2008 Nissan Pathfinder SEnlarge Photo
As Cathy Dodson became a new mom, her hunt for a family vehicle began with a search for a third-row seat and room for cargo. And this first-grade teacher wasn't going to settle on the first minivan that crossed her path. The 2008 Nissan Pathfinder passed muster. Dodson teaches at Stone Academy in Greenville, South Carolina, and she took some time after school to tell me exactly what she was looking for in a family car.
Believe it or not, first graders are learning how to research topics in school, and so Dodson really lived what she teaches when researching a new vehicle for her husband and new baby. Her first revelation? When you're looking for a seven-seater, gas mileage ratings fall within 5 MPG of each other.
Mr. and Mrs. Dodson settled on the Nissan Pathfinder because while they only have one child, they take two or three road trips each year. One of two grandmothers joins them on each trip. The Pathfinder allows them to safely install the car seat, and give Grandma her space. With extra passengers, of course, the luggage increases, too. The Pathfinder comfortably fits it all, even beach gear, a stroller and portable crib.
The 2008 Nissan Pathfinder stood out because the access to the third row happens with one easy movement. Pair that with the head and leg room and straight-up minivan flexibility, and they fell in love with the spacious feel.
Here's what else the Dodsons researched, and why they didn't choose it over the Pathfinder:
Mazda CX-9: Although May's Parent magazine recommends it, the Dodsons loved it until they saw that using the third row killed all cargo space.
Saturn Outlook: Again with the love, but, oh, the price! Sometimes you just can't get past what your budget won't allow.
VW Passat Wagon: Many of the same issues as the VW Jetta they retired, especially the required center placement of baby Thomas's car seat. That makes any third row option useless.
Toyota Highlander: Okay, it's every bit as big and spacious as the Pathfinder, but the Dodsons said it felt lightweight and cheap. After keeping their used Jetta for more than a few years, they didn't think the Highlander would hold up.
Speaking of the VW Jetta that was decommissioned, the Dodsons were so happy to be in their new-to-them (used) 2008 Nissan Pathfinder. Here's the email she sent the school staff when the Green Machine was put to rest:
To all of those that parked next to me and did not wince.
To all of those who helped me jump start my engine.
To all of those who fixed multiple flat tires (Kyle and Irwin)
To all of those that without question either drove my owner home or picked her up last minute upon a hurried phone call.
To all of those who wondered why my back window would not go up and then later covered it with plastic in the rain.
I thank you! I have been put to rest.
The Green Volkswagen Jetta