2007 Nissan Pathfinder Strikes Right Balance

A couple weeks ago I ran a review of my 1987 Nissan Pathfinder, and somebody at Nissan must have suffered a case of the burning ears, because this week I was asked to review the all-new 2007 Nissan Pathfinder. It's a very different car, and a good car, but in very different ways. It's bigger, more deluxe, and a very different animal altogether.

To compare the two Pathfinders would be inappropriate, and not just because of the twenty-year gap in technology. The things that made the old Pathfinder a brilliant car no longer apply, since most cars are dependable and value-balanced in the way that made it a famous little workhorse.

Let's start with the size of the thing. Today's Pathfinder has a third-row of seating more comfortable than the Volvo XC90, though not as big as the Chrysler Aspen. It's a good balance, since smaller size equals fuel economy. It's also taller, wider and longer than previous incarnations of the model, but there's no problem getting in and out, even with kids. Even still, the standard 4.0 liter V6 delivers efficiency in the 20+ MPG range, which is appropriate even in this rising gas price era.

Every Pathfinder I've driven has been appropriately powerful, and the current 4.0 liter V6 delivers plenty of getup-and-go without being a five-thousand-pound race car, like many mid-sized SUVs. The 6,000-pound hauling capacity is enough to tow even a good sized boat. Not the sort of thing equipped to tear down a house or haul your monster truck to the arena, but if the mood really moved you thusly, I'd say give it a shot.

The comfort is appropriate for the class of cars, and exactly what I expected in the price range. The engine is a bit louder than I expected, but under normal driving conditions you won't notice it. Having reviewed a ton of cars, I'm pretty critical of all the little things. Off-road performance shocks are standard, but it doesn't make the ride the least bit uncomfortable. Also standard are skid-plates for the oil pan, transfer case and fuel tank, so if you do go off-road, you can expect your ride to survive it.

The safety features are too many to list, but the real value in the care comes from its life expectancy. I've never read or experienced anything to convince me the new Nissans won't endure the same beating as the old ones, and my 1987 Pathfinder has 244,000 miles on it and runs like a charm despite being almost old enough to drink. Even at $33,000, your twenty-years of lifespan would only cost you $137 a month, and if your experience is anything like mine, you'll still have life left in the rig to boot, so the price will keep dropping month-by-month. I've only owned one Pathfinder in my life, but my goodness the thing has served me well.

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