Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pathfinder renews urge to take that long road trip

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­I spent a week with an old friend recently.  Technically, it was a 2015 Nissan Pathfinder SL 4X4 sport-utility vehicle, but trust me, we go way back.

Remember when the Pathfinder made its debut back in 1985, available only as a two-door model.  It was definitely more truck-like back then.

Nissan cleverly marketed the vehicle as a regular participant in endurance runs and super-long road treks over plains, mountains and streams.  Back then, just the Pathfinder offered up the promise of seeing new, faraway places on roads yet untraveled.

You got the vibe just backing the vehicle out of the driveway.

Yeah, I’m a sentimental sucker, but it works for me.

Now, four vehicle generations later, my week in the 2015 Pathfinder once again had me itching to be out on the long and winding road.  But this time around, things have changed.

The current Pathfinder – reportedly due for major upgrades over the next year – is a lot more vehicle than what I remember.  And much more luxurious.  In fact, I couldn’t envision taking this beauty off the road and into the mud up in the wilds of Alaska.

Why would I want to mess up the gleaming “Cayenne Red” paint job?

Still, I’m sure this current 4X4 could plow through the mud if asked.  The 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 260 horsepower performed at level well above that advertised number.  The Pathfinder was strong off the line and peppy on prolonged accelerations.  It drove lighter than it looked.

The exterior look is SUV basic, but smooth over the top.  Plentiful safety/security features are standard – including a blind spot-monitoring system­ –  to make you feel secure at the wheel.

Inside, the seven-passenger SUV was a study in contemporary luxury and motorist-pleasing perks.

Leather all around.  Rear-view monitor.  Rear sonar system.  Four 12-volt power jacks.  My ride was dressed up with a $2,030 tech package that included a primo 13-speaker Bose audio system, a top-tier navigation system and an Around View Monitor with four wide-angle cameras to help me avoid unwanted contact.

The extras brought the bottom line on the sticker to $40,875, which is about right.  I can’t imagine trading in this vehicle after three or four years.  No, I’d look at it as a 10-year investment, minimum.  Consider it your ticket to travel the open road for years to come.

Worth noting on the plus side: solid safety ratings.  On the other side of the coin: fuel mileage not terrific at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

The Pathfinder competes against some other solid models in this sector, and in my view, it stacks up quite well when compared with its rivals.

Sure, it can do the daily commute, or the suburban chores.  And if you’re thinking about heading out on the path not yet taken, well, you probably know what to do from there.

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