2011 Pathfinder New Car Test Drive
The Audi Q7 offers strength and refinement in a large, luxurious SUV. It is a paragon of driving elegance and interior refinement.
The Q7 shares its solid architecture with the Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne. The Audi rides on a longer wheelbase, however, and the Q7 has a more compliant ride than the Volkswagen and Porsche. The Q7 is the longest of the three, and thus is the only one to offer three-row seating. To make its cabin more luxurious and inviting, Audi has equipped the Q7 with features not found on the Touareg or Cayenne. And when the weather turns sour, the Q7 benefits from Audi's decades of experience with Quattro all-wheel drive.
With a base price of considerably less than $50,000, the Q7 is priced close to others in the luxury SUV segment, which also includes the Cadillac SRX, Lexus GX 470, and Mercedes-Benz M-Class. With all-wheel drive, a choice of powerful V6 and V8 engines and arguably the classiest interior in the segment, the Q7 deserves serious consideration when shopping for a luxury SUV.
For 2008, its second year, the Q7 gets only minor changes. The model lineup has been streamlined and the base model gets more standard equipment. New wheel designs are available, and optional equipment is shuffled. The Q7 was launched as a 2007 model. The Audi R8 racing car has won five times at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and finished first in an amazing 62 of 79 international endurance races. Audi's first super sports car for the street takes the R8 name, challenging the Ferrari F430 and others, although, at a price that's at least $70,000 less, it might be no contest.
The Audi R8 features an exotic aluminum space frame, and a mid-mounted compact V8 engine making 420 horsepower. The most stunning feature is the clear Lexan cover over the engine, with LED lighting to show it off. The R8's skin was designed for efficient aerodynamics, by the same team of engineers who designed the R8 racing car; an underbody diffuser creates downforce to keep the R8 on the ground at its top speed of 187 miles per hour. It will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.
Despite this performance capability, any little old lady could drive the R8 around on the street. It's that tame. She could probably even crawl in and out herself, and once she got in the cockpit, she would be comfortable. The R8 has every creature comfort of a luxury car, including excellent legroom, and many options, from a navigation system to a 12-speaker, 465-watt sound system. There's decent luggage space under the hood in front, and a lot of space behind the seats.
Two transmissions are offered, a six-speed manual and high-tech six-speed R-Tronic, which is a manual transmission with no clutch pedal, that can be shifted either with paddle shifters, a lever, or by automatic mode. This transmission works best when the car is being driven near its maximum; at casual speeds, it's inconsistent and jerky.
The brakes are race-worthy, and a bit sensitive at slow speeds. The shock absorbers adjust to the road conditions, and the ride can be set in two modes, Comfort and Sport; in either mode it's firm but never harsh. The cornering, with inherent ideal balance and quattro all-wheel drive, is in a class by itself.
What makes the R8 exceptional is that it does it all: incredible high performance without making any compromises for civility and comfort. Audi has redesigned the TT for the 2008 model year. Audi's goal in the redesign was to make a bigger sports car with better handling characteristics. We think they succeeded. The new car is wider and longer than last year's model for more comfort yet it feels light and tossable.
The 2008 Audi TT will appeal to true sports car enthusiasts and weekend cruisers alike. Handling is crisp and steering is direct. With the standard 17-inch tires, the ride is quite compliant for a sports car, but it can be busy and bumpy with the available 18s and 19s. The interior is top-notch Audi. Tight panel gaps and soft-touch materials abound. The new, bigger TT is more accommodating to larger drivers than most of the other sports cars in this class. Both engine choices offer brisk performance, and the 2.0T is easy on gas.
The new Audi TT comes in a range of body styles, with engine and transmission options, and available all-wheel drive. You can choose anything from an affordable, high-mileage hatchback with plenty of cargo capacity to a more-powerful, high-end two-seat roadster with unique interior appointments. Watch your options, though, because pricing can run high. No matter what TT you choose, you'll be sure to have fun behind the wheel.
