2009 Nissan Pathfinder LE 4x4

Gee, I remember when the Nissan Pathfinder was, like, a super-desirable, chic import SUV. Now it's just one competent SUV in a huge class of them.

Powertrain refinement is this vehicle's biggest downfall. Nissan just cannot seem to engineer its V-6 so it's not noisy and coarse. There's sufficient power and torque here, but this vehicle weighs nearly 5000 pounds, and I was driving it with just my 180-lb self and my 8-lb briefcase on board.

The most delightful thing about our Pathfinder was that it was equipped with a heated steering wheel! This was nice to find on a cold winter's night. I stumbled across the switch for it when I was searching for a way to turn up the instrument panel lighting, which someone had set to the dimmest setting. I had to consult the owners manual to figure that one out.

Don't get me wrong; the Nissan Pathfinder is a nice mid-size SUV with a real, live four-wheel-drive system with automatic mode and low range, and its third-row seat increases capacity to the all-important seven. If you're in the market for a vehicle in this class, the Pathfinder is certainly worth considering alongside the Toyota 4Runner, the Ford Explorer, and the Jeep Commander.

Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor

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