Saw this in my local paper today...
Pathfinder still blazing its own trail
Nissan stays true to SUV roots with solidly built update of flagship truck.
By Pete Szilagyi
SPECIAL TO THE AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Nissan's familiar Pathfinder might be one for the history books. Along with the Toyota 4Runner, Chevrolet's S-10 Blazer and the Jeep Cherokee, the Pathfinder is one of four midsize sport-utility vehicles that sparked the SUV craze in the mid-1980s.
Others came before — Chevy's big Blazer and the Ford Bronco among them — but these four were properly scaled and priced for the mass market. They showed America just how much fun a truck could be.
The Pathfinder and 4Runner are the only survivors, and they are still true to the originals, with optional equipment for serious off-roading, room for at least five occupants, truck frames and reputations as durable, long-lasting vehicles.
My test drive this past week was a Pathfinder 4x4 in uptown LE trim with the 5.6-liter V-8 engine option that Nissan added for 2008. This current Pathfinder also has new interior design and minor changes to the exterior styling.
SUV purists don't have to worry. The Pathfinder has not been dumbed down — it's pumped up like never before. Compared with the 4Runner, its closest competitor, the Pathfinder feels especially stout and somewhat stiff and trucky, though not uncomfortable to drive and in no way crude or unnecessarily noisy.
Loaded with expensive extras, such as a rear-seat DVD player, sunroof, leather seats, 18-inch wheels and Bose stereo, my metallic blue test model was priced at $39,860, probably at least $8,000 more in Pathfinder equipment than most people actually buy.
The torquey, responsive 310-horsepower V-8 engine (a $1,700 option) was marvelous to drive and appealing, I'm sure, to those towing trailers. But the V-8's gas mileage was disappointing. EPA mileage ratings are 12 and 18; my own mileage was calculated at 16.8 in mostly highway driving.
The Pathfinder's standard 4-liter V-6 is already a standout among SUV engines: 266 horsepower, 288 pound-feet of torque rated at 15 and 21 mpg for four-wheel-drive models. Rear-wheel drive V-6 Pathfinder mileage is slightly better. Nissan recommends premium fuel for both engines but allows the use of regular. Both engines use a 5-speed automatic with timely, logical shifts.
Competency is evident in the sharp and not overly soft steering, the large disc brakes and made-for-work suspension. I drove the Pathfinder briskly down many miles of poorly maintained ranch and county roads and was impressed by the ride and the matter-of-fact way the shocks handled sudden jolts.
Front-seat accommodations are hard to criticize. Attractive buckets are more comfortable than average truck seats, at least for drivers who are not overly broad. The fairly simple controls, effective readout screen for the Bose stereo (including XM Satellite Radio) and climate control were intuitive to learn. The speedometer, which goes up to 140 (please!), is poorly lettered and too small.
Second-row passengers might need additional legroom if they are tall, and seat cushions are too close to the floor. The wayback seat, like in nearly all midsize SUVs, is for young children only.
Pathfinder features include the nicely counterweighted lift gate, hard plastic in cargo area instead of the vulnerable carpeting of most SUVs, three prominent 12-volt outlets up front and stubby, easy to grab signal stalks.
According to Pete ...
Target audience: SUV purists – no crossovers, no thinly disguised hatchbacks or wagons, just the real deal.
Highs: Impressive drivetrains, ergonomics, presence, rugged capability, overall design and engineering.
Lows: Speedometer, stiff ride, premium fuel recommendation, poor gas mileage and emissions from optional V-8.
Bottom line: Refreshingly un-dumbed down for a contemporary SUV.
EPA rating for greenhouse gas emissions (10 is best): 2
In his 25 years of writing a column for the Austin American-Statesman, Pete Szilagyi has driven more than 1,200 new cars and trucks. You may reach him at [email protected].
Seems pretty typical with the poor thoughts on the gas mileage. Interestingly, he compared the gas mileage to 3 other SUV's in "its class". The V-8 Pathfinder was 2nd among the four on highway mpg, BUT lowest on city mpg...
2008 Pathfinder 5.6L V-8 310hp EPA mpg 12/18
2008 4Runner 4.7L V-8 260hp EPA mpg 14/17
2008 Hummer H3 5.3L V-8 300hp EPA 13/16
2008 Grand Cherokee LTD 4.7L V-8 305hp 14/19
I personally like how the V-6 Pathfinder has more HP than the V-8 4Runner.
Here is the link to the web article...
http://www.statesman.com/life/content/l ... inder.html