Monday, April 29, 2013

Two SUV’s, Two Very Different Designs: The New 4Runner and Pathfinder




Sometimes I give Toyota crap for having no soul, making immensely popular cars that get about as exciting as tying my shoes in a double knot. Conversely, as a Nissan enthusiast I typically find their designs refreshing and performance engaging. With the domestic market heating up, these two auto giants from the land of the rising sun are going to be doing battle for market share in a very vital segment, the flagship SUV. But their tactics this time around couldn't be more different, and when the smoke clears, it will be interesting to see what resonates with consumers. 

This weekend, Toyota unveiled the new 4Runner at the Stagecoach Music Festival, and it’s a stunner.  Fat tires, a cowl for the SR5, gunmetal rims, running boards, gorgeous headlights, and a front end that’s aggressive as hell. The 4Runner is something of an SUV icon; it’s been around forever, and has legendary reliability and durability. In fact, if the apocalypse were to happen tomorrow, this might just be the car I would choose. But that's a story for another day. With off road chops and an aggressive demeanor, this new truck doesn’t hide its Hilux roots, and looks like it’s ready for a foreign paramilitary group to throw a .50 cal on the roof and call it a day. 

The brand-spanking new 2014 Toyota 4Runner announced this weekend

I applaud Toyota for the eight-page press release and innovative product announcement at a mainstream country music festival in LA.It is also great to see that they didn't follow in the footsteps of many other automakers, and make their SUV a uni-body grocery-getter in the interest of driving sales. It started with the Ford Explorer, and many other automakers have followed suit in pursuit of marketshare. 

Looks like Toyota is starting to get its soul back.

Which brings me to next point. Nissan, what did you do to the Pathfinder? I used to make it a habit to rent Pathfinders when I went on business. highly capable, and the Armada version has crazy cargo room. The style was boxy and mean, and like most Nissans, a face only a mother could love. 
 
The new Pathfinder

But I hope this is a good move, and we should all wish Nissan the best of luck in gaining traction in a highly competitive market. From a business prospective  its easy to understand why. First, the core consumer for these SUV's doesn't go off road, and this is a much more approachable design. Secondly, the redesign allows it to share sheet metal with the Inifiti JX, where the J stands for "Jacked up minivan".