Nissan Pathfinder LE 4X4 Review

As the carpocalypse continues, weeklong tests of vehicles take on a new feeling...each one making its case for why it should be around, still in the manufacturer's lineup when things finally get better.

The Nissan Pathfinder makes a strong case. Like the smaller XTerra and most of Nissan's truck products, it sends a message of rugged reliability. There's plenty of space, loads of utility and more than a little sport.

The LE comes with a 4-liter V6 making 266 horsepower, teamed with a 5-speed automatic transmission, 18 inch alloy wheels, leather-appointed first and second row seats, a serious Bose 10-speaker AM/FM/XM/mp3 6-disc changer with dual subwoofers, power everything, Bluetooth and more.

The shock comes when you look at the sticker. Base: $38,510. The nav package and floormats (along with destination charges) ran it up to $41,295. Now, admittedly, the Pathfinder is a bigger and better vehicle than it was just a few years ago...and this is the top of the line model.

But still: 41 and change for a Nissan SUV. 14 city/20 highway EPA estimated miles per gallon. Our advice: Embrace the new austerity...opt for the base S model. You'll keep the engine, but trade down to 16-inch wheels, cloth interior and lose the luxo stuff. You'll also carve $11,300 off the base price...enough to add some options back into the mix with an eyedropper and come up with a solid $30,000 Pathfinder.