2010 Nissan Pathfinder review

Some SUVs are trucks intended for families, softened and eased for family living. Some trucks are insulted by the very thought. The 2010 Nissan Pathfinder is of the second group. It's a truck made for rough roads and cargo. Sure, throw a few kids in there; the Pathfinder can take it, but don't go looking for extra cupholders or a roomy third row. This is a truck that won't accommodate. Love it or leave it. If I were a single person with lots of gear or a big dog I might have loved the Pathfinder. As I am a mom with lots of gear, a small dog and children, I'll leave it, thanks.

It's not that the Pathfinder is awful. Life with kids can work in the Pathfinder. We managed a week with only minor grousing and made it to all our sporting events, classes and errands. Life continued on as usual, but there is just so much of that Pathfinder that didn't fit into our plans. That third row? We never used it. My 10-year-old preferred to sit in the second-row seat rather than cram himself into that teeny seat in the third row. The big V-6 engine with the 6,000-pound towing capacity and four-wheel drive? Yeah, we live in the suburbs and don't own a boat or a horse trailer. We didn't need that.

While the price tag was moderate

the Pathfinder SE 4x4 model I drove cost $36,615 and the base model with rear-wheel drive starts at $27,540

its EPA-estimated 14/20 mpg city/highway and premium gas requirement means this SUV isn't exactly economical.

I will admit that driving the Pathfinder is fun. It sits up high on the road, allowing me to look down upon other vehicles. Literally. The ride is typically bouncy, which is actually pretty entertaining. I'd rather bounce over obstacles than pound into them like a sports car. So, while I felt most of the bumps in the road, it was a bit like riding in a moon bounce. In a good way. The brakes felt solid and brought the Pathfinder to a stop even more quickly than I had anticipated, which only made me feel more secure. The V-6 engine has power enough to match its roar, and it tore up hills and freeway on-ramps like it was on fire. No mountain was too steep for the Pathfinder, and no freeway driver was too aggressive. Other drivers should fear the Pathfinder. I found myself driving more aggressively than usual just because I could.

In the end, though, all that bouncing, hill climbing and cargo loading was fun, but just not how I live my life. The Pathfinder is a decent truck, as trucks go, but I'm just not a truck kind of mama. I prefer a bit more softness, subtlety and ease to my daily drive.

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