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Hi there. I am trying to buy my first "new car", as I've always purchased 4 or 5 year old cars and their problems. This time around, I decided that I "deserve" a new car and test drove the Nissan Pathfinder. Obviously, in the 20 minute test drive, it ran fine. My husband loves it. But the only other SUVs we test drove were the Rav4, Honda CRV, and Murano, which are small in comparison to the Pathfinder.

Anyway, I don't want to continue my trend of buying vehicles that malfunction from the start. After reading reviews, I'm very reluctant to purchase a 2013, but also wonder if I should give the PF a chance. I do find it kind of sketchy that every dealership has drastically dropped their price, sometimes below invoice to try to sell it to me. I have a follow up appointment this week w/ the dealership.

I'm thinking about the Toyota Highlander. I would imagine that some of you may have test drove the Highlander when shopping for your new SUV.

Just looking for your experiences and advice.

Thanks in advance for your honesty!
 

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Well, for a start I would wait for the 2014 version of both. The 2014 version of the Pathfinder should have most of the kinks ironed out, while the 2014 Highlander is a complete new redesign (the last thing you wanna do is buy a new car and then see people driving around in a much improved version a little bit later to make your new car feel old).

I have personally done an order for the 2014 Pathfinder and expect it to arrive mid July, mainly because it is perfect for my family and I'm assured by the dealer that the kinks from 2013 including the infamous judder will be fixed as standard.

As for the new Highlander, it looks like a marked improvement over the 2013 model, but I don't believe they are in show rooms yet to check out in person.
 

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Hi there. I am trying to buy my first "new car", as I've always purchased 4 or 5 year old cars and their problems. This time around, I decided that I "deserve" a new car and test drove the Nissan Pathfinder. Obviously, in the 20 minute test drive, it ran fine. My husband loves it. But the only other SUVs we test drove were the Rav4, Honda CRV, and Murano, which are small in comparison to the Pathfinder.

Anyway, I don't want to continue my trend of buying vehicles that malfunction from the start. After reading reviews, I'm very reluctant to purchase a 2013, but also wonder if I should give the PF a chance. I do find it kind of sketchy that every dealership has drastically dropped their price, sometimes below invoice to try to sell it to me. I have a follow up appointment this week w/ the dealership.

I'm thinking about the Toyota Highlander. I would imagine that some of you may have test drove the Highlander when shopping for your new SUV.

Just looking for your experiences and advice.

Thanks in advance for your honesty!
Elle, I think for the most part Nissan has been very aggressive with their pricing. There are many, if not most people on here that got their PF below invoice, some well below. I bought mine back in March and paid no where near invoice and some on here bought before that an did just as well. I agree, the 2014 will have the kinks worked out. They will be recalling the 2013s sometime within the next month to fix them as well with regards to the studder issue. We are close to 4000 miles on ours and are very happy with it. It doesn't drive like a BMW, but it is a very comfortable, nice alternative to a mini van.
 

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Beyond what was said already, you probably won't get a lot of responses because that is very a broad, open-ended question. There are just so many good vehicles out there, and each person is unique in what they are looking for and in their preferences.

What we know for sure: Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, are the most reliable vehicles in the class, period. But, they come with less options than the north american brands, and are generally less exciting to drive. Because Ford, GM, and Dodge/Chrysler don't have the reliablity, they offer more bells and whistles and much better pricing and finance incentives. So its typically cheaper to buy a Ford or GM taking advantage of purchase incentives, and you get more options.

So where does that leave us with your queston, which one is better, or which is "the best"??? You could argue a good case for many vehicles. Toyota and Honda may be "the best" because you get excellent reliablity, but maybe not, you have to pay a lot of money for that quality, and you get less options, soo.........does that mean a Nissan Pathfinder, or Ford Explorer is the better deal? The Pathfinder in particular has great pricing, if you add in some good purchase incentives on 2013 model clear you you'll be looking at a steal of a deal, with many more nice options and comfort than you'll get in that current Highlander, but the facts are that the Pathfinder and Explorer and Durango aren't quite as reliable and durable as the Toyota, statistically speaking. So which is "the best"???

