So the Pathfinder is showing signs of more than just the body rust in the rear fenders that I had initially had my eye on. The front strut mount is developing a little hole and seems like the entire plate is somewhat rusty. This is a known issue that was recalled but if mine is beyond fixing I will have to get rid of it and pick up a new vehicle on the cheap.
I have had terrible luck with rust with my past 3 which were SUVs (02 4runner, 02 4runner, 03 pathfinder). I know that I really have to just bite the bullet and get a nice canoe rack or maybe utility trailer and go back to a sedan. Less rust problems, larger selection of reliable models, and more car for your money.
In comes the 2nd generation Lexus GS:
About as anonymous as they get, but you also get a 300hp v8 that sounds great, peak Lexus quality and reliability, brakes that stop shorter than a similar vintage Porsche, slalom average speed matching a Corvette, and a no nonsense interior that still feels well built and luxurious, or at least compared to a 90s 4runner.
Best of all, ive already owned one. My first car actually was a 1998 GS300 in black. So now the search is on for a v8 model (GS400 or GS430) to replace the Pathfinder. I have my eye on one with 80k miles selling for $5,500. To put that in perspective my GS300 was driven through 4 owners to 200k before I got rid of it and it was still running perfectly. For $5,500 I could potentially get 120k+ miles of use and still have a running Lexus.
I will settle for the right g35, is300, or Acura TL if it comes up, but I really hope I can find a 2nd gen GS and do it right this time with one of the v8s. God forbid I lose my mind and go for an e430 or e39 540i...