I drive a Nissan Pathfinder, which is considered a mid-sized sport utility vehicle or SUV.
But I don’t drive an SUV just because it’s cool and I’m a soccer mom (although it is, and I am). I drive an SUV because I drive six miles on gravel roundtrip each time I leave my home, and we thought it would work best for our country lifestyle
The Pathfinder features four-wheel drive power and control. It also has plenty of clearance between the ground and the bottom of the vehicle. Lastly, it is constructed on a frame much like a pickup truck, so it should be better equipped to withstand the gravel roads than a car or minivan, for example.
We haven’t been completely satisfied with our Pathfinder, however. We’ve had some mechanical problems with the Pathfinder, which I’m sure I’ll address at another time. But our biggest complaint has been size; the Pathfinder isn’t nearly as spacious as we would like. Yet we’re hesitant to commit to something larger like a GMC Yukon or a Chevrolet Suburban. These vehicles come with a much higher sticker price in the first place, and then they consume even more fuel. What if the price of gas went back up to the $4 or even $3 per gallon range? I wouldn’t want to be filling one of those tanks, always wondering if there’s a whole in the bottom.
We looked briefly at buying one of the new crossover models on the market. But let’s be honest. Isn’t “crossover” just a new way to say “station wagon”?
I actually loved the Dodge Grand Caravan that I drove for almost eight years before we got the Pathfinder. But you almost can’t even get an all-wheel drive van anymore as manufacturers are focusing more on seats that fold up and disappear and other convenience configurations. And even if you could, there are still the clearance and unibody (lack of a true frame) construction issues.
So what’s a family of five who lives in the country to do? We’re hoping to drive this vehicle for at least another year and then decide. Perhaps a new and exciting vehicle model will come along. Or perhaps the nation’s energy crisis will be solved. We can always hope, right?