2017 Nissan Pathfinder
The Nissan Pathfinder has always been a great family utility choice, and made even better when it became a 3-row crossover for 2013. It even won our driver’s choice honors that year. But with competition being what it is, it’s no wonder Nissan has quickly upgraded it, with hopes of making it even more desirable. So, let’s see if they succeeded.
Like many of you, we were more than skeptical when the 4th gen Nissan Pathfinder switched back to a unibody design for 2013. But it turns out we had no need to worry as it continues to have more capabilities than most buyers demand for this segment. Updates for 2017, only furthers their case for making the switch.
That ’13 Pathfinder quickly became one of our favorite 3-row crossovers, and after these upgrades, we still like just about everything about it.
Front seats remain a real high point, offering better comfort than both the Honda Pilot and GMC Acadia; and perhaps more importantly, there’s more room in the passenger side area for your partner to get comfortable.
2nd row seats slide and recline easily, as well as fold almost fully flat, with barely any gaps in the load floor for things to fall through.
Cargo space is quite good, 16.0 cu-ft. behind the 3rd row, 47.8 behind the 2nd, and 79.8 with everything folded; all accessed by a new motion-activated lift gate.
The list of standard features is substantial, and just about everything else you could want is available; including Nissan’s Around view monitor. While copied by many others, it’s still excellent here.
The dash design is clearly showing its age, yet remains brilliant in execution; with great blending of manual controls, central controller, and touchscreen.
On that, all trims now get an 8-inch touchscreen, and while the navigation graphics have also improved, they’re not “cutting edge” by any means.
There is plenty of small item storage, as well as places to keep things plugged in yet hidden.
The ride is as great as it has always been, almost perfectly balancing a soft posture without rolling too much or feeling spineless in corners. Though it also feels older and heavier than some of its newer and lighter competition, and not quite as easy to whip around in tight situations.
There’s upgraded safety for ’17; including Forward Emergency Braking, and Moving Object Detection.
But most will be bigger fans of the upgraded engine. Making an already great thing even better, Nissan has added direct-injection to the 3.5-liter V6, boosting horsepower up to 284; a gain of 24. Likewise, torque is up 19 lb-ft. to 259.
The power difference in noticeable, and it even sounds better. Best of all, towing capacity is up 1,000-lbs.; now at 6,000-lbs, closer to full size SUVs than most 3-row crossovers.
Upgrades to the CVT transmission are also obvious, with none of the looseness we experienced with our long-term Pathfinder.
The D-Step Logic Control imitates a true automatic better than ever; in fact, it tricked one of our test drivers into praising the transmission’s buttery smooth shifts.
Pathfinder pricing starts with S trim, at $31,230; while up-level Platinum goes for $43,010. All-wheel-drive for all trims adds just $1,690 more.
Over the four years that it has been on sale, the 3-row crossover Pathfinder has not only stood up well to increasing competition, but lost none of its shine whatsoever. Actually, this new-and-improved edition is indeed better than ever. What that means, is the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder is more than competitive with the rest in the segment; and will certainly help Nissan continue to gobble up more and more market-share.
- Engine: 3.5 liter
- Horsepower: 284
- Torque: 259 lb-ft.
2024 Toyota Grand Highlander
Toyota Goes Bigger And Better
The Toyota Highlander has been been of the best-selling 3-row family utilities for years now. But Toyota is always looking to grow their business, and now they’re attempting to do that by growing the Highlander. Say hello to the Toyota Grand Highlander.
Toyota has no problem selling utility vehicles; they currently have eight in their lineup to choose from, divided into distinct body-on-frame and unitized crossover families. Well, add one more to the crossover list, it’s the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander. Now, don’t think of the Grand Highlander so much as just a bigger version of the Highlander as it is an all-new vehicle. Longer than the Highlander by 6 1/2-inches, the priorities were to deliver true space for adults in the 3rd row while still providing more cargo room behind it.
