July 14, 2005
Infiniti Q45, 1997-2001
By Chris Chase
Photo: Nissan/Infiniti. Click image to enlarge
Here's a question: how do
you tick off a whole bunch of people who just bought the final
examples of the first generation Infiniti Q45 luxury sedan in
1996? Easy - introduce a totally redesigned Q45 in 1997 and
price it $7,000 cheaper.
That's no hypothetical
question, either; it's exactly what Infiniti did when it
launched the second generation of its flagship sedan, a car that
had a much different character than the one it replaced. To wit:
it was smaller (albeit only slightly), had a softer ride and
handling and a smaller, less powerful engine than the original
What were they thinking?
One probable answer is that Infiniti wanted to try to steal some
sales from Lexus' LS400, the king of the cushy luxo-sedans,
rather than try to compete with the sportier end of the market,
dominated by BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Whatever the reason,
the Q45 remains an under-appreciated player in the super-sedan
class. This week, we'll take a look at the highlights of this
In 1997 and 1998, this
Infiniti "Q" ship was available in two trims: a "base" model and
a more expensive Touring model, known as the Q45t. In 1999, the
base model was dropped.
flagship model, every Q45 was loaded with just about every
conceivable luxury and safety feature that could be crammed into
a car, and all this for thousands of dollars less than a Lexus
That high value
quotient remains intact today. Check out these used values: a
1997 model is worth between $7,000 and $9,800 per the Canadian
Red Book, a mere fraction of the base car's $65,000 M.S.R.P. A
2001 Q45t is worth $26,050, just 37 per cent of its $70,000
price when new. In case you were wondering, yes, that is a good
deal - a new Honda Accord with a V6 is worth $29,500.
Choose a used Q45 for
the price, but if safety is a priority, you may want to continue
shopping. While the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety
Institute didn't test the Q45, the Insurance Institute for
Highway Safety (IIHS) did conduct a partial test of the car, and
the results weren't stellar. The IIHS gave the Q45 a "marginal"
rating in frontal crash tests, citing a potential for head and
left leg injury for the driver. No side impact tests were
From a reliability
standpoint, however, the Q45 seems to be a good bet. Due to the
Q45's relatively low sales volume, Consumer Reports only had
enough data to rate 1997 and 1999 models but based on that
alone, there are far worse ways to spend that $26,000 you have
laying around. The Q45 receives the magazine's coveted
"recommended" rating, which is no small feat for a car loaded
with electronic gizmos, which can often be more troublesome in
the long-run than the more basic mechanical components of a car.
Indeed, trouble spots are few here, with the only major issue
stemming from the braking system in 1997 models. The Q45 gets
above average ratings for the durability of its electrical
system and power equipment, a rarity in any car approaching ten
years of age.
Fuel economy is what
you'd expect for a large sedan powered by an eight-cylinder
engine: expect a Q45 to burn fuel at a rate of about 9.3 L/100
km on the highway, and around 13.5 L/100 km in the city.
Truthfully, if you
want a flashy car that people will look at when you drive by,
feel free to spend the money on a BMW 7-series or a
Mercedes-Benz S-Class. If you want a car that will coddle and
isolate you and your passengers from the cruel outside world,
pick up a Lexus LS400. But if you want an attractively-priced
V8-powered import sedan that won't attract the attention of
every around you, then a second-generation Infiniti Q45 is the
Q-ship for you.
Red Book Pricing (avg.
retail) July 2005: