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Auto blogTue, 11 Mar 2014 19:58:00 EST
When we think of comfy, long-distance road cars, there are a few obvious choices. A Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Bentley Continental GT or, assuming fuel efficiency isn't paramount, a Range Rover are all good options for a road trip. But what if that road trip was 37,000 miles? Maybe something more reliable but still comfortable, then, like a Honda Accord. What about a 1967 Datsun Roadster?
As insane as it sounds, Scott Fisher is doing just that, running a Datsun 1600 Roadster across North America and racking up 13,500 miles in his first three months on the road. His total journey will see him pile over 37,000 miles on his red convertible. The car is lightly modified, but most of the work is for the sake of reliability and comfort, with a five-speed manual 'box, an upgraded radiator and electronic ignition.
Fisher's trip hasn't been all smooth, with a few typical bits of trouble. He also ran into some deer in Utah, quite literally, clipping one of the animals, which delivered quite a bit of damage to the passenger's front fender (hence the rear three-quarter view in our lead shot). Still, the car seems to be holding up well, as shown in this latest video from Petrolicious.
Despite our tendency as enthusiasts to clamor for things like wagons and hot hatchbacks, it's hard to argue with the buying public's increasing demand for functional crossovers. In fact, the great SUV craze of the late-1990s has all but faded in favor of the easier-driving, better-packaged, more-efficient crossover. That's even true at the larger end of the market - just look at what happened when Ford redesigned its body-on-frame Explorer into a stylish and well-equipped CUV. And now look at the similar success Nissan has had in repurposing its rugged Pathfinder sport-ute as an appealing crossover.
But happily, we report the following line: out of every long-term vehicle Autoblog has ever tested, not a single one has been as in-demand as the 2013 Pathfinder Platinum you see here. After 13 months of solid use, we added 24,372 miles to the Pfinder's odometer - and that's without the vehicle ever leaving the hands of our Detroit-based team (sorry, West Coasters).
There's good reason for that high-demand usage, too. After spending a little over a year with our Mocha Stone tester (a color that earned this Nissan the nickname "Sweet Brown") we came to appreciate its vast versatility, comfort, all-weather prowess, and the way it absolutely ate up the miles on long trips. We drove it all over the United States, in all four seasons, filling it with our families, friends, and occasionally using its capacious cabin for sleeping on the road. Through good and bad, the Pathfinder was a trusty friend. But like any good friendship, that wasn't without a couple of fights.
We could be in for a big push from Nissan in the manufacturing realm if Vice President of US Sales and Marketing Fred Diaz has anything to say about it. Speaking to the Automotive Press Association recently, Diaz (above) expressed a desire to build some 85 percent of the vehicles Nissan sells to Americans in the US, claiming it will happen "in the very near future." Nissan has already moved to increase exports of its US-built products, and in 2013, it built just over 76 percent of the models it sold in this market within our country's borders.
"Any issues of us taking advantage of the value of the yen, we want to dispel that," Diaz told reporters, pointing out the contentious issue of currency manipulation. There's also the obvious goal of positive PR - Americans like things made in America, and they like companies that invest in America. Diaz is quick to point out that Nissan had done just that: "While a lot of people retrenched [during the recession], instead we leaned into it and we continued investing and in fact made over $5 billion in investments, bringing a lot of production from Japan to the United States and to Mexico," Diaz said, pointing out that Nissan has helped create 8,000 jobs through its investments.
Nissan runs three factories in the US, two in Tennessee and one in Mississippi. Between the three, production is up 22 percent, while the overall exports from the facilities have increased by 100,000 units, Diaz told reporters.