When the Pathfinder was last redesigned in 2013, SUVs were trending decidedly more car-like and that upset some Nissan loyalists who felt like their beloved Pathfinder had lost some of its edge. But now with this all-new 5th generation model adventure is back on the menu. My time behind the wheel has been limited but Nissan has done this cabin right and based upon everything I’ve seen they’ve got themselves a legitimate contender. It’s more family friendly and the interior dimensions have been tweaked in all the right ways with more cargo room, a wider 3rd row and seating for up to 8. And hey, it has wireless CarPlay so you know I’m good with the tech. Pricing, including destination, ranges between $34,560 for a base Pathfinder S 2WD to $49,240 for a 4WD Platinum. Telluride, Highlander and Explorer now have some tougher competition. The new Pathfinder lands in showrooms early this summer.
Buick’s lineup of 4 SUVs is selling especially well and it’s the hottest GM brand at the moment. Bigger than the Encore and smaller than the Enclave this is a compact-sized 2-row SUV that now looks much more attractive and car-like. It’s priced from the mid $30ks and now comes in Buick’s highest Avenir trim and available in front-drive model or all-wheel drive as an option. There’s lots of cool stuff in here like a head-up display, heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, an air quality sensor, a really nice sounding Bose 9-speaker audio system, wireless phone projection with a conveniently placed wireless charger, remote start, a rear camera mirror, auto high beams, adaptive cruise, the vibrating safety alert driver’s seat, a pano roof and top notch, intuitive infotainment with some cool apps and easy to use voice controls. So people who love stuff more than they love driving will be giddy with the Avenir. This new Envision is pretty good, but would I rather have a Venza?
If you’re shopping for a new minivan you’ve picked a good time. First of all, there are only 4 models from which to choose so that makes life simpler but more importantly they’ve all been recently refreshed or completely redesigned with the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica midway through their product cycles and the Kia Carnival and Toyota Sienna the all-new vans on the block. So minus the Pacifica’s ace in the hole with its more creative seating configurations – the personal importance of which only you can decide — Can the Sienna bump itself to the top of the class? From its provocative new styling that now presents as even more premium and handsome than the Pacifica’s to its Lexus-infused aura I, and everyone I’ve been transporting this week have been raving about the Sienna’s sophistication and family-friendly personality. I won’t bury the lede. This Sienna is arguably the best minivan of all-time.
The Mercedes E450 is undoubtedly a rich, robust car with lots of goodies. It’s a very satisfying way to travel and there are all sorts of ways to upgrade and customize it taking it from $62,000 to $82,000. With the air suspension, rapid heating for the massaging, leather seats, increased cabin isolation via acoustic and heat absorbing glass, the air balance fragrance atomizer and a Burmester Surround Sound System, spending time in here is akin to a day at the spa. The hallmark characteristic of this E-Class are its beautifully, soft, sumptuous and dynamic drive that is just oozing with high-class refinement. The E450 has been designed to melt away stress and deliver a buttery smooth experience. It’s the strong/silent type with robust power and impeccable handling in the luxury sedan vein. So choose a massage program, up the fragrance level and heat up all the touch-points; the E450 embodies relaxing precision and is an absolute delight to drive.
The 2021 Pacifica will offer an advanced all-wheel drive system that preserves Chrysler’s coolest and most proprietary feature – Stow ‘n Go seating – the ability for the 2nd row seats to disappear into the floor. There’s also a new bougie Pinnacle model with standard all-wheel drive and a bunch of add on goodies such as the Premium and Safety Sphere Group and the Uconnect Theater Family Group which includes a new feature called the FamCam Interior Camera – a way for parents to keep tabs on the little ones, even in rear facing car seats. And the seatback video screens have always been a big hit right from the start. With a MSRP at $55,665, this isn’t your blue collar minivan, but it still does an excellent job of making family travel as easy and as enjoyable as can be and offers big time flexibility with a heaping dose of Chrysler cleverness.