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Entry price: $31,040

Price as tested: $47,840

This week we’re driving the improved 2018 Nissan Pathfinder, delivered in top line Platinum trim with 4WD mechanicals. Listed as a midsize SUV by the folks at Nissan, this enhanced-for-2018 is as close to a larger size SUV as you can get, especially considering its three rows of standard seating, spacious interior and wheelbase dimensions.

The Nissan nameplate (formerly Datsun) has been around now for some 60 years in the U.S., and is still dedicated to providing a variety of vehicles for consumers of all ages. Today, the modern-era Pathfinders provide outstanding comfort and impressive 4WD abilities for those who enjoy weekends in the wilderness.

Most important is that you don’t need $40,000-plus to get into a Pathfinder. The well-equipped entry S starts at $31,040 and the second-in-line SV retails for $33,730 and features the exact same mechanicals as the upper crust siblings. The SL series starts at $37,750, while a Midnight Edition 4x4 with black style cues goes for $40,835. Platinum models start at $42,570 and if you want 4WD add another $1,700 to the above prices.

Completely restyled last year, new for 2018 are standard features like automatic emergency braking and a novel “rear door alert” that reminds Pathfinder owners to check for anything left in the rear seat from babies to pets to groceries. Your Nissan dealer will explain this new feature when you visit and Nissan plans on adding this safety feature to all models in the future.

Another upgrade for 2018 worth mentioning is the addition of standard intelligent cruise control and Nissan Connect with navigation on SL and above models.  

Actually, this new, more comfortable generation Pathfinder arrived when corporate decided to revamp the chassis about six years ago from truck to car-like. Specifically, Pathfinders used to rely on Nissan’s sturdy truck chassis that made for excellent off-road and towing use but lacked in the creature comfort and smooth ride capability.

As consumer demands changed and SUVs and Crossovers became the norm, Nissan changed Pathfinder’s chassis by integrating a car-like unibody frame that immediately delivered a more comfortable ride. The result is exactly what Nissan hoped for as consumers found that purchasing a “modern day” Pathfinder was more enticing to all age groups. Although tow mass dropped from 7,000 pounds to a still respectable 6,000 pounds, if you need more tow abilities check out the full size 9,000-pound. haul capacity Nissan Armada (that we are scheduled to review in July).  

All Pathfinders come powered by a fine running 3.5-liter V6 that produces a stout 284-horses and 259 lb. ft. of torque. Pathfinders deliver decent fuel mileage at 20 city and 26 highway in two-wheel drive or 19 city and 26 highway with the 4x4. An Xtronic CVT overdrive automatic transmission transfers the power, which is noteworthy as the V6 pulls with authority.

On the 4WD models, Nissan’s intuitive and switchable 4x4 system allows 2WD, Auto and 4WD lock modes. 

Likes: More standard safety features, comfort, quiet interior, multi-tasking.

Dislikes: Rear visibility, tight third row, leans a bit in turns.

— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications.

 

Auto Bits

A pre-road-trip checklist to avoid towing trauma

The onset of warmer weather means taking to the outdoors, be it boating, camping or simply tackling big jobs in the backyard. The result is a heavy increase in traffic on the roads — and often tagging along with the extra vehicles are the trailers, boats and campers that can put motorists at risk.

In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 20,000 people require medical attention every year as a result of crashes involving trailers towed by passenger vehicles.

These recreational outings don’t need to go sideways — nor does whatever you may be towing. Here’s a safety checklist to ensure you are towing the right way:

Get hitched: A starting point to towing is knowing the pulling capacity of your vehicle, as too much weight can cause a load of problems, no matter how much power your engine has.

Light it up: No matter what you’re driving, communicating with other vehicles is paramount to safety — and that means having properly working brake, tail and turn signal lights. 

Locked down and loaded: Once everything is hitched, it’s time to load up the cargo. It’s best to be balanced with weight distribution, but put heavier cargo in the front of the trailer. And of course, do not overload.

— More Content Now