Nissan puts a beard on a soft-roader, the chip shortage rages on, GM recalls some tonneau covers. All this and more on today’s edition of The Morning Dump.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If you’re morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
Up Rock Creek Without A Skid Plate
People really seem to be craving lumberjacked-up crossovers on all-terrain tires, so Nissan is giving folks what they want with the 2023 Pathfinder Rock Creek.
How do you add off-road pretensions to a standard crossover SUV? Start by making it uglier, of course. The Pathfinder Rock Creek gets a slab of unpainted plastic across the front bumper that’s sure to age poorly in sunny climates despite being a boon for anyone who parks by feel. Above this plastic pouty face sits a black grille with three silver slots across the upper edge and mesh replacing slats. While the mesh is a rather nice addition, I could do without the silver – it’s a bit tacky. Not that you asked me.
Nothing says rugged like a tubular roof rack, so the Rock Creek wears a futon frame on its roof. Don’t worry about this piece of jungle gym equipment blocking the view through the sunroof because there’s no window to the skies in the Rock Creek. Hey, costs have to be cut somewhere. Rounding out the exterior appearance is a set of orange badges, a 5/8-inch (16 mm) lift, LED fog lamps, and a set of 265/60R18 Toyo Open Country A/T all-terrain tires wrapped around a set of faux-beadlock alloy wheels that would’ve been a hit at SEMA in 2008.
On the inside captains’ chairs take the place of the second-row bench, while natty black pleather-and-cloth upholstery with orange stitching adds an appropriate amount of pop for a mid-range model. You’ll never forget it’s a Rock Creek model either, as the Rock Creek logo is embroidered in huge orange stitching on the seats and center console lid.
While a hilariously minuscule boost in ride height and a chunky set of all-terrain tires will likely be enough for most fire trail camping enthusiasts, the Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition is absolutely not an off-road vehicle. It doesn’t gain additional skid plates or recovery points, nor does it feature limited-slip front or rear differentials. It really just offers the appearance of an SUV without any added capability. The only real performance addition is a premium fuel map in the ECU that bumps output to 295 horsepower and 284 lb-ft of torque when running hi-test. So it’s an odd sell; the regular Pathfinder is actually quite handsome and should be able to go everywhere the Rock Creek can go.
Anyone actually looking at a crossover to do occasional off-road duty will want something much more capable than the Pathfinder Rock Creek. However, if you just want to look like the toughest dad in the Arby’s drive-thru, the Rock Creek should do just fine.
All Dip, No Chips
It’s 2022 and everyone from car shoppers to finance bros are anxiously awaiting news of the chip shortage tapering off. Bad news, I’m afraid. According to Automotive News, it looks like semiconductor scarcity may continue for longer than expected.
Arno Antlitz, Volkswagen’s CFO, spoke with Boersen-Zeitung about the chip shortage, and his predictions aren’t rosy. On the plus side, Antlitz expects supply issues to ease somewhat toward the end of this year. On the minus side, easing does not imply capacity to meet full demand. Despite chipmaker Infineon expecting core chip production to be back to normal in 2023, Antlitz isn’t expecting all chip suppliers to support full demand until 2024. “The situation should improve in 2023, but the structural problem will not yet have been fully resolved,” said Antlitz in the aforementioned Automotive News story.
While just one prediction could be easily brushed off as speculation, two similar predictions from different industry experts add credibility to a concept. Oliver Zipse, BMW Group’s CEO, is saying roughly the same thing as Antlitz. In a recent interview with German newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung, Zipse said, “I expect us to start seeing improvements at the latest next year, but we will still have to deal with a fundamental shortage in 2023.”
That’s not exactly reassuring news. If you’re thinking of buying a new car but want to wait for a deal, you might be waiting for some time yet.
A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touchscreen
Mind you, waiting to buy a new car isn’t all bad news. Toyota’s new infotainment system is so much better than its old one that Toyota’s fast-tracking implementation across its lineup. No fewer than 20 nameplates across the Toyota and Lexus range, including the recently-debuted Corolla Cross, are expected to get this new infotainment system this year. That’s right, a major electronics revision in a product’s second model year on the market.
Zack Hicks, Toyota Motor North America’s chief digital officer, elaborated on this massive undertaking in a media round-table last week. “Normally that would have taken us five to eight years to get this out, based on the remodel cycle,” said Hicks.
