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|Traveling in a Family Way: 2009 Nissan Pathfinder SE 4x4|
|Written by Brandy Schaffels|
|Tuesday, 06 January 2009 07:19|
A Truly Moving Experience
My recent purchase of a new home sent me scrambling for large SUVS with cavernous cargo-carrying capacities in what became a month-long comparison of vehicular storage spaces. The 2009 Nissan Pathfinder SE emerged at the top of my list, boasting the largest, most functional interior as well as a host of standard features that make this giant sport-utility vehicle a versatile and comfortable family hauler.
The popular Pathfinder offers seating for seven in a convenient configuration that easily splits and folds in a variety of ways to allow accommodating access to the back row, or folds completely flat to swallow an enormous collection of boxes and gear. With the second- and third-row seats lowered, the cargo area holds nearly 80 cubic feet: In practical terms that's equivalent to six large and six medium Home Depot boxes, plus an assortment of other impedimenta wedged in between and around them. The 40/20/40-split second row allowed me to keep my six-year-old safely strapped into his booster while I was still able to haul plenty of our belongings in the space around him. Two outboard Latch anchors and three tethers let you safely locate up to three car-seat-sized kidlets in the second row. If you're hauling a full platoon of people, put the shorties in the wayback; your longer-legged passengers will thank you.
A fabulous rear-view camera system (part of the $1300 Journey package) provided amazing visibility behind the vehicle, and was particularly invaluable when the interior was crammed so full of my life's possessions that I couldn't use my interior rear-view mirror. Colored visual guides on the large dash-mounted viewscreen offer both directional and distance assistance to make safely backing into and out of parking spaces a piece of cake.
Make no mistake: The Pathfinder is a big SUV and navigates more like a truck than a luxury car. The rear handles are set high on the door, which could make entry difficult for smaller kids, but its 20-inch-tall step-in height is more easily mounted thanks to side running boards and doorway handgrips. An advantage of this height is seen in its 8.9-inch ground clearance and respectable 22.7-degree breakover angle, which come in handy should you have to drive this SUV on more rugged terrain than the average paved roads and driveways. The 266-horsepower 4.0-liter V-6-powered Pathfinder's 6000-pound towing capacity (7000 pounds on the 310-horsepower/5.6-liter V-8 LE model) also means you can also haul plenty of stuff behind, if you need to.
Nissan's intelligent key system makes access easy when your hands are full: as long as the keyfob is on your body or in your purse, all you have to do is touch a button on the handle to lock or unlock the doors, and (once inside) press another button to start the car. And it IS intelligent, too; when I was carrying a sleeping baby and my older boy was carrying my bag, the vehicle would only unlock the door on the side closest to where the key was physically present. That meant I had to walk around to where my son diligently held my bag before I could deposit his little brother into his carseat; it also means no unwelcome strangers can hop in from the other side when you approach the vehicle. If you lose track of keys the way I do, this feature makes the $1750 price of the Premium option package (which also includes a 10-speaker Bose audio system with 6-cd changer, XM satellite radio, and Bluetooth hands-free phone system) absolutely worth its price.
As with Nissan's previous model, the 2009 Pathfinder offers plenty of standard safety equipment, including four-wheel antilock disc brakes, electronic brake force distribution, and traction and stability control systems. For 2009, front-seat side impact airbags and roof-mounted side curtain airbags for all three rows are now standard across the entire line.
An assortment of cup and bottle holders offer eight separate locations to stow beverages, and four 12-volt powerplugs will allow passengers in every seating position the opportunity to charge their personal electronic devices. Heated seats (part of the $1850 Leather package) will keep front-row riders warm on even the coldest winter morning.
The rear hatch is heavy, and doesn't offer pushbutton operation, so at least one of your hands must be empty to close the rear portal. Fortunately, the intelligent keyless system allows you to open the hatch with just a gentle touch to its access pad.
If you're the family who always hauls the troop's camping gear, or who brings the tables to the annual silent auction, you'll appreciate the cavernous interior. On the other hand, if you're a mom who needs room for up to seven passengers, you'll appreciate the convenient flip and fold seat access when loading your brood. Either way, this supersized SUV can move both your people and your stuff, while transporting you in rugged comfort.