We put a couple of quasi-luxury SUVs against each other We decided to put the all-new 2013 Nissan Pathfinder up against another "premium-but-not-quite-luxury" SUV that we have come to love, the 2013 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Execline, and see how these strangely similar yet so vastly different trucks compare.
I recently visited my parents in Mississauga, ON. Ever since I moved away from the family homestead and right into the heart of downtown Toronto, I’ve become accustomed to seeing either high-end sedans, premium sports cars, or compacts. There isn’t a single minivan in my condominium parking garage, and only one SUV, a new Range Rover Sport. Therefore, it’s always a bit of a culture shock when I venture out of the city and see that since I left, everyone on the block seems to have a luxury or premium sport-utility vehicle. We decided to put the all-new 2013 Nissan Pathfinder up against another “premium-but-not-quite-luxury” SUV that we have come to love, the 2013 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Execline, and see how these strangely similar yet so vastly different trucks compare.
Firstly, I need to eliminate the elephant in the room. The 2013 Pathfinder may very well be a great vehicle for the masses, but it just isn’t cool anymore. Pathfinders used to be about being hardcore and able to venture off-road. Our tester had the option of turning all four wheels at the same time, but again, it’s an option. It’s ridiculously cushy, comfortable, and a wonderful choice for soccer moms/dads. With a modest as-tested price of just over $42,000, our Pathfinder Platinum came generously equipped. For your money, you get 13 Bose speakers, DVD capability with two screens integrated into the headrests, and Infiniti’s Around View technology. Very cool.
The Volkswagen Touareg TDI has been a favourite of mine even though many scoff at the thought of paying north of $60,000 for a Volkswagen. My Execline tester came as loaded as you can get one, priced at just over $60,000. Its hidden secret is that in combined driving, the turbodiesel engine nets 8.5L/100km. That’s pretty awesome considering the best we could muster from the Nissan is 12.5L/100km on premium fuel with a light foot. The Touareg has twenty horsepower less than the Pathfinder (240 versus 260), but its 407 lb-ft of torque gets it going pretty quickly. In both vehicles you can truly feel the fact that you’re essentially moving a building along with your right foot.
Volkswagen and Audi are worshipped in the automotive community for their interiors. I can’t help but feel that they’ve been trumped by multiple manufacturers lately. The interior in the Pathfinder definitely one-ups the Touareg. Everything’s exactly where you’d expect it to be, and Nissan has done a spectacular job of organization given the amount of technology and features packed into the thing. The seats of the Pathfinder are comfortable enough for long hauls, and the user-friendliness of the navigation/multimedia system is straightforward. The Touareg’s multimedia system is a bit laggy and unintuitive. Plus, Volkswagen forces you to use a proprietary VW-branded iPod/iPhone cable in order to play your own music or charge your phone. Time to subtract points for that.
The Touareg TDI certainly wins on driving position though. Everything is bang-on; finding a comfortable seating position took seconds; the steering wheel tilts/telescopes to the perfect angle, and the coffee-brown leather makes you feel like royalty even though you’re in “just a Volkswagen”. There are very few SUVs I like, and none of them are car-like to drive. For instance, I absolutely adore the big Range Rover. Unlike others, the Touareg doesn’t try to hide its weight or try to pass itself off as a sports car. It’s a bit of a porker and the big boy seems to be proud of it.
While the Pathfinder may be zero fun to drive, it scores a 10/10 in my books as a family SUV. It has a fairly usable (for kids or pre-teens) third row of seats, and unlike other three-row vehicles, it’s actually incredibly easy to get in and out of. Sharing essentially everything with the Infiniti JX35, the Pathfinder is everything the Toyota Highlander aspires to be. Value-wise, it’s completely unbeatable. I’ll be the first to admit that when I first saw how low the sticker price was on the tester, I was legitimately befuddled and thought it was a clerical error.
The Volkswagen Touareg TDI is a pretty awesome SUV. In fact, it’s on my list of the only 5 SUVs I would consider if I were ever to be forced to buy one for a significant other. After all, I’m a sucker for sports sedans. At $63,000 for the Execline though, it’s far too expensive. Especially since the Porsche Cayenne Diesel can be had for $65,000. If an extensive equipment list is what you’re after, the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum is literally unbeatable for the dollar. It can transport half the Girl Guide troop while playing the latest season of Gossip Girl, or it can haul a few of your comrades as you pop in the last season of Entourage. The Pathfinder is enough of a chameleon to fit well into any situation you throw at it. Oh, and I’m sure if you really want to go off-roading, it can handle a mild trail or two.
2013 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum vs. 2013 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Gallery