Honestly, it feels about time that Toyota implemented rolling tech upgrades. Mazda, Stellantis, Ford and Volkswagen haven’t been afraid to offer tech refreshes before major model refreshes, much to the delight of consumers who want the newest tech experience as soon as possible.
Perhaps more importantly, every single Toyota and Lexus vehicle is expected to get the new-generation infotainment system within the next three years. Could the Lexus LC 500 become absolutely perfect in every single way come 2025? Here’s to hoping.
Ejecto Tonneau, Cuz
Most truck accessory designs should be pretty simple, right? Side steps that people can step on, mud flaps that prevent rocks from launching into the windscreens of following cars, a good tonneau cover that doesn’t fly off while you’re driving. It seems that someone must have missed that last point because certain GM half-ton trucks have been recalled for randomly-detaching flying tonneau covers.
Funnily enough, this isn’t even GM’s first recall for flying tonneau covers. They actually managed to miss a few units of this particular model of tonneau cover the first time around. Both hard and soft varieties of the Truck Hero tri-fold tonneau cover sold through GM Accessories may come loose while underway, fly off in spectacular fashion and leave a trail of destruction wherever they may go.
Only 1,236 2019-2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500s and GMC Sierra 1500s are reportedly affected, so your chances of experiencing some real Final Destination shit are fairly slim. Still, giving half-ton GM trucks with tri-fold tonneau covers a wide berth isn’t a bad idea for now. Owner notification letters won’t be mailed out until May 16, with fixes expected to be available shortly thereafter.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on this edition of The Morning Dump. It’s Monday morning once again and we’d love to hear what wrenching you got up to on the weekend. Whether performing a quick and dirty pad slap or seam-welding a chassis, every minute in the garage counts. As the front pads on my friend’s XC90 were getting thin, we threw on a fresh set of Akebono pads and Zimmermann discs. Low noise, low dust, decent bite for daily driving. Exactly the sort of braking characteristics people want in a family hauler.
The concept of a soft-roader named after the only entirely urban / suburban National Park, one with no part further than 1 mile from quality pavement, is surprisingly subversive.
I mean…at least this Rock Creek is better than the last generation Pathfinder Rock Creek because roof rack. Right?
The newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung is not a German newspaper, but a Swiss one. It’s one of the oldest and largest newspapers here and it is located in the capital of Switzerland, Zurich or Zürich, (how we spell it), hence the name Zürcher Zeitung.
My weekend was spent with views of the bottom of my steering wheel, as I found out the fun way that 2nd gen 4runners like to develop cracked clutch brackets sometimes. Everything is welded /bolted back together now and the clutch pedal feels normal again. At least my transmission is screwed as I initially thought.
Only wrenching I did this weekend was deal with an overheating 22re on the side of the road. Somehow my battery connection decided to give up at the same time. I kept trying to think of how overheating would cause it not to turn over…
Hopefully-constructive feedback: I kinda feel like the Pathfinder segment read like a bit of a hit piece. Not that a Pathfinder Wilderness Edition is anything I’m remotely interested in experiencing (let alone owning) but it almost felt like you were trying to outdo yourself with the scorn and to be honest I stopped reading about 2/3 of the way through. Your writing is fun and witty, but I (speaking only for myself here) would have had a better time with an article that tried to engage with the Pathfinder RAV4 Adventure more on its own terms and in the context of today’s industry, rather than just relentless snark.
I’d like to know what your actual personal take is on the soft-roader trend where random crossovers get a small lift, a rugged name, and an extra helping of black plastic, and are sold for a couple grand extra. They must cost very little extra to manufacture, and people seem happy to buy them. As a manufacturer, why *wouldn’t* you get in on this?
Arbys still exists?
When I need an extra 5/8″, I just get out my air pump.
I thought briefly the headline meant a 5-inch front, 8-inch rear lift and was prepared for a Pathfinder that looked like one of those railroad trucks.
The Flush: got to install a set of 4 radius arm mounting guards to protect a rather low part of the chassis. Did it in a buddys house and all went pretty good. Ready to take it offroad and not worry too much for the rocks. Al ready had scraped one support, but it was pretty easy to hammer it back straight and paint it with anti corrosion paint! Looking to install some transfer protection plates in the near future.
/edit, On my 2022 Suzuki Jimny! Greetings from Mexico.
The weather was beautiful on Sunday. I taught my 13 yo son to do a front brake job on my wife’s Fiat 500. He helped with the left and then did the right himself except where he couldn’t loosen some bolts. I also torque-checked everything, but he did a good job. I’m pretty proud of him.
