Once upon a time, somebody looked at a small, off-roading vehicle like the Nissan Pathfinder and said to himself: “You know, I think I could use that to replace the family station wagon. It’s a lot cooler looking than dad’s Country Squire. And I wouldn’t be caught dead in a minivan.” From then on, the Pathfinder and other SUVs have become bigger and more refined to meet the demand of millions of like-minded buyers.
You can largely see this in the Pathfinder’s timeline of four generations. The newest model is the most carlike and excels as a three-row family hauler. Earlier Pathfinders — and the third generation in particular — were more rugged and capable for towing, but not as comfortable or fuel efficient.