Firstly, I'm aware that the headline of this article could be considered a tad misogynistic, but please let me explain. We know that most people (male and female) are far too focused on appearance when searching for a spouse. Sure, we want them to be a nice person, but if they suffer from unsightly body hair or foul smelling toe jam, it doesn't matter if they are the kindest person to walk the earth, most people will swipe left... or whatever the kids do these days. Thus, we miss out on amazing opportunities to meet our perfect compatible matches because we went for looks and lust over compassion and kindness. In fact, the headline could just as easily read "The Feckless and Flatulent Fella Who Made a Great Husband".
What has this got to do with my 2008 Nissan Pathfinder? Think back to your childhood... which cars adorned your bedroom walls? Which models did you meticulously stick together and paint? Growing up in Australia, I had '57 Chevs, 37 Fords, Dodge Vipers, a Lamborghini Countach and loads of Australian muscle cars from the 60's and 70's. Not a Nissan Pathfinder in sight. Strangely, a practical family 4X4 wasn't the stuff of dreams for me...
In October 2018 we had two children and lived in suburban Surrey. Our family whip was our trusty Mk4 Golf GTi which we had owned since arriving in the UK in 2010 and still have today (more on that in a future article). I ride motorcycles, so that was my vehicle of choice when commuting to work in London. However, there were two events which combined to necessitate a new vehicle; one was the impending arrival of small human number 3 and the other was my new job which was in Orkney. For the uninitiated, Orkney is an archipelago 8 miles off the northern coast of Scotland... think of Honolulu, and then picture the exact opposite.
So, as with all significant life decisions, we created some criteria. There were three simple statements on the final piece of paper which read as follows:
1. Big enough to fit 3 small humans and all the outrageous accoutrements.
2. Rugged enough to handle the Orkney winters
3. Not a f*&king MPV
You see, I kind of tricked my wife into moving to Orkney by making her think it was her idea. I'm afraid, as a boy from the bush, 6 years of Surrey life was all I could take... I find it a painfully dull and overcrowded part of the world. But, as a heinous act of revenge, she tricked me into having a third child. I always argued against it on the sole basis of not wanting to drive a God-awful mini-van or MPV. I love cars and I love driving and nothing embodies the antithesis of motoring enthusiasm like a Nissan-f*&king-Qamquat or a Vauxhall-sh*&ting-Zafira. In my mind, a third infant led only to motoring hell.
So, I searched the interwebs and read reviews with gusto. It was clear that it had to be a large 4X4 and, being a good Aussie lad, I went straight for the Toyota Landcruiser. But they're not the same over here and much harder to find. They clearly weren't sold with the same specs as the Australian market. I avoided Land Rovers and Range Rovers because I wanted something that was less of a stinking pile of unreliable faeces than a Discovery, and I'm a bit of a wanker, but not enough to qualify me for Range Rover status. So, it had to be Japanese and it had to be big. And that was when I spotted her... the aforementioned frump photographed in all her uninspiring glory. I started digging a bit deeper... it was big, rugged and got fairly impressive reviews. It also looked a bit like something a UN peacekeeper might drive into a foreign war zone.
Then began the time honoured trawl through used adverts online. Nissan stopped producing the Pathfinder in 2012, so it wasn't going to be new by any stretch. There were two problems that immediately sprung up; they nearly all had moon mileage and loads had clearly been tow vehicles. After many phone calls I finally found a 2008 model with only 60,000 miles in Lincolnshire. I travelled up, took it for a drive and bought it for the princely sum of £8000.
Firstly, I was impressed by the features inside. It has a reversing camera, heated leather seats, cruise control and a DVD player in the back for the rugrats. It has a 2 litre turbo diesel that is... well... fine. I mean, it doesn't give you the famous fizz or make a spine-tingling noise, but it turns the wheels at a reasonable rate. Unfortunately, this particular car has a 6 speed automatic which makes it particularly thirsty around town. Having said that, the changes are smooth enough.
The ride on the highway is OK too. I'm a huge fan of a long road trip. We've taken the Pathfinder from Surrey to Orkney and back 3 times already and It's comfortable on long routes. But the biggest advantage is the cavernous space in the boot. There are two extra folding seats in the back, and even with them up, the boot is big! I wager that you could fit 3 live llamas and a small orchid in the back with no trouble (caution: the llamas may eat the orchid... not sure on llama diets). It's also got a split tailgate so you could reach in to pat the llamas without letting them loose.
It's also got some genuine off-road chops. It is easy to engage 4X4 mode and it has dealt with ice and snow very well so far. I also think it would out perform any Range Rover in the mud and trails as it has much better ground clearance and the driver of the Pathfinder is much less likely to be under the influence of cocaine and golfing trousers.
So, in short, it's good. It isn't sexy. It isn't glamorous. It's not something that you would show off to your mates or bring to the red carpet, but it is honest, trustworthy and reliable. It will make your favourite breakfast and pretend to be interested in all the boring shit you like. It will take some time, but gradually you'll fall in love with the frump.