Buick, Chevrolet, Infiniti, Lexus, Nissan, Reviews, Sedan
Apr18

QOTD: Your Least Favorite Rear-drive Nineties Ride?

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1996 Chevrolet Impala SS - Image: ChevroletLast week, we accepted suggestions for our readers’ least favorite front-drive cars from the 1990s, but commenter Art Vandelay (an importer/exporter) wanted more. We’re back a week later to repeat the same question, but with a focus on rear-drive rides. Let the aero-infused criticism begin.

Don’t worry, we’re not picking on that Purp Drank Impala SS. The rules this time around will be the same as the last edition of this game, mostly:

  • Only vehicles with model years between 1990 and 1999 are eligible for submission.
  • Vehicles from any manufacturer qualify.
  • Qualifying vehicles were sold as new in North America.

Though there were still many rear-drive sedans in the Nineties, lots of other things were rear drive, too — keep that in mind. I’ll stick with a sedan criticism here, one which may surprise you.

Before you is the second-generation Infiniti Q45. Infiniti’s first flagship debuted for the 1990 model year, aimed directly at HMS Lexus LS400. Contrasting with the Lexus, the Q45’s rather avant garde grille-free design was paired with a minimalist interior. Free of ruched leather and wood trim (which its competitors had), the Q45 was also largely free of buyers.

Though the sedan impressed motoring journalists, Real People shied away from its beefy 4.5-liter V8. Consumers opted in droves for the more conservative, more luxurious, and more prestigious Lexus. While Lexus spent more than a decade developing a car to suit the American luxury market, Nissan chose to bring over a revised version of its President executive sedan, which debuted in the Japanese domestic market that same year. Marketing of the Q45 was also an issue, as Infiniti opted for modern and minimal advertisements that featured trees, but not the car for sale. Time to try again, Infiniti said.

In 1997, a new Q45 arrived in North America. This one was slightly smaller than the original, placing less emphasis on modernism and sports and more on conservative luxury, just like Lexus. Suddenly, there was lots of ruched leather and wood trim, and a fancy clock which looked upon a top-tier interior of Nissan Maxima parts. Based on the less expensive Japanese market Cima, the Q had a lesser engine as well. Though the “45” remained on the back, a more accurate representation would’ve said “41.” Under hood was a 4.1-liter V8 from the VH engine line. It produced 268 horsepower (a respectable number), but the unique sporty proposition was gone. This second Q45 was broadly labeled as a Japanese Buick and forgotten by most everybody. Infiniti tried for sports luxury again in 2002, but it was too late. Infiniti never went all-in with attempts to tackle Lexus for sedan dominance, and it showed. The second generation Q45 was a great example of what happens when an expensive car is developed half-heartedly.

What rear-drive Nineties ride doesn’t do it for you?

[Images: General Motors, Infiniti]

– QOTD: Your Least Favorite Rear-drive Nineties Ride? –

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