2006 Nissan Pathfinder LE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
Looked at every midsize SUV in this price range, and it came down to the Pathfinder LE 4x4 or 4Runner Sport. Close call, but the Pathfinder won - seats are much more comfortable, dashboard ergonomics are FAR superior, side airbags are standard. (Side airbags are NOT available in the 4Runner Sport w/leather; if you want both you have to move up to the 4Runner LTD.) My previous SUVs were an '84 Bronco and '93 Explorer - this Pathfinder trumps both. In my "hill country suburban" driving, I've gotten just under 18 mpg in my first 1100 miles on regular - about 2 mpg better than I got with my smaller, less- powerful Explorer. Plus, the Pathfinder has more US content (60%) than the 4Runner (5%).
Good engine, dual temp control, plenty of in-cabin storage bins, good Bose stereo, comfortable seating position, side airbags standard, good 4WD system. Basically, the Nissan LE is equipped like a 4Runner LTD for around $5K less, and is more comfortable with better dash ergonomics.
Seat cushions could be a tad longer. Make 3rd row seat optional, move back seat rearward a few inches. Bring back the retractable rear tonneau cover - there's provision for it, so why is it missing? Center bin COULD be a little bit larger - or just copy the sliding armrest of Toyota's AVALON