Though large and in charge, it seems to take most of its styling cues from a much smaller member of the Toyota family, the latest RAV4. That means a big “hammerhead” trapezoidal grille, minimal overhangs, and different wheel designs than the current Highlander, all but the base XLE trim rolling on 20s.
Overall length beats Honda Pilot by 1½- inches, and 4½-inches over the Kia Telluride, so it’s a biggie!
On the road, there’s a Lexus-like refinement and borderline luxury car smoothness to the ride; above what the current Highlander delivers.
Though, there is an actual Lexus version of the Grand Highlander already announced, the TX.
The Toyota Grand Highlander feels very powerful too, when dealing with our tester’s Hybrid Max powertrain.
It sports a 2.4-liter turbo-4 with electric motor assist to deliver 362-horsepower and 400 lb-ft. of torque through a 6-speed automatic. All wheel drive is standard and max tow rating is 5,000-lbs.
But that’s just 1 of the 3 powertrains. Shared with the Highlander is a 245-horsepower 2.5-liter Hybrid with a CVT. The base engine is a 265-horsepower 2.4-liter turbo I4 with an 8-speed automatic. Both available in front or all-wheel drive.
Our Hybrid Max has unique front and rear bumpers, along with dual exhaust. So we let that 6-speed shift us down our Mason Dixon Dragway test track.
For such a big vehicle, it gets up to speed quickly, leaving the line with a slight chirp of the tires on its way to 60 in just 5.6-seconds. You can feel the EV motor boost at launch, but it also aids in keeping power delivery consistent all the way down the track.
Gear changes were very smooth and it felt solid and stable throughout the ¼-mile, which we finished in 14.3-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
The Grand Highlander preferred a more leisurely pace through our handling course. Still, it doesn’t feel overly big or ungainly.
Yet you could really feel the 4,900-lbs. of weight of our Platinum Hybrid Max through here with significant body roll and apparent understeer.
Light steering and an overall soft feel are additional indicators that the main aims here were getting the family up to speed quickly and down the highway in comfort.
In braking runs, there was a noteable amount of nose dive, but stops from 60 were straight and consistent, with a good 115-foot average stopping distance from 60 miles-per-hour.
While an all-new vehicle, there’s a very familiar unassuming quality-minded Toyota interior, with their latest multimedia system which gets a 12.3-inch touchscreen standard.
The 3rd row is indeed much more than an afterthought; access is easy even for adults, there’s great space back there, and belts for 3 occupants. Plus, they were even able to provide 20.6 cubic-ft. of rear cargo space. Folding the 60/40 split 3rd row grows the space to 57.9 cubic-ft, and there’s a generous max of 97.5 with all seatbacks folded.
But while still roomy, it does seem like a bit of 2nd row space was compromised; either a 3-person bench or a pair of captain’s chairs makes for 8 or 7-passenger capacity.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Hybrid Max are 26-City, 27-Highway, and 27-Combined. We averaged 26.2 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
That makes for an average Energy Impact Score, with use of 11.0-barrels of oil yearly, with 5.5-tons of CO2 emissions.
Being the grandest of all Highlanders, no need for basic L or LE trims; the Grand Highlander is available in XLE, Limited, and Platinum grades only, starting with XLE at $44,465, which is certainly on par with what you pay for a top-notch 3-row family utility these days.
For Toyota, making a bigger and better version of their fast-selling Highlander was a no-brainer; and somehow in the process, they managed to seemingly shove an entire Sienna minivan in there. The impressive 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander not only gives Toyota buyers a bigger option to step up to, it primes them to be an even bigger player than they already are in the 3-row crossover game.
- Engine: 2.4-liter I-4 Turbo
- Horsepower: 362
- 0-60 mph: 5.6 seconds
- 60-0 Braking (avg): 115 feet
- MW Fuel Economy: 26.2 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 400 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.3 seconds at 98 mph
- EPA: 26 City / 27 Highway / 27 Combined