San Francisco: The
Nissan Pathfinder looks like a truck, and guess what? It is one. Unlike
crossover vehicles that use a car-like frame to improve comfort on
pavement, the Pathfinder has a truck-like ladder frame designed for
off-road performance. It's becoming rare to find a truck that's truly a
The hottest new SUVs
all look like big, brash, brawny pickups that happened to grow a
passenger compartment, but underneath their bulky sheetmetal you'll find
they're actually built like a puny family car. These crossover vehicles
are great if their most adventurous excursion is to the Home Depot
parking lot, but anybody who needs serious off-road capability is out of
luck. Unless they look at the Nissan Pathfinder.
While it has the same
trendy look as so many other SUVs, it's actually - get this - built on a
truck frame that comes from the tough Nissan Titan. What a novel idea!
That means it's designed to take a beating off the pavement, using a
true ladder-style frame to give it the stiffness and strength it needs
to survive off-road driving. It's a proven, time-tested, old-school
design that works wonderfully for navigating rough terrain, but it's
disappearing so fast that it ought to be on the automotive equivalent of
the endangered-species list.
More and more car
manufacturers are moving away from the truck-style frame because it has
several inherent drawbacks when you're driving on pavement. For one,
it's heavier than unibody construction, so you get lower gas mileage and
less precise handling than with a car-like SUV.
For another, it allows
the cabin to wiggle and shake much more than in a typical car, and that
translates into more noise and a sloppier feel as you drive down the
road. It's clearly designed for traveling over rough terrain and hauling
heavy loads - the kind of jobs trucks are meant to do - rather than
floating serenely around town like a crossover SUV.
With a tall ride and
relatively stiff, bouncy suspension, you definitely know you're behind
the wheel of a truck, but it's not so awful that you can't enjoy
yourself on the highway. Lots of sound insulation keeps wind and road
noise out of the cabin for the most part, and a smooth V6 engine - an
enlarged, modified version of the one in Nissan's 350Z sports car -
pulls you along with ease.
Inside, you'll find a
nice cabin with three rows of seating, two of which are comfortable. The
third-row seat is best for children on long trips or adults on short
ones. Depending on how much you're willing to spend, the Pathfinder can
range from an economy cruiser to near Land Rover levels of luxury.
Pricing starts at
$24,650 for the Pathfinder XE, which comes with fabric seats, air
conditioning, cruise control, power everything and keyless entry. The SE
($25,850) adds a power driver's seat, running boards, roof rack a few
other small things.
will like the Pathfinder SE Off-Road ($28,450), which adds off-road
tires, Rancho brand off-road shocks, and skid plates. High-end luxury
comes in the Pathfinder LE ($32,550), which includes leather seats, wood
trim, a sunroof, Bose stereo with CD changer, and 17-inch wheels.
Options include a DVD
navigation system ($2,000), an air bag package ($700), and a rear-seat
DVD player with wireless headphones ($1,600). Four-wheel drive is also
available on all models for around $2,000.
No matter which version
of the Pathfinder you get, it'll be a truck that doesn't just look like
one. And that's something special nowadays.
What was tested? 2006
Nissan Pathfinder LE 4X4 ($34,750). Options: DVD navigation package
($2,000). Price as tested (including $560 destination charge): $37,310.
Why buy it? It's
designed for real off-road performance. It has a great engine and three
rows of seats. By
Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Nissan Home Page
content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
the Microsoft Word version here:
Column Name: Pathfinder takes old-school approach
Topic: The 2006 Nissan Pathfinder
Word Count: 689
Photo Caption: The 2006 Nissan Pathfinder
Photo Credits: Nissan Internet Media
Series #: 2006 - 28
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