If the path is paved, it finds its way just fine

The Washington Post Sunday - - CARS - War­ren.brown@wash­post.com

You won’t be driv­ing many rough or un­paved roads in this one.

Put sim­ply: You won’t be go­ing off-road — driv­ing over rocks or fallen tim­ber, cross­ing fast-flow­ing streams or churn­ing through deep mud.

The Nis­san Pathfinder, a com­pact sport-util­ity ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tured by the once-in­de­pen­dent Nis­san Mo­tor Co., be­gin­ning in 1985, has changed.

Nis­san is now part of a Euro­pean au­to­mo­tive con­glom­er­ate that in­cludes Re­nault. Its pri­mary pur­pose is to sell cars in­stead of pleas­ing — at high pro­duc­tion ex­pense but low cor­po­rate profit — the hard-driv­ing, small mar­ket-seg­ment of off-road­ers.

The trim name for the 2017 Pathfinder driven for this col­umn, Plat­inum, is in­dica­tive.

You don’t drive plat­inum through mud. Nor do you de­lib­er­ately bang it against rocks or drive it down­hill, ex­pos­ing it to the rav­ages of sticks, sharp stones and deep ditches hid­ing de­struc­tive sur­prises.

None of this means the 2017 Nis­san Pathfinder is dis­pleas­ing on long road trips. Quite the con­trary. It is per­fect for lengthy in­ter­state drives. It be­haves well in mod­er­ate rain and wind.

I drove the Pathfinder Plat­inum in mid­sum­mer, al­most en­tirely on paved high­ways. I had no trou­ble in rain or wind, and I sus­pect I would have had per­fect Pathfinder drives in mod­er­ate snow or other win­try con­di­tions.

Mod­er­ate? Why do I cling to that word in au­to­mo­tive re­views? Sim­ple.

The longer I live, the more I re­al­ize that “mod­er­a­tion” is an in­ti­mate friend of “com­mon sense.” For ex­am­ple, in in­clement weather — heavy rains, winds or snow — it makes sense to choose mod­er­a­tion in travel. Find a safe spot and park or shel­ter in place.

It mat­ters lit­tle what type of ve­hi­cle you are driv­ing. Over­rid­ing com­mon sense can lead to dis­as­ter. Most of us re­al­ize that, which is why most of us avoid risky drives.

Frankly, I be­lieve that is why the for­merly rough-and-tum­ble Nis­san Pathfinder has changed to a fam­ily com­fort wagon.

It is now a get-me-there ve­hi­cle, one that in­sists on com­fort­able, safe and rea­son­ably ef­fi­cient trans­port. Power? It is equipped with a gaso­line 3.5-liter V-6 (284 horse­power, 259 pound-feet of torque). That is more than enough oomph to safely en­ter and change lanes on high­ways. With this one, you also can tow a trailer weigh­ing 6,000 pounds.

That is enough for most of us. We’re not re­ally han­ker­ing for cars and trucks that can break the speed limit. We just want to get there and do so safely, com­fort­ably, in style. Look around. Most of the things now called “sport-util­ity ve­hi­cles” have changed to sat­isfy those real cus­tomer needs and wants.

Of course, there are those who en­joy the risks and thrills of a high-moun­tain, two-week camp-and-drive trip along the U.S. Con­ti­nen­tal Di­vide. I was one of them. I was 33. I am now nearly 70. Nei­ther my doc­tors, my fam­ily nor my bones would al­low me to make that of­froad trip again — not in a Nis­san Pathfinder, a Jeep of any sort, or a Land Rover.

Most of my driv­ing now is on paved roads, where I am a fel­low mo­torist with the vast ma­jor­ity of you who want to get where you want to go — safely, com­fort­ably, ef­fi­ciently, in style.

That is why sport-util­ity ve­hi­cles have changed. That is why the Nis­san Pathfinder no longer is the rough-and­tum­ble ve­hi­cle it was in 1985. That is why it still sells.

It is per­fect for in­ter­state drives. It be­haves well in mod­er­ate rain and wind.


War­ren Brown ON WHEELS

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