I also managed to find time to clean out the garage, put away tools left out from various projects, and terrorized my neighborhood by driving my club’s TROG car around the block a few times.
Not this weekend but the past month I had to replace the passenger door locking mechanism on my ’16 Mazda 6. That cascaded into replacing the Cabin air filter, Engine air filter and upgrading to LED Bulbs.
That last particular upgrade fixed once of the only problems I had with this car. Pardon the pun but the difference was literally night/day. Best $35 I ever spent. If you’re on the fence on LEDs, I wholeheartedly recommend them.
I hope to find the poor ground on my 1976 MGB that is preventing the driver’s side turn signal and side marker light from working. Actually, it might be a good thing to clean up all the grounding points.
I spent an unreasonable amount of time fixing a previous screwup when I polished my cloudy headlights. The first time I tried it everything went pretty well and they were nice and clear. Then I went to clearcoat them so they would stay that way. Apparently it was too cool or humid for the spray clearcoat and it almost immediately clouded up, leaving my headlights basically as bad as they were when I started.
It took hours of sanding to remove all (well, most) of the bad clear and polish them back up. This time I just used a UV-resistant spray wax so there was no chance of a repeat, at the cost of needing to reapply from time to time.
I have had great luck with the headlight restoration kit from Meguiar’s. Comes two hand buff discs with different grits for wet sanding off the cloudiness, their Plastic-X compound and a microfiber drill attachment to polish out the scratches, and some sealant. It does a great job, however the sealant has a lot to be desired. I can’t be bothered to re-apply it regularly so I end up re-doing them once a year (only takes about 5 minutes per headlight so no biggie).
I found a completely foolproof method for restoring the cloudy headlights on my old Corolla daily driver.
1. Remove headlights.
2. Open RockAuto box containing new headlights ($37/ea including new bulbs) and install them.
3. Throw away old cloudy headligths.
Can’t say for sure it would be as cost-effective for every car, but it’s worth checking out for most older cars, I would guess.
About halfway through the process I seriously considered going with the RockAuto approach. I’m pretty sure the amount of time I spent more than offset the cost of new headlight housings.
That said, this is my “green” car so I try to avoid generating unnecessary waste with it. I also made the dubious decision to repair a damaged fender liner with a 3d printed patch (which so far has worked perfectly). I’ve replaced some things that needed replacing, but I’ve tried to prefer repair over replace whenever possible.
I used the 3M kit, but it’s a similar concept. The problem I ran into was that the clearcoat I applied is much harder than the plastic so I just burned through the sanding discs from the kit. I ended up having to get my palm sander with some 320 grit to take it all off, and even then I went through several sheets before I was convinced I had gotten all the way through it.
I used the Turtle Wax ICE spray wax on the other headlight last fall and so far it’s held up well. It claims to be UV resistant and it’s stupid easy to apply so I don’t mind if I have to redo it once a year or whenever I have the spray wax out for something else.
If you basically don’t give a shit about your car’s paint, you can do what I do to my ’03 Outback and just touch up the headlights from time to time using a rag with bug spray on it, followed by a dry rag to polish and clean. It does work, as long as they’re only a little cloudy. Spray on the rag not the car, and try to keep it off the paint.
Yeah, Torch did an article about that on Jalopnik a while back. I think he had trouble with a haze on one of his lights afterward so I figured I would do it “right”, which didn’t work out so well for me. 🙂
Quick question: Why is the new go-to color for off-road best described as baby poo-esque? I guess they’re going for desert camo but all I see is diaper.
Bring back some nice forest greens like Jeep kept doing in the ’90s.
Agreed, saw 2 new Wranglers in a row this weekend. One was bright yellow, the other lime green. Every other car on the road was a shade- not a color. I want more wild colors on more cars. I’ve had enough of choosing shades of white or black as the only color option.
The problem is that for most cars, if you want any other color than black white or gray, it’s going to cost you extra, sometimes only 500 more, but often more than that. Plus the seller will tell you that it’s going to be easier to sell the car later, and it’s going to be worth more, if it’s one of these 3 base colors. Which might be true, I have seen statistics that seem to confirm that.
So most people end up getting a black or white car, even if it’s not what they wanted.
