti Q45The Q45's xenon headlights, in addition to being very bright, also feature something very interesting: a headlight aiming switch which raises and lowers the angle of the headlight beam through four different settings. Let's say you've got the car loaded with two very large mothers-in-law in the back seat. The front of the car will be tilted upwards...and your headlights could be pointed right at someone's rearview mirror. Flip the switch, and the headlight beams adjust downward and once again become parallel to the roadway. Very good idea--and very considerate!

The Q45 offers a steering-wheel-based cellular phone. It's not a hands-free phone per se, but it's pretty close. Statistically, however, this kind of cellular phone is barely safer than a traditional cell phone. The bottom line is this: if you decide to talk on the phone while you drive, youre four times more likely to be in an accident--about the same accident rate as drivers who are legally intoxicated. And, in our humble opinion, youd also be a moron. We still oppose any kind of cellular phone use while a car is in motion. If you're so important that you have to talk while you drive, get a chauffeur.

Styling

The Q45's single huge problem is its image...or total lack thereof. Infiniti was completely unimaginative with the styling of this car. The longer we had this car, the more convinced we were that it had nothing going for it, stylistically speaking. Infiniti went for that guaranteed-not-to-offend, middle-of-the-road look, and that's exactly what they ended up with: a car that practically spells out B-O-R-I-N-G. It has the look of a bloated Nissan Altima. This is not a car that's going to appeal to someone in his 30s or 40s. Due to its bland styling, we'd expect the Q45 to appeal to the over-50 crowd.

Maintenance

The engine and transmission in the Q45 are among the best made and should prove to be extremely reliable. Its right up there with the Lexuses and Mercedes of the world. Expect to pay through the nose for service and repairs, however. This is not a car wed recommend taking to Joes Gas Station for repairs.

Overall comments

It would be difficult to consider any car in this price range (cars.coms target price for the Q45 is $44,670) a bargain. But, we would consider the Q45 to be very fairly priced. You get a lot of car for that money. And, since its not exactly selling like hot cakes, there may be more room to haggle. But at this level you're also in the price range of the Acura RL, the Lexus LS400, the Mercedes E430 and the BMW 540i. Pretty heady competition.

The Q45 is a very nice car. Its a car you could be very, very happy driving. The problem is that it just doesnt stick out for any particular reason. Its "outsported" by the BMW, "outclassed" by the Mercedes and "outreputationed" by the Lexus. That doesnt mean its not a nice car; it is. It just means that until Infiniti finds a way to distinguish its styling or performance, its going to be a low-volume car for them. Too bad, because its a hell of a car.

View cars.com model report on this vehicle.


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