The bad news: We have to say “so long” to Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s spectacular 3L “VQ” DOHC V-6, retiring from Best Engines competition after seven consecutive wins only because, (paradoxically to us,) Nissan is discontinuing in most world markets the 3L variant of the ground-breaking modular VQ engine family.
The good news: the larger 3.5L VQ we now get to replace the 3L simply is more of a good thing. Chocolate fudge smothering chocolate ice cream, if you will.
The outgoing 3L VQ checked out producing a maximum of 227 hp. The new 3.5L V-6, as tested in the 2002 Altima, makes 240 hp. In the Maxima, the engine's tuned for 260 horses, and next year we'll see it develop even more juice when it shows up for duty in the reincarnated Nissan 350Z sports coupe.
Sharp readers will know that we first tested the 3.5L VQ V-6 last year in its inaugural application, the Pathfinder SUV. To save time, we'll summate by saying that the aging Pathfinder was not the ideal showcase for the engine.
That's changed, of course, proving our assertion that a Best Engines award often comes down to an auto maker's acuteness in matching the right engine with the right vehicle (and, sometimes, the right transmission, too). In the new Altima chassis, the 3.5L VQ is downright invigorating: there's momentous thrust in every gear, right through to the redline — thanks, Nissan, for the available 5-speed manual, by the way — and this engine feels stronger that its 240-hp rating. For the new engine, though, it's at least partially explained by the healthy 246 lb.-ft. (334 Nm) that comes from the extra half-liter.
The 3.5L VQ V-6 is a rare treat: delightfully flexible, but backed up by the muscle of bona fide torque. And it's not all attributable simply to extra displacement. The 3.5L VQ V-6 offers some serious upgrades: an excellent infinitely variable valve timing system, a first to the VQ family and, Nissan's engineers claim, the world's first variable valve timing to use electromagnetic control of camshaft phasing.
Finally, we're impressed and relieved that the VQ family's competitor-crushing NVH and refinement haven't been compromised. A new “silent” camshaft chain drive and strategic block stiffening pitch in to ensure levels of refinement that continue to be the envy of engine designers worldwide. After building the world's best V-6 engine for the last seven years, Nissan engineers haven't relaxed — their new 3.5L VQ V-6 again rewrites the definition for “world-class.”
Just got my 02 PF se last week ($200 below invoice & 0.9% for 36 months)! I was very pleased with the ride. This is my first SUV with a manual 4 wheel drives transfer case, my question is what's the fastest speed that I can go in 4H? the manual said the max speed is 50mph, (and you can shift between 2H & 4H on the fly.) Has anyone ever go faster than 50mph in 4H? The reason I asked is that I wanted to have 4 wheels traction in the rain, it seem like 50mph is a bit slow on a 65mph road. My brother have a 02 Jeep Grand Cherokee, it had a fulltime 4H and it can cruise 75mph with no problem.
I'm currently looking for a 1999.5 SE 4x4. Dealers seem to be in the $17,000 - $18,000 range. I'm looking for some info from those of you that have leased or traded in your 1999.5's. What was the residual price from your lease or how much have you been offered for trade-in? Thanks for your help...
Do not use 4H while driving on pavement in the rain.
Wet pavement is not slippery enough to prevent drivetrain binding while the transfer case is locked. 4H should only be used off pavement or in snow, and it's unlikely you'll be driving much faster than 50mph on dirt, so that's the main reason why Nissan says "50 mph" even though mechanically it will operate above that.
2WD traction in the rain is sufficient, provided you don't try to drive like a Formula1 racer.
Only full-time 4wheel drive systems (like the one on the LE model) are designed to function well in all weather and terrain conditions (except for extreme weather, like floods, hurricanes, mudslides, etc. of course).
I assume you have surge brakes on the trailer. If so on one or 2 axles? Did you do anything to beef up the rear suspension (air bags etc)? Also did you put in an "additional" transmission cooler and/or switch to synthetics in tranny. I'm sure pulling is no problem...but how about stopping? Please more info!! I am thinking of towing the same as you (3200 lb boat + dual axle trailer with some gas and gear approx 4500 lbs total) but have been very worried about being able to do so. I have an 01 240 hp auto PF LE 4x4 with a class III hitch. I would only have to tow about 10-20 miles on mostly flat highways or major roads. I have been advised by several others not to go above 85% of the 5000 lb rating mostly because of ability to stop, rear end sag and extra load on tranny. It sounds like from your experiences I should be able to do this...right?
Hey, folks...looking for a source for replacing my left rear seat shoulder/lap belt. My dog chewed almost completely through it. I've looked around a bit and found nothing. Any ideas other than getting it directly from my Nissan dealer?