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 Mazda CX-90
A Force To Be Reckoned With
If you’ve been following Mazda lately, you’ll know they’ve been fielding some serious new designs; you could even say, they’re latest efforts are 10-times better than before. After all, the CX-3 became the CX-30, then CX-5 became the CX-50, and now it’s the CX-9’s turn. So, let’s find out if this all-new CX-90, their largest SUV yet, is a real multiplier or if it’s all just a numbers game.
Don’t think of this 2024 Mazda CX-90 so much as an updated version of the CX-9, as it’s more of a complete rethink of their 3-row crossover, the first built on an all-new, large vehicle platform for the brand. And this platform carries a host of surprises. Not only does it make the CX-90 bigger by every dimension, but it’s a rear-drive architecture, and features all-new powertrains, including the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, and even an inline-6 engine.
Why an inline-6 to replace the CX-9’s turbo-4? Well, in general terms, I6s are better balanced, run smoother, and can deliver more torque at lower RPM. Just ask the BMW faithful, or any of the truckers you see going down the road hauling more than 20-tons of cargo with their inline-6s.
There are 2-versions of the longitudinally mounted 6, both assisted by turbocharging and a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Output for the base Turbo is 280-horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque; this Turbo S cranks it up to 340-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. The PHEV, on the other hand, is based on a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4, working with a 100-kW electric motor to deliver 323-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. A 17.8-kWh battery delivers 26-miles of EV driving.
It’s not the prettiest SUV, but it does have very smooth body work; plus, the longer hood and 7½-inches of wheelbase stretch over the CX-9, give it more stately proportions. All CX-90s come with i-Activ all-wheel drive and the brand’s first 8-speed automatic transmission; the longer wheelbase allows tow ratings to step up from 3,500-lbs. to 5,000.
At the test track, our Turbo S launched effortlessly with good grip on the way to a 6.4-second 0-60. The smooth vibes continued throughout the ¼-mile, with refined power delivery, seamless shifts, and a noticeably more solid and stable feel at speed than the CX-9. Our best time was 14.7-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
Through the cones, it still behaves like a Mazda, with very good steering feel and a solid presence in corners at low to moderate speeds. Some understeer and body roll will show up when pushed hard, but Mazda’s Kinematic Posture Control uses subtle selective braking to help the vehicle rotate, and safety systems will step in well-before it gets out of sorts.
There’s a nice firm feel to the brake pedal, delivering good stopping results of 118-feet from 60 miles-per-hour. You can feel a lot of weight transfer, but nosedive was well contained.
Another unique element the CX-90 brings is seating arrangements for 6,7, or 8. It’s the 8-seater that’s standard with 3-across bench seating for 2nd and 3rd rows. 7-seaters get either captain’s chairs in the 2nd row, or more contoured seats for the 3rd; 6-seaters sport 2nd row captains and the contoured 3rd row. Cargo capacity varies with seating, but is at best 15.9 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 40.1 behind the 2nd, and 75.2 with all seats folded.
As far as what it’s like to actually live with, the CX-90’s cabin is a clear step up, including on some trims suede-like materials, intricate stitching, and real wood, all consistent with what we’ve seen from the brand lately. A 10-inch dashtop touchscreen is standard for infotainment, with upper trims getting a larger 12.3-incher. We applaud Mazda’s inclusion of plenty of old-school manual controls for radio and climate, which keeps menu diving limited to secondary functions. PHEVs get a few unique controls and readouts to monitor drive modes and battery level.
Overall, the CX-90 is highly functional, entertainingly sporty to drive, and will be more competitive in the ever growing 3-row family crossover segment; and its posh interior may even attract luxury buyers on a budget.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Turbo S are 23-City, 28-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a good 26.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Pricing begins with the base Turbo at Select trim for $40,970, PHEVs are available in Preferred trim and above starting at $48,820, and the Turbo S starts at $53,125.
Force multiplier is a military term for when strategic elements come together to produce results greater than would have been possible without them. Well, no high-level math skills are necessary here to see that the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is clearly more than just a much better CX-9; it’s now a force to be reckoned with in the 3-row family crossover segment.
- Engine: 3.3-liter I-6
- Horsepower: 340
- 0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 26.5 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 369 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.7-seconds at 98 mph
- EPA: 23 City / 28 Highway / 25 Combined
- Starting Price: $40,970