I'm a car guy. Cool cars, cool trucks. You can read my review of my weekend car, my 92 Porsche elsewhere on epinions. Even though we've just had our first child and my wife can't fit the baby, the carriage and her hard luggage into her soon to be returned Mercedes C230, I knew she really wanted a car, not a truck. And I was the one who really needed a truck. I drag the grills and the water softener salt home from Home Depot. I really needed the four wheel drive, I'm the one coming home from Baltimore in a driving rain storm or down from Boston or driving the thirteen miles from the train with four inches of snow on the ground.
So here was the deal. We were going to lease my wife a bigger four door for the 10-12,000 miles a year she drives (my choice a Nissan Maxima or BMW 530i, hers an MB E320 - guess what's coming to the driveway, in desert sand and tan leather?) and buy me a truck which could hold up for years under the 20,000 to 25,000 miles a year I drive for work.
The truck parameters were:
A real truck that could handle tough snow (we got one 14 inch storm last year and many 4-8 inchers) and pull a boat (you gotta have dreams)
A nice ride and handling, remember I'm gonna do 20,000 miles a year for business.
Decent gas mileage (see above)
Sport sedan class acceleration, or as close as possible
Navigation system (hey, I've been to Newark Delaware, Erie and York PA and Baltimore and BWI in the last two weeks)
Enough room for me, the wife, the boy and the dog while being small enough for my large car phobic wife to drive (she had a Miata and thinks the C230 is huge - she's already run it into atleast three cars)
So we went shopping. Nothing better than having a reason to drop in on all the car dealerships. Here's what we found:
The BMW is very cool, inside and out. But if you're gonna get it, you need the big motor and it's not much bigger than the BMW 5 series inside. So it's $60,000 for a sport truck that can't bring home a barbecue.
The Mercedes is at least $45,000 and, well, ugly.
The Tahoe/Yukon are nice, but they come with GM build quality, no navigation system and are a bit too big for my highway driving and the wife (5,000 pounds or more)
The Land Rover Discovery is very nice, but again, has questionable quality and, well, Land Rover has changed owners three times in like the last 5 years (now owned by Ford)
The Fords were out of the question - they combine American quality with just okay pushrod motors and a history of bad tires. The Explorer is a station wagon with 4WD, which doesn't even get close to the real truck requirement.
The Toyota 4Runner is almost perfect. A bit thin, and a bit under powered (180 hp) but under consideration until...
Nissan puts the 240hp 3.5 litre motor in the Pathfinder.
The Pathfinder LE optioned out is the Infiniti QX4 without the wood steering wheel and the 17 inch tires. I priced an LE, which looks much better than the other models because the bumpers and flairs are body color and I believe this option also adds the very nice 16 inch wheels and tires. We added leather (which I think got the Bose radio and 6 disk changer), limited slip rear axle (you see, normal 4 wheel drive with open axles is really 2 wheel drive, one front and one back - you get limited slip and it's almost twice as good, it means two wheels in back pull at the same time which is really 3 wheel drive) and the Navigation system, took advantage of Nissan programs, and after my wife added the video system, I got the truck for $34k with 3.9% financing for 60 months (the sticker was almost $39k).
The navigation system allows me to find my way around traffic jams and to find my way to remote offices and businesses without losing time. You can save FIFTY addresses (Home, Work, in-laws, restaurants). Anyplace you are you push Destination and Home, and you're guided BY VOICE if you like, turn by turn, back to your loved ones. I'm waiting for my digital navigator (a womans voice) to tell me to slow down, I drive too fast...
The engine is a larger version of the Maxima engine, which is rated as one of the top ten V6's or engines or something. I have two friends who sold Maxmia's after 150,000 almost trouble free miles simply because it was time for a change. I wanted that kind of quality and reliability.
The truck is fabulous. Enough room for me, the wife, the boy, the dog, both carriages, all or our luggage, everyone's gifts, the bottles, baby toys and my one bag to go anywhere for the weekend. You can pile stuff high and clip the cargo net to the included hooks to keep the stuff in back. You can even put stuff in the net and get it from the back seat. The back seats are 1/3 2/3 and even have 3 recline positions.
It's a pleasure on the road, with acceleration with most 6 cylinder sport sedans and doing 80-85 is a breeze, with good handling, good brakes (perhaps the most important thing).
The Bose system is great, almost as good as the custom system in my Porsche without the trouble and the extra base tube you've got to find room for. The truck is very comfortable for four or even five to take on a trip or just to take some business associates to lunch.
The LE gets the Infinity shift on the fly, computer controlled 4WD and removes the manual lever. The leather package gets you side air bags in the heated seats. I find it hard to remember all the stuff...
The proof of how good the truck is that I convinced my father-in-law to buy virtually the identical truck (all except the back seat video) to use while getting all kinds of stuff to his house and his buildings. My mother-in-law had talked him out of a 4Runner two years ago because she didn't want a truck. After driving it for 200 miles yesterday for the first time, I couldn't get her off the phone raving about how good the Pathfinder is. Good luck getting her back in her car.
It's a luxury car that can haul the goods...
P.S. I originally stated that my only Con was that the video system did not come with headphones or a remote. I ran into a friend who works for Audiovox who makes most of the in car video systems for Nissan, and he said they all come with wireless headphones and a remote. I called the dealer and they simply forgot to give them to me. So the kids can watch, rewind and listen all on their own without bothering me listing to Sammy Hagar up front. So turns out, the BMW comes with WIRED headphones for it's rear seat video, the Nissan comes with wireless.
Get the gold/gray, the black or the burgundy. Both the tan leather and the black interiors are very nice.
As an update, 12/04 91,600 miles and except for changing the oil, tires and cutting the front rotors NO, that is NO (knock on wood) trouble.
Contact me if you've got any questions - I'm about to refer a friend to my dealer to get his. Nine11c2@optonline.net
Amount Paid (US$):
2001Model and Options:
LE, Leather, Bose radio, Navigation System, Video Player, 16 inch Tire