We wanted it all. It had to be visually smart, yield excellent fuel economy, and have rugged off-road capability and lots of prowess, luxury, and comfort. Taking delivery of a 2009 Nissan Pathfinder for a much-anticipated seven-day road trip to Utah, we got exactly what we had requested. Powering this luxurious off-roader was a fuel-injected V-6 that delivers 266 horses and 288 pound-feet of torque, plenty sufficient for effortless driving and towing all kinds of toys as well as camping and utility trailers.

On our 1700-mile journey, the Pathfinder logged a respectable 23.5-mpg fuel economy out on the open road. Coupled to a five-speed transmission with shift-on-the-fly 4WD, climbing and winding up the primitive mountain trail to 10,250 feet above sea level proved as effortless for the Nissan as it was transparent to the four adults who were awed by the beauty outside while being immersed and surrounded by comfort and luxury inside.

The old mining town of Sunnyside sits at the base of the Book Cliff Mountains, and even though it's only about 25 miles from here to the top of the Tavaputs Plateau and the Tavaputs Guest Ranch and Lodge, it takes at least two hours to get there. The delight of moving from the desert at the base of the Book Cliffs, up and into pine-covered forests, and then through thickets of aspen on the top is easily enough drama to satisfy the needs of most sightseers. However, waiting for us at the end of the trail was the Tavaputs Guest Ranch and three days and nights of mountaintop living that would be a super natural experience.