Car companies like to look for class-leading advantages for their vehicles. That means comparing their models apples-to-apples with similar, competing models of the same general type – similar size, price, body style and so on. Hold a mid-size sedan up to other mid-size sedans and, if yours leads the pack in any measurable way, well then, that best-in-class capability is something to brag about.
Nissan earned a lot of bragging rights when it re-introduced its Pathfinder sport-utility wagon one year ago. The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder was a fully remade, fourth-generation version of the SUV that had joined the company’s lineup in 1986, more than 25 years earlier. Pathfinder is a three-row, seven-passenger wagon with a starting list price of $29,710 for a two-wheel-drive version. Four-wheel drive adds $1,600.
Carrying its improvements into the 2014 model that is now being introduced, Pathfinder finds its best-in-class superlatives still unchallenged.
According to Nissan, which quotes assessments made by respected independent vehicle raters, the Pathfinder has the best fuel-economy rating among middle-size sport-utility vehicles, with the two-wheel drive version earning government fuel-use estimates of 20 miles-per-gallon in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway (ratings drop one mpg with four-wheel-drive Pathfinders). It has best-in-class passenger space, including best-in-class front head room and leg room. The 2014 Pathfinder leads the class in towing capacity, with an ability to pull 5,000 pounds.
As a not-so-little side note, Nissan also mentions some exclusive features not available in competing sport-utilities. They include its three-level power system on all-wheel-drive models. The set-up lets drivers select full-time front drive for optimum fuel economy, full-time four-wheel drive when roads are at their worst, or automatic monitoring that balances power between front and rear wheels according to conditions.