The TT is once again offered as a two-seat roadster or 2+2 coupe. Each is available with front-wheel drive or quattro all-wheel drive. Both body styles are 5.4 inches longer and 3.1 inches wider than the previous TT, which was last offered in 2006. The wheelbase has grown as well, up 1.8 inches to 97.2, but the weight is down more than 150 pounds, thanks to the extensive use of aluminum. V6 and turbocharged four-cylinder engines return, but the four-cylinder is a 2.0-liter instead of a 1.8.
Both the coupe and roadster are offered as front-wheel-drive 2.0T and all-wheel-drive 3.2 quattro models. The 2.0T models have a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 200 horsepower between 5100 and 6000 rpm and 207 pound-feet of torque from 1800 rpm to 5000 rpm. The 3.2 quattros use a 3.2-liter V6 that produces 250 horsepower at 6300 rpm and 236 pound-feet of torque from 2500 to 3000 rpm.
The 2.0T has EPA fuel economy ratings of 22 mpg city and 29 highway for the roadster and 23/31 for the coupe. EPA ratings for the 3.2 quattros are 17/24 for roadsters and 18/24 for coupes. Audi recommends premium fuel for both engines. The Nissan Pathfinder is among the few SUVs available today that offers real off-road capability. We've driven over some extremely rugged terrain in Pathfinders, including off-road test tracks, and it's in the same capability class as the Toyota 4Runner, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Land Rover LR4.
The 2010 Pathfinder comes with a superb V6 engine and we highly recommend it. Pathfinder is also available with the 5.6-liter V8 engine from the Titan full-size pickup, with 310 horsepower.
Built like a truck and practically unstoppable, the Pathfinder is a seven-passenger mid-size SUV for those who require a genuine truck yet still want style and comfort during the week.
If your off-road driving consists of graded dirt roads, you desire all-wheel drive for bad weather, or tow something as light as personal watercraft, Nissan's Murano crossover will likely do the job. But if your path has tree stumps, rocks, ruts or mud, or if your boat or trailer weighs a couple of tons the Pathfinder may fit.
Yet the Pathfinder offers good handling on the road. With its independent rear suspension and large tires, the Pathfinder rides well and the rack-and-pinion steering works precisely and turns tighter than many mid-size sedans. The Pathfinder will fit easily in garages and standard parking spaces. Also, the Pathfinder doesn't require a climb to get into. Once inside, the driver and passenger are treated to luxurious accommodations and a plethora of convenience features.
The 2008 Audi Q7 lineup features two engines and three trim levels. The base model is the 3.6 quattro and a 3.6 quattro Premium model is offered as well. The top of the line is the 4.2 quattro Premium. All Q7s come with six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmissions that can be shifted manually and quattro all-wheel drive with front, center and rear locking differentials.
The Q7 3.6 is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that delivers 280 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with five-passenger seating, leather upholstery, automatic dual-zone climate control, 12-way power adjustable front seats, 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat, Audi MMI, aluminum interior trim, cruise control, AM/FM/CD stereo with eight speakers and six-disc CD changer, a leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping multi-function steering wheel, power windows and locks, heated power exterior mirrors with tilt-down back-up aid, remote keyless entry, alarm/engine immobilizer system, cooled glovebox, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers with heated nozzles, cargo cover, automatic headlights, front and rear fog lights, roof rails, and P255/55R18 tires on alloy wheels.
Options start with a Comfort Package ($2,900) with heated front seats, 50/50 split-folding third-row seat, Sirius satellite radio, an upgraded sound system, compass, and a power rear liftgate. Also offered as optional for all models are a panorama sunroof ($1,850), rear side airbags ($350), 6,600-pound towing package ($550), and running boards ($1,150).
The 3.6 quattro Premium model ($48,350) adds heated front seats, a 50/50-split folding third-row seat to boost passenger capacity to seven, wood interior trim, Sirius satellite radio, rearview camera, trip computer, compass and outside temperature indicator, universal garage door opener, and front and rear park assist.
