The 2017 Nissan Pathfinder offers best-in-class towing at 6,000 pounds, has intelligent cruise control, and Auto Modes for all driving conditions.The new 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is a fun wagon with an off-road driving mode that traverses all types of terrain.The 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 4Motion has a 2.0-L turbo and six-speed auto trans with Sport Mode, plus an impressive list of standard equipment.

Nissan Pathfinder and Volkswagen models provide excellent transport, on or off road

One of our favorite SUVs over the past several years has been the Nissan Pathfinder. Our recent test of the 2017 Pathfinder Platinum 4WD (fourth of five offerings) proved that our likes of this unit are well founded.

     A few years ago, we took an extended road and camping trip in a Pathfinder and found it to be both spacious and comfortable over a 10-day trip. On our recent weeklong test, we logged more than 700 miles, traversed a mountain pass, and loaded up our tester with cargo, and again we experienced the comfort and usability we now expect from this classy SUV.

     All Pathfinder models are powered by a DOHC 3.5-L V-6 engine that produces 284 HP at 6,400 RPM, and 259 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 RPM. An XTRONIC continuously variable transmission is also standard, and the pair operate with efficiency and a genuine smoothness in all conditions, from in-city to highway driving.

     Fuel economy with the Pathfinder with 4WD is rated at 21 MPG overall (19/city and 26/highway) and we garnered 24.8 MPG overall with mainly highway driving.

     The seven-passenger, three-row Pathfinder offers a pleasant 157.8 cubic feet of interior passenger volume (plenty of our purposes) plus up to 79.8 cubic feet of cargo space with second and third row sets folded flat.

     One likeable attribute on the Pathfinder is its suspension and steering system that makes for a comfy ride and excellent handling. With an independent strut front and independent multi-link rear suspension, the SUV has Dual Flow Path shocks plus front and rear stabilizer bars. The electronic hydraulic power-assisted, speed-sensitive steering allows for gracious turning and handling characteristics.

     Our 4WD Pathfinder model was loaded with virtually everything we needed or wanted, including likable features such as the NissanConnect with navigation, voice recognition, full satellite, Bluetooth, streaming, plus a Bose Premium Audio System with 13 speakers and Acoustic Waveguide technology, a tow hitch receiver, heated outside mirrors, fog lamps, roof rails, Around View Monitor with moving objet detection, 20-inch tires that gripped the road, and so much more.

     From heated and cooled front seats (and heated second row seats) to a very usable tri-zone climate control system, interior attributes are plentiful. Safety features are extensive and include Vehicle Dynamic Control, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, rear sonar system, and more. The SUV is a 2017 IIHS Top Safety Pick+.

     MSRP on our tested Pathfinder Platinum was $43,500 with one option – carpeted floor mats for $225. Loaded, comfortable, easy to drive, and a winner in our book.

     Our recent test of two all-wheel-drive Volkswagen products was also a surprisingly pleasant experience. The 2017 Golf Alltrack TSI S 4Motion and the 2017 Tiguan 2.0T SEL 4Motion were both fun vehicles to drive. The Alltrack was quicker than we expected with its 1.8-L DOHC four-cylinder turbo married to a six-speed DSG automatic transmission. With its driving mode selections, this is a little beast on- or off-road mode.

     Referred to Volkswagen as an “adventurous wagon,” we found the new Alltrack not only to be nimble but quick-turning and solid, both on- and off-road. It has a four-wheel independent raised suspension with a front underbody guard for off-roading.

     Likes included front fog lamps, Halogen head lamps, electronic stability control, heated front seats, heated and foldable power adjustable side mirrors, rear view camera, and more, including the VW Car-Net App-Connect with Smartphone integration and a full range of app technology and security features.

     With a MSRP of $26,950, our TSI S tester had just one option – a driver assist package for $845 (included adaptive cruise control, front and rear park assist, and autonomous emergency braking).

     Though the 2017 Tiguan 2.0T SEL 4Motion had a base price $10,000 higher than the Alltrack, this is a truly loaded SUV with a power sunroof, heated/foldable outside mirrors, heated/leather trimmed front seats, bi-xenon automatic head lamps, a nine-speaker Fender premium audio system, 19-inch wheels with all-season tires, the VW Car-Net system, and abundant safety and technology features that.

     The only option on the $36,475 MSRP turbocharged unit was $530 for a trailer hitch. All in all, this all-wheel-drive SUV is a delight to drive.

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.