GirlDriver, USA

GirlDriver, USA
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Pathfinder SL 2013

Honey, we have to go back.  We forgot the sleeping bags.
You can call it a minivan.  But because it's 4x4 you can also call it an SUV.  Mostly you can call it a hauler.  I don't have kids and I am paring down on "stuff", but I do haul six or seven bags to upstate and then back down to the City––like every week.  It sounds crazy, I know, but I've got the gym bag and work stuff and food and a suitcase.  So I appreciate the availability of access and storage in a vehicle.  Sure, the minivan lacks sex appeal.  And I know women who feel a little bit oppressed by having to drive a minivan because it lacks sex appeal and I totally sympathize with that.  But at the start of the day, in the middle of the day, during that 4 o'clock slump when you have to pick up the kids, get stuff at the grocery store, drop off the dry cleaning, pick up the dry cleaning isn't it rewarding to have a vehicle that is more of an assistant than a paradigm of sensuality?  I know nary a harried woman who would disagree.

The Nissan Pathfinder SL is a well-appointed, 7-passenger seat van with leather seats and a Latch and Glide system that lets you move seats up and back easily.  The seat split in the rear is 60/40.  It's refined interior won it a place on WardsAutoWorld's ten best interiors for 2013.  It also made Kelley Blue Book's Ten Best Family Cars list (

My vehicle cost $37,945 with about $1,000 worth of options and an $825 destination charge.  Gas mileage is 19 city/25 highway/ 21 combined.

The 2014 model year introduces a new  hybrid powertrain system designed to enhance fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions with no reduction of driving performance, passenger roominess or capacity.

The Pathfinder's new Hybrid powertrain option will be available in three fully equipped trim levels – SV, SL and Platinum – when it joins the lineup in late summer 2013. It is expected to be priced at around just $3,000 more than Pathfinder 3.5-liter V6 models.

I didn't get any extra attention in the Pathfinder (as in I wasn't driving a yellow Camaro), but it was comfy and roomy and I enjoyed being in it the whole drive.
2013 Nissan Pathfinder

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mini Cooper Me

The 2013 Mini Cooper Hardtop in red and black.
It's not a one horse open sleigh but, oh what fun this two-door sedan is to drive.  Little Mini Cooper and I went north last week/weekend clipping along a two lane highway that is in great need of repair so it was quickly apparent that this vehicle is not for soft bottoms.  I don't mind it.  I like a sporty suspension.  If you don't, you'll be looking at bigger cars anyway.
The odometer is the center of the world in the Mini.  Note the toggle switches for all operations except the audio system.
I think what is most appealing about the Mini is the way the instrument panel is packaged with the huge odometer in the center stack and the smaller but still prominent tachometer behind the steering wheel.  All the space taken up by these two dials means less space for the sound system and air-conditioning and heating but Mini has packaged those compactly below the odometer.
The interior look is enhanced by the sharp carbon black, checkered cloth upholstery.  Other than that there isn't that much space in which to put appointments.  But, like, the door handle is cool.  Little things like that.  And none of the touch points felt cheap.
Powered by a dual overhead cam 1.6 liter inline four-cylinder engine coupled with a 6-speed manual transmission, this little two-door was fast off the mark and had plenty of power, uphill or on the flat.  I left several bigger cars in the dust and let's face it, it pays to be small and lighter when you want to go, go, go.  Sport-tuned suspension makes it all the more fun.
Seen from the rear, the Mini is a design darling.
Because I've been down on sunroofs for a while now, I made a point of opening the one on the Mini.  It was open all weekend to the gorgeous weather we experienced in the northeast and the spring air was intoxicating.  But I'd still buy a convertible and if I could not have a convertible for any reason, I wouldn't order a sunroof.  The one on this car is $1,000.  For me, an open sunroof creates too much noise in the vehicle and doesn't provide enough benefit.  That, however, is a matter of personal taste.

I was stumped by the audio system.  I could not get the radio to turn to FM.  Shouldn't turning on a radio be a no brainer?  Yes, it should be a snap to figure out and if it's not I think things are overly complicated.  I even read the manual and still couldn't get it to go to FM.  Then I decided to plug in my (OK, ancient) iPod and the Mini USB wouldn't accept my connector.  Like my USB connector wasn't up-to-date enough to be in a Mini? That's discriminatory.

There's not a lot of space in this cutie.  I can't imagine having to sit in the back seat on a three hour trip for example.  I carry a lot of stuff back and forth. I did put the back seats down and crammed my stuff in the car but if you haul at all, you'll find the space in this Mini very tight.  Other Mini models are bigger.
Base cost for my Mini was $19,700 and with delivery and the extras on my model, it cost $25,600.
Gas mileage is excellent--29 city/37 highway/ 32 combined.