All the things I've said above are general trends, your individual experience will vary. You may buy a Ford and find it to be the most reliable vehicle ever, or you may purchase the Toyota and get a lemon. Toyota and Honda makes lemons too.

Bottom line, this is a very tough question, and even if you buy brand new there are no guarantees in life, don't get your expectations too high, OFTEN brand new vehicles will give you MORE problems than the 4-5 year old vehicles you've been purchasing, make no mistake about it. The 4 year old vehicle is often more reliable because its had all the bugs worked out and the repairs finally completed, the original ownwer is sick of the new-car repairs and so he dumps it, you pick it up and find its got great reliability.

New cars can be real headaches and many people don't realize this. Goodl uck with your search.
 

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....however, the 2014 Highlander is due out very soon, it looks to be a big improvement over the outgoing model. You will not get any good deals on it, whereas the Pathfinder should have good incentives on top of its already low price. Is the extra say $5000- $8000 worth it for a Toyota over the Nissan? You decide, its your money.
 

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Beyond what was said already, you probably won't get a lot of responses because that is very a broad, open-ended question. There are just so many good vehicles out there, and each person is unique in what they are looking for and in their preferences.

What we know for sure: Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, are the most reliable vehicles in the class, period. But, they come with less options than the north american brands, and are generally less exciting to drive. Because Ford, GM, and Dodge/Chrysler don't have the reliablity, they offer more bells and whistles and much better pricing and finance incentives. So its typically cheaper to buy a Ford or GM taking advantage of purchase incentives, and you get more options.

So where does that leave us with your queston, which one is better, or which is "the best"??? You could argue a good case for many vehicles. Toyota and Honda may be "the best" because you get excellent reliablity, but maybe not, you have to pay a lot of money for that quality, and you get less options, soo.........does that mean a Nissan Pathfinder, or Ford Explorer is the better deal? The Pathfinder in particular has great pricing, if you add in some good purchase incentives on 2013 model clear you you'll be looking at a steal of a deal, with many more nice options and comfort than you'll get in that current Highlander, but the facts are that the Pathfinder and Explorer and Durango aren't quite as reliable and durable as the Toyota, statistically speaking. So which is "the best"???

All the things I've said above are general trends, your individual experience will vary. You may buy a Ford and find it to be the most reliable vehicle ever, or you may purchase the Toyota and get a lemon. Toyota and Honda makes lemons too.

Bottom line, this is a very tough question, and even if you buy brand new there are no guarantees in life, don't get your expectations too high, OFTEN brand new vehicles will give you MORE problems than the 4-5 year old vehicles you've been purchasing, make no mistake about it. The 4 year old vehicle is often more reliable because its had all the bugs worked out and the repairs finally completed, the original ownwer is sick of the new-car repairs and so he dumps it, you pick it up and find its got great reliability.

New cars can be real headaches and many people don't realize this. Goodl uck with your search.
I second this....we have been lucky over our lives with Ford, Toyota, Nissan and Subaru. We have bought vehicles from all of them and were lucky enough never to buy a lemon. There are others that are not so lucky. It only takes buying one lemon to sour you on a company forever.
 

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Honda's quality... particularly in terms of fit and finish, has really gone downhill. I have purchased 5 Hondas since 2002 and they have steadily gone downhill over that time. With that said, I've never had a major drivetrain problem.

Personally, I'd go with the well established 2013 Highlander platform. No more first model year vehicles for me...

The 2014 doesn't really appeal to me - I'd rather not be driving another vehicle as wide and unwieldy as the Pilot. It seems like Toyota is finally going to toe-to-toe with Honda, Ford and GM in terms of size/bulk. One of the appealing things to me about the 2013 (and earlier) Highlander and the 2013 Pathfinder is that it's "right-sized" for my needs.
 

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Yeah good point, it really depends on the individual needs. I didn't like the Highlander because the 3rd row was too small and not very practical, but if you increase the interior roominess like they've done with the 2014 model of course you lose that ease of driving and maneuouverability - everything is a trade-off!!! But what best suits you and your needs!
 

