Nissan’s wanderlust Pathfinder, Aston’s F1 pace car is “too slow,” dim AI runs from the law
“Off-road” edition confirms 2023 Pathfinder trades on looks, not brawn
Intake: One year on from the unveiling of the all-new fifth-generation Nissan Pathfinder, the marque has unveiled the 2023 Pathfinder Rock Creek, a mild upgrade to the unibody SUV. Spec the Rock Creek and you’ll get an off-road–tuned suspension with a 5/8-inch lift, 18-inch all-terrain tires mounted on “beadlock-style” (read: not actual beadlock) wheels, a tubular roof rack capable of carrying 220 pounds of gear, an exclusive front fascia, special seats, orange contrast stitching in the interior, and an off-road mode for Nissan’s Intelligent Around View camera monitoring system. The Pathfinder’s transversely mounted 3.5-liter aluminum V-6 also gets a bump in power (295 hp vs. 284) and torque (270 lb-ft versus 259) in Rock Creek spec when you use premium fuel, thanks to revised fuel mapping. The new trim will go on sale late this summer.
Exhaust: Credit Nissan’s product planners for realizing that adventure sells right now. Still, our test of a 2WD 2022 Pathfinder confirmed that Nissan’s “return to rugged” messaging was a bit far-fetched—and for a nameplate that, unlike Subaru’s Outback or Ford’s Explorer, was once legitimate trail conquerer, this half-hearted upgrade stings. The Pathfinder has long waffled between body-on-frame (first and third gen) trucklet and unibody crossover (second, fourth, and fifth generations). We’re hard-pressed to say that the 2023 model, whose all-wheel-drive system defaults to FWD in most circumstances, is truly “rugged.” The Rock Creek may be the Pathfinder’s strongest argument since 2012, but it doesn’t inspire us to stray too far from the beaten path.
Glimpse Lincoln’s electric future on 4/20
Intake: As part of Ford’s commitment to electrification, Lincoln offered a teaser video of a forthcoming concept vehicle reported to sport a fully electric propulsion system. This yet-to-be-named vehicle sports backlit Lincoln emblems both on the front and sides but is only an “inspiration for the brand’s fully electric vehicles coming in the near future.”
Exhaust: While teaser videos are purposefully short on details, the unnamed Lincoln concept appears to have an SUV’s roofline, which is logical considering the brand’s current portfolio. Ford recently hired Anthony Lo as chief design officer, and this concept is proof positive that he’s indeed committed to shaking things up with more concept vehicles that highlight Ford’s electric future.
Aston Martin’s F1 safety car is too slow, says Max Verstappen
Intake: The Australian Grand Prix will be one to forget for Aston Martin. After lead driver Sebastian Vettel crashed, the British brand’s flagship Vantage safety car was deployed and subsequently described as a “turtle” by 2021 World Champion Max Verstappen. “There’s so little grip and also the safety car was driving so slow, it was like a turtle. Unbelievable,” Verstappen said. In a further blow, the Dutch driver claimed that the Mercedes-AMG safety car, which is used at around half the events on the F1 calendar, is significantly quicker. “For sure the Mercedes safety car is faster because of the extra aero, because this Aston Martin is really slow. It definitely needs more grip, because our tires were stone-cold.”
Exhaust: It gets worse. Mercedes-AMG driver George Russell, who finished third in the race and Charles Leclerc, who won in his Ferrari, also chipped in. “We don’t have the issue with the Mercedes-AMG safety car,” said Russell. “On a serious note, the Mercedes-AMG is like five seconds quicker than the Aston Martin safety car, which is pretty substantial.” Leclerc then added that F1 should get a Ferrari safety car instead as it would be another “five seconds quicker.”
This 1931 Bugatti is a Grand Prix car in a tailored suit
Intake: Race cars don’t often get second chances at life, but this week on Jay Leno’s Garage appears one such reborn workhorse. This Bugatti Type 51 was originally a racing car, which was purchased upon retirement and draped with a body commissioned by Carrozzeria Louis Dubos of France. The final result looks like a scaled-down Atlantic. The car is powered by a 2.3-liter straight-eight fed by a side-mounted supercharger. When combined with a very robust transmission and big mechanical brakes, that mill could push a Type 51 handily through whatever race the owner entered. Add on a curvaceous body, and you have a timeless package.
Exhaust: Bugatti is a brand that has always wielded high-end cachet and this particular Type 51 is a great example of just how exclusive these cars can get. This is a one-off body built by Dubos, and the chassis was raced by Louis Chiron, the man whose name graces the late-model hypercar still rolling out of the Molsheim factory. Even a car like this was once one step from becoming scrap metal, though, and it the Nethercutt collection to save it way back when and restore it to the beauty you see today.
Watch a “self-driving” car run away from the cops
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Intake: An autonomous Chevy Bolt taxi operated by Cruise got pulled over by San Francisco police for driving at night without its lights on. As a bemused cop walks up to have a word with the driver, he discovers there’s nobody behind the wheel. Then the Bolt, er, bolts and the police give chase for a few yards before the Chevy stops again. The police appear to try to get into the locked vehicle as a crowd gathers in disbelief and hilarity as the officers have no idea what to do next.
Exhaust: Maybe robocars only respect RoboCops, and our dystopian future is closer than ever.