I do love the new styling; the rugged look is back; and the 3rd row access is really brilliant. In a segment dominated by the Highlander and Explorer with others like the Pilot, Atlas, Telluride and Palisade also raking in the sales, the Pathfinder has a lot of work to do to climb back into the 3-row fray. And it’s safe to say this redesigned model is poised to rejoin those heavy hitters. It’s got the look, the size, the tech and the price to bring families back to a storied nameplate with 35 years of heritage. Two- or 4-wheel drive, V6 power, 7- or 8-passenger seating, prices ranging from under $35,000 to just over $49,000 – these are the foundations of just about every SUV in this segment. And now that the Pathfinder has swapped out its CVT for a geared transmission, increased interior volume, dialed up its off-road credentials and significantly raised its tech level and cabin appeal – it should definitely make it onto your shopping list.
A significantly updated, body-on-frame, 3-ton SUV that prefers premium gas and nets 15mpg. Meet the new 2021 Armada. I really like what Nissan has done with the updated styling and the new badges and Armada lettering look great. And I watch enough Kids Baking Championship to actually understand this beautiful color’s name: Coulis Red Pear. This big touchscreen with its crisper graphics, wireless phone projection and over the air updates immediately adds some much needed modernity. Likewise, the driver display has been updated and this rear view camera mirror is best I’ve ever seen – so big and crystal clear.
It’s stout, refined and quiet – all traits you’d expect in a luxury SUV. It doesn’t feel trucky at all – the ride is smooth and the handling is more than competent despite the big weight it’s managing – all without any trick suspensions or drive modes which is both impressive and outdated at the same time. MSRP as-tested is $71,250 and that doesn’t get you LED interior lighting or a hands-free liftgate; the latter unavailable at any price. If you can live without some of the newness and unavailable features and aren’t scared off by the gas mileage it’ll save you thousands when compared to a comparable Chevy Tahoe.
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?
The off-road segment is the hottest in the industry. Everyone wants a piece of the Jeep life and automakers of all-kinds are jumping in including Subaru with their upcoming Wilderness sub-brand. And of course, the Canyon AT4 is designed with outdoor adventures in mind – an all-terrain package that’s available on every GMC with the exception, ironically, of the Terrain but that’s coming as well for 2022. Their small pickup has been updated this year across the board, and now the AT4 adds off-road confidence through standard 31” Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires, a specifically tuned suspension with an Advanced Hill Decent Control System, an automatic locking rear differential and a transfer case skid plate. It possesses a bolder exterior design with dark chrome finishes, a larger grille and red recovery hooks. But this truck doesn’t stop there. With the addition of the Off-Road Performance Package you get a suspension leveling kit for the front end. Combined with the removal of the front air dam this Canyon’s approach angle is a friendlier 30 degrees. It’s also paired with rockers for added body protection and more skid plates for the middle of the truck. There are also unique 17” gloss black wheels, Carbon Black AT4 logos and a gloss black exhaust tip. All-weather floor liners and a spray-in bed liner round out the upgrades at an added cost of $3,195. It’s a great looking truck in Summit White powered here by the standard 3.6-liter V6 producing 308 horsepower through an 8-speed auto, returning 19mpg. You can also spec this AT4 with a diesel at a significant price increase but either way the AT4 is only available as a full 4-door Crew Cab with either a short or long box. With the next gen Nissan Frontier right around the corner and a recently introduced, beefed-up Honda Ridgeline and Ranger Tremor Off-Road Package already on sale, there are a lot of compelling choices in this segment that will give the Canyon AT4 a run for its money.