I was really going for the toughest SUV look at Arby’s. This weekend put 4-Runner SR5 17in rims and Yokohama A/Ts on my Stock GX460 in place of the 18s. Now Nissan has to go and ruin it for me with this.
Maybe Autopian could make a weekly award for toughest SUV at Arby’s. To be eligible you must submit a photo of your softroader in front of Arby’s.
Only if Arby’s pays up, Dave and Torch have a business to run here. Cash or free-meal coupons will do (assuming their store saturation rate around Detroit and Chapel Hill hasn’t shrunk as alarmingly as they have in the northeast).
Would also accept entries from Jimmy John’s and Rusty Taco…. Agreed Torch needs to reach out to Inspire Brands and make it happen. This is a business, not a charity.
What about Rax? There’ s still a few in the midwest
There’s an Arby’s about a mile east of the Walmart where Dave meets for the Woodward cruises. He can hold the competitions there (they need the business).
The Flush – My Weekend Wrenching.
Last year, I sold my year 2020 Wrangler because used car prices were so crazy (and profitable). As a result I am reliving the joy and freedom of owning a beater car. I bought a dirt cheap Infiniti G35x and because it was a rarely needed second car, I let my 5 year old make all the decisions on modifications. As you can imagine it now looks like it was designed by a 5 year old. Roof basket – check; Land Rover Front Bumper – check; Jeep wheels/tires that are way too big – check. Too many offroad lights – check. 90% of the fun at 2% of the cost. This beater POS has truly brought joy to my weekend and a smile to my face. My son still misses the Jeep, but he thinks building a car is so much cooler.
I sat in a 2016 pathfinder a few years back. It was massive but also very soft. The Hardbody based and R51 Pathfinders were decent little 4×4’s.
I don’t know if we just got unlucky, but our 2016 SL has been absolute garbage. Pretty much anything that could have broken has done so and it’s put me off ever looking at a Nissan again. It’s a spacious ride for family trips and has made hauling gear out to the climbing crag very convenient, but in terms of performance as an actual vehicle it’s been a lemon in every sense of the word.
We have a 2015 SL and we are over 200,000 km at this point. Nothing has really gone wrong. It still cruises quietly and the CVT has worked correctly. Little bit of a rattle in the passenger door and a wheel bearing needed replacing, but nothing major.
I must not remember 16 Candles properly cause I don’t get the reference. Did Toyota start eating carrots?
Nobody gets the references around here…
Even I’m struggling with this one. Explain yourself, Thomas…
I was looking for a Long Duk Dong reference, but there didn’t seem to be a payoff to the movie anywhere.
A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me is the third single off of Fall Out Boy’s 2005 album From Under The Cork Tree.
OHHHH! Of course. I was frantically flipping through the sizeable John Hughes trivia file in my mind and coming up dry.
The Bob Rock reference was great. Black Album was when they went commercial……
Death Magnetic and …Hardwired To Self-Destruct are a step back in teh right direction.
I hate that I knew this.
Yeah. I read that part four times to figure out what I was missing. I still don’t get it.
I knew the Pathfinder had softened, but I wasn’t aware it couldn’t even be optioned with a limited slip in the rear any more.
From Dakar champion to offroad cosplay in 4ish generations. Ouch.
Anyone else find it sadly pathetic that a certain other site is reposting old Torch articles?
Plus articles from contributors that haven’t been there for years, like Doug DeMuro.
Especially 7 year old slideshows…sad…very sad
I’ve gotten in the habit of checking the comment count there first to see if its old. Seems like they averaging about 3-4 old articles a day! It’s getting unbearable, but things here on the Autopian are wonderful!
I find myself going over to Jello Picnic a few times a week to watch the state of things decline. On the web analytics side, the site has lost 2M visitors a month between December and the end of February. There isn’t enough history yet to look at April.
They have now started making the blurb be “this article was published ages ago when we used to be good” or to that effect now so it’s more obvious.
And a DT one just a while ago.
Have some dignity fergodsakes.
A certain editor of that site once went on a tirade in the comment section that most of the readership was based on search results for car reviews. If that’s the mindset of the current ownership, then other content becomes effectively interchangeable window dressing.
They are using this approach across the G/O family. Contributors that have gone on to bigger and better things live on as their best work gets pumped as suggested reading based on historical engagement. The parent company, Great Hills Partners, seems entirely indifferent to the whole undertaking, and the likeliest outcome is structured bankruptcy and a fire sale.
Then the a utopian could buy J——k and we could come full circle.