Options for the 3.6 Premium include premium Cricket leather ($1000), a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen 1000-watt sound system ($6,300); a Technology package ($4,300) with Audi Side Assist blind-spot warning system, Audi Advanced Key keyless entry and starting, voice control system, DVD-based navigation, and Audi Lane Assist lane-departure warning system; the S line Sport package ($2,950) with sport steering wheel with shift paddles and multicolor stitching, P275/45R20 tires, brushed aluminum interior trim, headlight washers, and unique interior and exterior trim; a Convenience package ($1,950) with Bose sound system, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, memory for the front driver's seat, and bi-xenon adaptive headlights; extended leather upholstery ($3,500); navigation system $(1,800); the 20-inch wheels and tires ($1,600); P265/50R19 tires ($800); six-passenger seating with second-row captain's chairs ($1,500); four-zone automatic climate control ($950); alcantara headliner ($1,500); heated steering wheel and heated rear seats ($850); and a wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel with a wood shift knob ($600).
The 4.2 quattro Premium ($58,600) is powered by a 4.2-liter V8 that produces 350 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. In addition to the standard equipment found on the 3.6 Premium, the 4.2 features a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, four-zone automatic climate control, navigation system with voice recognition, memory for the driver's seat and exterior mirrors, keyless access and starting, remote engine starting, Bose sound system, power rear liftgate, steering-linked adaptive bi-xenon headlights and P275/45R20 tires.
Options exclusive to the 4.2 quattro Premium include adaptive cruise control ($2,100); adaptive air suspension ($2,600); and a version of the Technology package ($1,750) which includes Audi Side Assist, Audi Lane Assist, Audi's Advanced Key, a rear backup camera, and voice recognition.
Safety features on all Q7 models include anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and brake assist, Hill Descent Control, traction control, and an. The 2008 Audi R8 can be ordered with a six-speed manual transmission ($109,000) or the six-speed R-Tronic sequential manual gearbox ($118,000).
Standard equipment includes all the basic creature comforts, including 10-way heated power seats with Alcantara leather seating surfaces, automatic climate control, driver information system, and a seven-speaker 140-watt sound system with in-dash CD player and Sirius radio. Also standard are 19-inch alloy wheels with performance tires, bi-Xenon adaptive headlamps, and advanced anti-theft vehicle alarm system.
Nappa leather seats with four-way lumbar support are an option ($5500). A Premium Package ($3500) features a 12-speaker, 465-watt Bang & Olufsen stereo with six-disc CD changer. Navigation is optional ($2000).
Safety features include dual-stage front airbags with passenger sensor, side door chest airbags, side door knee airbags, electronic stability control, tire pressure monitor, and cool looking LED taillights as well as daytime running lights, because you might be coming up on traffic kind of fast and the car is real low. LED headlights, the first on any production car, are optional. LED lighting most closely resembles daylight, and is less tiring for the driver. The Audi 2.0T is available only with Audi's S-tronic direct shift gearbox (DSG), which is a clutchless manual transmission that can be operated as an automatic or as a manual via the gearshift or steering wheel paddles. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on 3.2 quattros, and the S tronic is a $1400 option.
2.0T models come standard with 225/50R17 all-season run-flat or summer performance tires, alloy wheels, limited-slip differential, leather/alcantara upholstery, automatic climate control, tilt-telescope leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, six-way manually adjustable front seats, center console, aluminum interior trim, heated power mirrors, power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD player, digital clock, trip computer, variable intermittent wipers, rear defogger, theft deterrent system, rear spoiler, and fog lights. Coupes add a split-folding rear seat and roadsters get a manual convertible top with a heated glass rear window.
3.2 quattros come with all-wheel drive, 245/45R17 all-season run-flat or summer performance tires, heated 10-way power adjustable front seats, AM/FM radio with six-disc CD changer, steering wheel audio controls, auto-dimming rearview mirror, compass, HomeLink universal garage door opener, rain-sensing wipers, and automatic headlights. On 3.2 quattro roadsters, the convertible top is power operated.
