Base price: $28,650
Nissan redesigned the seven-passenger Pathfinder radically for 2013, changing it from a rugged sport utility vehicle with good off-road capabilities into a more refined model that emphasizes comfort over toughness.
To begin with, the Japanese automaker switched the Pathfinder from a truck chassis to a car-based platform -- allowing for smoother driving, 500 pounds less weight and better fuel efficiency.Nissan also boosted the fourth-generation Pathfinder's mpg by adding front-wheel drive, a continuously variable transmission and an improved 260-horsepower V-6 engine as standard equipment. All told, the 2013 2WD model gets an estimated 22 mpg combined city/highway mileage -- 30% better than the 2012. The improved efficiency comes despite the fact that the new Pathfinder has 8.4 cubic feet more interior space than its 2012 predecessor. Nissan also added convenient "EZ Flex" seating -- second-row seats that slide 5.5 inches forward to make accessing the model's third row easier. Additionally, the second- and third-row seats fold flat for added cargo capacity. "The Pathfinder's exterior redesign is very handsome, and its new interior is much better in terms of usability," Nerad says.