QOTD: Your Least Favorite Rear-drive Nineties Ride?

qotd your least favorite rear drive nineties ride

Last 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]

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  • DownUnder2014 DownUnder2014 on May 15, 2019

    In Australia... 1. The 1990-92 Ford Falcon (EA II/EB I). The 3.9's in these sucked, far worse than the 4.1 it replaced and the 4.0 that would replace it... 2. 1989-92 FSM Niki. It was a 1972-80 Fiat 126 built in Poland... 3. 1996-2006 Ssangyong Korando. I dislike the front end on these...just looks weird to me. Dishonourable mentions: 1. Any 1994-2000 MB (especially the 1G Sprinter). Why do 1G Sprinters rust so badly? 2. Volvo 940/960 (particularly the sedan). It didn't look as good as the 2s or 7s. not to mention, the belts on the I6 and also the PRV was still initially available. The door panels don't seem to age well...many I've seen aren't in great condition...

  • MorrisGray MorrisGray on Oct 10, 2019

    What years did Ford have that awful Mustang II?

  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.
  • Dlc65688410 Please stop, we can't take anymore of this. Think about doing something on the Spanish Pegaso.
  • MaintenanceCosts A few bits of context largely missing from this article:(1) For complicated historical reasons, the feds already end up paying much of the cost of buying new transit buses of all types. It is easier legally and politically to put capital funds than operating funds into the federal budget, so the model that has developed in most US agencies is that operational costs are raised from a combination of local taxes and fares while the feds pick up much of the agencies' capital needs. So this is not really new spending but a new direction for spending that's been going on for a long time.(2) Current electric buses are range-challenged. Depending on type of service they can realistically do 100-150 miles on a charge. That's just fine for commuter service where the buses typically do one or two trips in the morning, park through the midday, and do one or two trips in the evening. It doesn't work well for all-day service. Instead of having one bus that can stay out from early in the morning until late at night (with a driver change or two) you need to bring the bus back to the garage once or twice during the day. That means you need quite a few more buses and also increases operating costs. Many agencies are saying for political reasons that they are going to go electric in this replacement cycle but the more realistic outcome is that half the buses can go electric while the other half need one more replacement cycle for battery density to improve. Once the buses can go 300 miles in all weather they will be fine for the vast majority of service.(3) With all that said, the transition to electric will be very good. Moving from straight diesel to hybrid already cut down substantially on emissions, but even reduced diesel emissions cause real public health damage in city settings. Transitioning both these buses and much of the urban truck fleet to electric will have measurable and meaningful impacts on public health.