A Premium package for 2.0T models ($2150 coupe, $3050 roadster) adds heated 10-way power adjustable front seats, steering wheel shift paddles, AM/FM radio with six-disc CD changer, auto-dimming rearview mirror, compass, HomeLink Universal garage door opener, rain-sensing wipers, and for roadsters, a power top.
An additional Enhanced Interior package ($1100 coupe, $1250 convertible) delivers Nappa leather-covered seats, a leather-covered interior instrument pod, underseat cargo bins, and, in roadsters, a trunk passthrough with ski sack. Roadsters can also be ordered with Baseball-Optic leather upholstery for $1000.
Audi's Magnetic Ride Suspension, which has base and sport-oriented shock settings, is a $1400 option. An available S line package ($3000) includes 255/35R19 summer performance tires, special interior trim, and more aggressive front and rear styling.
Other stand-alone options include a power top ($900), a navigation system with iPod interface ($1950), 245/40R18 all-season run-flat or summer performance tires ($800), Bluetooth cell-phone connectivity ($450), heated seats ($450), Bose premium audio with Sirius satellite radio ($1000), and bi-xenon adaptive headlights ($800). The iPod interface is available separately for $250, and the satellite radio costs $350 by itself.
Safety equipment includes front airbags, seat-mounted front side airbags that protect the head and thorax, front knee airbags, ABS with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, traction control, antiskid control, active head restraints, and a tire-pressure monitor. Roadsters have rollover bars mounted behind the seats, and coupes have LATCH-style rear seat child seat anchors. Rear obstacle detection is a $350 option.
The standard warranty is four years or 50,000 miles with no-charge first scheduled maintenance. The 2010 Nissan Pathfinder V6 is offered in three trim levels and with two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. The V8 engine is available only in the top-level Pathfinder LE trim and only with four-wheel drive.
Pathfinder S ($27,440) includes a 4.0-liter V6, five-speed automatic, cloth upholstery, air conditioning with rear seat ducts, power windows and locks, cruise control, immobilizer, 40/20/40 reclining middle-row and 50/50 third-row that both fold flat, active front head restraints, 16-inch alloy wheels, roof rack side rails, rear wiper, rear glass and hatch opening, four map lights, seven assist grips, CD player, extendable visors with illuminated mirrors, and twelve cargo area tie-down points. It's also available with 4WD ($29,440).
Pathfinder SE ($30,610) adds an eight-way power driver seat, 17-inch alloy wheels, fold-flat front passenger seat, power adjustable pedals, dual-zone climate control and rear air, fog lamps, leather wheel (with audio controls) and shifter, running boards, body-color power mirrors, 6CD satellite-ready sound, and illuminated vanity mirrors. The SE is available with 4WD ($32,610). The SE Premium Journey Package ($3,050) adds automatic on/off headlights, HomeLink universal transceiver, auto dimming rearview mirror with compass, 17-inch machined alloy wheels, rearview monitor, roof rack crossbars, Bose AM/FM/6CD audio system with 10 speakers including subwoofer, XM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, and Nissan Intelligent Key.
Pathfinder LE ($36,910) comes with leather upholstery (except the third row) and woodgrain trim, driver memory system, moonroof, heated steering wheel/front seats/mirrors, and the entire contents for the SE Premium Journey Package, plus an upgrade to 18-inch machined alloy wheels. LE 4WD ($39,110) features a more sophisticated All-Mode system with an electronically controlled transfer case. The LE V8 4WD ($42,160) upgrades further to Nissan's XN All-Mode full-time 4WD. HDD Navigation, which includes a 9.3-gigabyte Music Box hard drive, is standard on LE V8 and optional on LE V6 ($1,850). Optional on all LE models is a DVD entertainment system with seven-inch color monitor and two wireless headphones for rear-seat passengers.
Safety features on all Pathfinders include VDC electronic stability control, tire pressure monitors and ABS. Front airbags, front side-impact airbags (for torso protection) and full-length side-curtain airbags (for head protection) are also standard.