Nissan Pathfinder — Well-Refreshed


Lary Coppola is my kinda guy. He has been an e-pal and confidant since the late 80s. Has been a publisher, writer, mayor, and is now Executive Director of a regional port district. Lary is also car nut, and a professional auto reviewer, and I’ve asked him to share some of his reviews in this e-magazine, as well as his insights in other areas of life. Most importantly to me, Lary Coppola is a nice guy. He loves his family, friends, and his country. Lary was one of the first guest contributors I invited to share his secrets from the inside – be it politics, business, or cars!

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Nissan Pathfinder — Well-Refreshed

By Lary Coppola


Model Tested: Nissan Pathfinder Platinum AWD
Engine: 3.5-Liter V6 — 284 Horsepower; 259 Lb. Ft. of Torque
Transmission: XTRONIC Continually Variable Automatic Transmission (CVT)
EPA Ratings: 19/City 26/Highway 21/Combined
Base Price: $43,560
As Tested: $44,685

Overview: The mid-sized Nissan Pathfinder crossover SUV was redesigned for 2014, but refreshed for 2017 and 2018. It boasts an improved power plant, firmer suspension, plus new infotainment and active safety options. While it drives more like a car than a truck, in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel-drive versions., it can handle sensible offroading, plus tow 6000 pounds thanks to the new engine and chassis reinforcements.

Walkaround: The new front and rear fascia, including bumpers, are designed to make the Pathfinder appear more truck-like. A new chrome grille supports that goal. Otherwise, lines are car-like — long hood, raked windshield, and chrome touches.

Interior: This is obviously a family vehicle. Our test drivers had leather seating with plastic surfaces hard, smooth and textured — durable and easy to clean. The new Nissan Connect infotainment system with the touch screen’s pinch and swipe controls and tile icons are obviously Infiniti-influenced.

The Pathfinder’s size means lots of interior room. Nissan balances comfort, access, space, and storage well. There’s cupholders galore, bins, map pockets, bottle holders in each rear door, and cup holders on each side of the third row — which is roomier and easier to access than most. The comfortable front seats offer good support, with lots of adjustments. Our seat time included road trips to Blaine, and from Atlanta to Gulf Shores, Alabama. No complaints about comfort or quietness.

With all the seats up, the Pathfinder has 16 cubic feet behind the third row, and 79.8 cubic feet with them folded.

Behind The Wheel: According to Nissan, 57 percent of the parts in the 3.5-liter V6 is new — including direct injection replacing port injection, electronic variable valve timing, and a new air intake system. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) is unchanged, and Nissan’s D-Step shift logic mimics an automatic’s distinct shifts — but it’s sometimes slow to respond. Although the suspension has been stiffened, the ride is comfortable, and handling is more controlled, making it easy to forget the Pathfinder is a big SUV.

Bottom Line: Substantial changes, starting with the new V6, make the Pathfinder worth a new look. The interior gets high marks for function, and if you need seven seats, this is the one.


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Lexus NX F-Sport: Unconventional small-luxury-crossover SUV

Lexus NX F-Sport: Unconventional small-luxury-crossover SUV

Reviewed by Lary Coppola

Model Tested: 2017 Lexus NX 200t F-Sport

Engine: 2.0-Liter Turbo, 16-valve, DOHC, Dual VVT-IW — 235 HP; 258 lb-ft of Torque

Transmission: 6-speed Automatic, with Dynamic Torque Control AWD

EPA Ratings: 22/city, 27/highway, 24/combined

Base Price: $38,585

As Tested: $46,439

Overview: The 2017 Lexus NX is an unconventional small-luxury-crossover SUV — the first for Lexus — based somewhat upon Toyota’s RAV4 platform. It’s the first with a turbocharged engine, and was the first example of an unconventionally aggressive design (for Toyota/Lexus anyway) that’s showing up elsewhere in Toyota’s product line. Since its introduction in 2015, changes have been mostly evolutionary — which speaks volumes about consumer acceptance of such unconventional design. The NX features brand-specific powertrains that include a turbocharged 16-valve, DOHC 2.0-liter 4-cylinder in the NX 200t F-Sport (our test vehicle) that puts 235 ponies to the pavement.

Walkaround: Visually, the NX is quite unique, with sharply creased bodylines, high doorsills, an up-sweeping rear end, and an oversized version of Lexus’ signature grille. The NX F-Sport takes the whole look-at-me thing way over the top with a black mesh grille, black mirrors, and metallic lower bumper moldings. Add the optional 20-inch wheels, and the F-Sport looks exceptionally recalcitrant. LED-accented door handles add a nice — and practical — touch in the dark.

Interior: The small platform hasn’t hampered the roomy, highly-refined, tastefully-appointed interior one expects from Lexus. There’s power everything and the usual array of advanced technology we all now take for granted. The Z-shaped profile of the center stack and console add tasteful sportiness — right down to the aluminum pedal covers — without overdoing it.

Unlike most crossovers, the seats aren’t elevated, which adds headroom, while seatbacks on the optional power-folding rear seat recline independently. There’s a handy storage compartment under the cargo floor, and an array of cubbies and pockets throughout the cabin.

Behind the Wheel: While most Lexus models are comfort-mobiles, the NX F-Sport has an enthusiastic personality. The powerplant is spirited, handling is quick, and switching to Sport-driving mode changes the transmission’s shift points for impatient acceleration. The NX F-Sport is just plain fun to drive. It handles curves with enthusiasm and feels quite confident at high speeds.

Bottom Line: The NX F-Sport looks, feels, and drives like a different kind a Lexus — because it is. Its bold design, spirited performance, and out-of-the-ordinary personality will attract new, younger buyers to the brand. Lexus’ legendary quality, luxury, and reliability will guarantee they stay.


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Secrets from the Inside … 2020 Edition

The original Secrets from the Inside, a how-to book about car buying, will be re-released this year with updated analysis of how the industry has changed (or, not changed a bit) in today’s market, as we approach 2020.

Tune in to this eMag for information about the new book…

Enrolled Secret Members will also receive Sneak Previews, and even entire chapters in advance.

Lary Coppola Reviews

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Lary has agreed to contribute some of his fabulous auto reviews, as well as writing articles analyzing today’s business world, and political climate. As a former publisher, Lary is one of the most knowledgeable and well-versed guys I know.

As the publisher of this online eMagazine, I really look forward to seeing Lary’s work in my Inbox. I really like his take on things.          –GM

Car Guy Blog

Of all the sections of this eMagazine, this will be one of the most fun for me. Being a car guy since the late 70s, and having just retired from the industry, I look forward to discussing the industry — and telling great stories — from today’s (and yesterday’s) car guys.

Stay tuned to this section. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard car guys banter — but I will definitely make a rule that there is no cussing, or filthy jokes allowed on the Car Guy Blog!

The original book of Secrets

Secrets from the Inside…how to buy a new car below dealer cost
By Greg Meakin

U.S.Publishing 1991
ISBN 0-9631181-0-2
Out of print. Some copies still floating around the internet.

The Insider Access Workbook
By Greg Meakin
U.S. Publishing 1992
Step-by-step, hands on workbook.
Out of print

Secrets from the Inside…30th Anniversary Edition
By Greg Meakin
How the auto industry has changed (or not changed a bit) in three decades
Coming in 2018

Stay tuned to this section. And Secret Members, remember, you will receive Sneak Previews, and even entire chapters, before public release.