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Yeah, we use the third row once in a blue moon. So as long as it can accommodate 2 kidlets, I'm happy. I do understand, however, that there are many that need to regularly seat six or more. My PF's third row stays down most of the time, with a Weathertech mat on top of it.
 

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Considering the release of the new Highlander and potential issues, 2014 PF would have had issues weeded out by then, just one that is of real concern, juddering, and based on what I saw, the PF has more room inside. I would vote for the PF, however, the choice is yours.
 

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FYI - wanted to chime in here. We just purchased both a 2013 Highlander Limited 4WD (for my wife) and a 2013 Pathfinder Platinum 4WD (for me).

Both great cars - can't go wrong. My initial perception of the PF is that it's definitely a notch more upscale on the interior than the Highlander. The infotainment/navigation system is markedly better than Entune, though at least the toyota has minimal integration with Apps like Pandora & OpenTable.

I personally find the seats more comfortable in the PF. And the PF does have a few more features (cooled seats, heated steering, memory seats, etc.).

I feel like the drivetrain in the Toyota is a bit more refined however... Though perhaps that is me still getting used to the CVT.

Looks are subjective of course, but I think they're reasonably on par with one another. Both decent looking, but not great looking SUVs.

IN terms of space - very strange, but I feel like the highlander has more space in the 2nd row. Not sure why, haven't measured, just feels that way with our car seats. 3rd row notch definitely goes to PF. Also like how highlander has the configurable captains chairs in the 2nd row.

Also prefer the wheels on the highlander to that on the pathfinder (just more simple and elegant 5 spoke design on the limited).

All in all - we're happy with both of them. Probably best to wait until the 2014 models to see the new highlander in the flesh before deciding if you have that option. However, if you get one of them now, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

FYI - Discounts on leasing were incredible on the Toyota. Ended up leasing the limited 4wd for 3yrs/36k for only $435/mo (incl 9% pa tax!) with only $1k out of pocket at signing. My PF deal was also very good, but was $485 for 3yr/45k, same out of pocket.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for all of the input!! I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences.
 

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Interior on the highlander still looks old IMO. Things like it's steering wheel, instrument cluster and top bezels of the screens and pieces surrounding them don't help at all....

 

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The Highlander redesign isn't earth shattering or revolutionary in any way, it's just another small increment in the evolution. It won't get your blood pumping, there's no new hot turbo 4-cylinder, no cylinder deactivation or direct gasoline injection technology like many competitors, no 8-speed transmission or CVT like most competitors are moving towards, just a basic 6-speed. Many people would call this "playing it safe" and discount the next-gen Highlander.

But this is also what makes Toyota great, they stick to the proven technology to ensure rock solid reliability number one. And since they've had such successful models recently, they don't need to fix what isn't broken.

So the '14 Highlander won't be exciting in terms of performance or technology, it will be basic but rock solid. Whether that is something that interests you or not is a matter of personal opinion. If the Pathfinder solves some of its driveline problems for the '14 model year it will be a very tight competition between it and the Highlander, and probably both will be a good purchase.

With almost all purchases there are several relatively equal options, but it comes down to who will give you best deal on a given day when you're ready to make your purchase. As is traditionally the case, Nissan will be offering the better incentives and more room to negotiate below MSRP, and the Pathfinder already has the lowest MSRP of any competitors. It will be interesting to see how the Highlander is priced, and how they package the options. If they go the traditional route, they'll have a very affordable base model with pretty much no options, no dealership will even stock these on the lot, and the mid to upper trim levels will get expensive in a hurry, with moderate options included but nothing extra. If you want extra bells and whistles go for the Hyundai Santa Fe XL 7-seater, or any large GM crossovers.
 

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Interior on the highlander still looks old IMO. Things like it's steering wheel, instrument cluster and top bezels of the screens and pieces surrounding them don't help at all....

I last sat in one back in 2010. It was nice, though definitely less soft touch surfaces than the current PF. I did like the big, fat knobs for the HVAC and Infotainment systems... wish the PF's were more like that. I often have a hard time hitting the button I want when I'm trying to watch the road.
 
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