Drive Away 2Day

2013 Nissan Pathfinder : Current Models

Like most sport-utility vehicles, the Pathfinder has been through several personality adjustments over the years, from the original wild child Hardbody truck of 1986 to the mannerly, well-adjusted, seven-passenger family hauler that will roll into Nissan showrooms at the end of October.

Lots of evolution, but the transition from the current third generation Pathfinder to the new 2013 model, is perhaps the most dramatic.

The outgoing Pathfinder is an old school truck-based body-on-frame design, basically rear-wheel drive, with substantial ground clearance, a rugged setup conceived for those who think driving fun begins when the pavement ends.

But the adventurous element has been diminishing in the last few years, replaced by a much different set of priorities: fuel economy, roominess, comfort, and safety. Grown-up stuff. The body-on-frame design gives way to a new architecture, shared with the Infiniti JX—basically front-drive, unibody construction (frame integrated with the body shell), higher chassis rigidity, dramatically lower curb weights, and dramatically higher mpg ratings.

Vital Stats
According to Nissan, the new Pathfinders will weigh from 4149 to 4471 pounds, depending on trim level and whether they're equipped with all-wheel drive. That may look like pretty substantial mass, but it's much lighter than the 2012 model, by as much as 500 pounds.

Making the weight reduction even more impressive, the new Pathfinder is bigger than its predecessor in almost every dimension. The wheelbase gains 2.0 inches, to 114.2, overall length goes from 192.3 inches to 197.2, and width increases from 72.8 to a lane-filling 77.2. The only diminished dimension is height, down 3.0 inches to 69.6, in part due to reduced ground clearance, a very modest 6.5 inches, about the same as many sedans, and not at all conducive to rugged off-roading.

Nissan has put the added inches to good use in the roomy interior, whose middle row seats adjust fore and aft by as much as 5.5 inches, with third-row seat access that doesn't require contortions. An interesting touch: the middle row seatback can flip forward for third-row climb-in even when there's a child seat in place. Plenty of cargo space, too.

Overall, the cabin feels more open than some SUVs, thanks to a lower beltline and slim A and D roof pillars. Instrumentation is straightforward and gratifyingly legible, the center stack, which is dominated by an 8-inch display screen, includes a sensible mix of touch-screen controls augmented by ordinary buttons and rotary knobs, as distinct from some competing all digital setups. MPG and MPH
Nissan's ubiquitous 3.5-liter V-6 replaces the previous 4.0-liter. At 260 horsepower and 240 lb.-ft. it sacrifices a bit of thrust, particularly on the torque side of the ledger, but it's hitched to a significantly lighter vehicle, so acceleration doesn't really suffer. Expect 0-to-60 mph to come up in the mid 7-second range.

As with the Infiniti JX, power finds its way to the pavement via a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is another key component in the Pathfinder's strong fuel economy story. EPA ratings are 20 mpg city, 26 highway for the front-drive model—best highway rating in class, according to Nissan—and 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway with all-wheel drive. That is a big gain from the 14 mpg city /20 mpg highway rating of the current vehicle.

On Road and Off
The driving experience can be summed up as mature. Suspension tuning is firm enough to keep cornering attitudes level, without compromising the comfort quotient, and there's enough power to minimize drama in passing on two-lane highways.

But there's little in the new Pathfinder's dynamic persona to encourage friskiness. Relatively slow at 3.3 turns lock to lock, the new electric power steering system delivers little tactile information to the driver, and the transmission exhibits the up and down hunting that's typical of CVTs, though Nissan is making steady progress with this transmission type.

As an aside, it's worth noting that the new Pathfinder's towing capacity—5000 pounds—is exceptionally high for a CVT. On the other hand, the third generation Pathfinder could tow up to 7000 pounds.

Still, if fun-to-drive is essentially absent, there are other virtues of a grown-up nature. Ride quality, for example, is firm but compliant enough to iron out most pavement nastiness, brake pedal feel is just right and nicely responsive to driver modulation, interior noise levels are commendably low at all speeds, and if the Pathfinder isn't designed for off-road adventures it figures to do well in rain and snow, even in basic front-drive mode.

The Bottom Line
Designed to compete in the premium large SUV segment with the likes of the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Chevy Traverse and Toyota Highlander, the Pathfinder's pricing ranges from just over $28,000 to well over $40,000 for a loaded top-of-the-line version with all-wheel drive.

Price Point Specifics:
Pathfinder S: $28,270
Pathfinder SV: $31,530
Pathfinder SL: $34,470
Pathfinder Platinum: $39,170.
**Add $1600 for all-wheel drive.

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Sources : 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Photo | 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Article | 2013 Nissan Pathfinder - Reviewed Video | 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Photo 2 | 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Photo 3 | 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Photo 4 | 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Interior Photo | 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Photo 5 | 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Engine Photo


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