2017 Nissan Pathfinder

2017 Nissan Pathfinder

Episode 3638
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

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.
2023 Mazda3

2023 Mazda3

Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better

Episode 4304
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.

The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.

Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.

2023 Mazda3 6
2023 Mazda3 2
2023 Mazda3 5
2023 Mazda3 3
2023 Mazda3 4
2023 Mazda3 62023 Mazda3 22023 Mazda3 52023 Mazda3 32023 Mazda3 4

A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.

That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.

The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.

At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.

2023 Mazda3 1

While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.

Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.

Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!


As Tested

  • Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
  • Horsepower: 227 | 250
  • 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
  • Transmission: 6-speed auto
  • Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
  • EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined