For its latest redesign, the Nissan Pathfinder has ditched its previous truck-based platform for carlike unibody underpinnings. While this means that tackling trails is no longer its forte, the switch does endow the Pathfinder with class-leading fuel economy and improved on-road manners to go along with a well-furnished cabin with seating for seven.
Nissan has introduced a hybrid variant of the Pathfinder for the latest model year that returns 26 mpg combined - that's four mpgs better than the standard, V6-powered model discussed herein.
In place of the boxy shape of its predecessor, the latest Pathfinder features softer, more fluid lines that hint at the less rugged - but more refined - structure that lies beneath. This new car-based architecture helps the crossover weight in at 500 lbs. less than before.
The reduced mass, in turn, aids the Pathfinder in achieving excellent efficient figures from its 260-horsepower, 240-lb ft of torque 3.5-liter V6. In standard front-wheel-drive from, the crossover is capable of returning 20 city/26 highway mpg, while an available four-wheel-drive system aids extra foul-weather traction but reduces fuel economy to 19 city/25 highway mpg. In normal situations it drives the front wheels only, diverting power rearward when extra grip is needed; should the driver desire, it can also be locked into FWD-only mode for optimal economy or 4WD-only for light off-roading.
Maximum towing capacity is rated at 5,000 lbs. for all models.
The Pathfinder shifts through a continuously variable transmission that also plays a big part in the ute's fuel-thrifty ways. It can, however, induce prolonged bouts of high-rpm engine droning under medium-to-heavy acceleration.
Roominess and versatility are defining characteristics of the interior, which boasts 2nd-row seats with 5.5-inches of forwards and backwards travel so that 2nd- or 3rd-row legroom can be prioritized. A Latch and Glide system means the 2nd row can be folded forward for easy access to the rearmost seats, which offer adequate space for children or short adults.
Sixteen cubic feet of cargo space are available behind the 3rd row, while 47.8 and 79.8 cubes can be unlocked by folding the 2nd and 3rd rows flat, respectively.
In terms of design and materials, there's a definite upscale feel to the cabin, from the quality of the materials to the tasteful layout of the dashboard. Things can be further upgraded with a variety of options including a voice-activated navigation system, a 13-speaker Bose stereo and an impressive Around View system that uses four cameras to provide a 360-degree overhead view of the Pathfinder's surroundings.
Standard and Optional Features
The Pathfinder is available in S, SV, SL and Limited trim levels.
The entry-level S is fitted with tri-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, keyless entry, push button start, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo system with an AUX input jack, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The SV adds an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, a rear sonar system, Bluetooth connectivity, a proximity key, a USB input, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift, auxiliary audio/video input jacks, SiriusXM satellite radio, a seven-inch info display and speed-sensitive intermittent windshield wipers.
The SL brings leather upholstery, a power liftgate, remote start, heated front and rear seats, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, wood-tone trim, heated exterior mirror, chrome body side moldings, fog lights, a HomeLink universal trasceiver, stainless steel kick plates, memory functionality for the driver's seat and exterior mirrors and a digital compass.
The range-topping Platinum includes a navigation system with an eight-inch touchscreen, NavTraffic and NavWeather, Zagat restaurant reviews, Around View monitor, a 13-speaker Bose stereo, DVD video playback capability, Bluetooth streaming audio capability, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a power tilt/telescoping steering column with position memory, a two hitch receiver with a seven-pin trailer tow wiring harness, a 120-volt AC power outlet and 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
All Pathfinder models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Looking for a three-row crossover with plenty of space for people and gear? Alternatives to the Pathfinder are numerous, including the Ford Explorer, the Toyota Highlander, the Honda Pilot, the Mazda CX-9 and the Hyundai Santa Fe.