All-New Nissan Pathfinder, Rugged, Family-Friendly

By Sue Mead, December 1st, 2012

Nissan's all-new 2013 Pathfinder is lighter, roomier and more fuel-efficient than its predecessor, with some clever cargo features and technology capabilities that you can't find anywhere else in the mid-sized SUV segment.

The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder comes in S, SV, SL and Platinum trims in 2WD and 4WD versions and starts at $28,270. Like many modern SUVs, the Pathfinder's look has evolved to give it more of a car-like, crossover look. The updated vehicle is lighter by about 500 pounds, more aerodynamic than in years past, and has moved from body-on-frame architecture to a unibody build, making it ride less like a truck and more like a minivan.

Pathfinder's grille, dominated by a large Nissan badge backed by a black honeycomb design, stretches like a pair of wings across the entire front end. Large halogen headlamps wrap around to the sides; optional fog lamps are mounted in the lower part of the grille.

The roofline slants sharply down from the shoulders to the tail end, lending the vehicle a more coupe-like stance despite its longer, three-row size. Character lines scoop out the midsection and the liftback is topped by an integrated spoiler. Standard wheels are 18-inch alloys with 20-inch wheels available on the highest-end models.

We drove the new Pathfinder on a road course of approximately 150 miles, traveling on a collection of two-lanes from the Calistoga Trail of Napa Valley to a section of northern California's coastal routes ascend and descend the hilly terrain that abuts the Pacific Ocean.

Our tester was the base Pathfinder S 2WD model and enjoyed the all-new brightened and upgraded interior, with comfortable ergonomics for driver and front seat passenger, as well as good second-and third-row seat roominess; notable is the true ease-of-access to the back row.

Nissan claims best-in-class passenger volume, front head and leg room and class-exclusive 3rd-row reclining seats, a latch and Glide System for 2nd row seats and the EZ Flex seating system. What all this means is a more luxurious ride and some innovation to have elbow room, plus a straightforwardness to get smaller riders situated in all rows.

Now a unibody, the ride quality is more car-like and Nissan's engineers have worked their magic to make the cockpit whisper-quiet. Our only complaint was the steering feel with the base Pathfinder's 18-inch tires; we found it worked well while driving straight and with small turns, but required some slight corrections when maneuvering through hard corners.

The Pathfinder is powered by a V-6 engine making 260 horsepower and 240 lb.-ft. of torque, which is mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission. Higher-end Pathfinder trims also have Nissan's ALL-MODE 4x4-I system, which is engineered with selectable 2WD, Auto or 4WD Lock modes. Fuel economy estimates are 26 mpg highway/20 mpg city for 2WD models and 25/19 mpg highway/city for 4WD models. Top towing capacity is 5,000 pounds.

Inside, Pathfinder is roomier and has ample room for seven passengers across three rows of seats. The second row splits 60/40 and can be moved back and forth while keeping a child safety seat latched -- the second row moves 5.5 inches to make entry into the third row, which splits 50/50. The third row also reclines, and both rows can fold flat to accommodate large cargo. There's under-floor storage behind the third row, as well.

Pathfinder's standard upholstery is cloth, with leather on board for higher trim levels -- heated front seats are standard on uplevel versions. An AM/FM/CD 6-speaker stereo is standard, as is a 4-inch color display mounted in front of the driver.

Pathfinder's suspension is made up of stabilizer bars in front and rear, as well as front independent struts and rear multi-link configurations. Vehicle dynamic control and Hill Start Assist are standard, as are six airbags. A 360-degree view of the space immediately around the vehicle is available through the optional Around View sensor system.


Base price $28,270
Curb weight 4,149 lbs.
Displacement 3.5-liter
Epa mileage rating 20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 19.5 gal.
Horsepower (net) 260 at 6400 rpm
Motor type 24-valve DOHCV V-6 w/SMPFI
Overall length 197.2 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 240 at 4400 rpm
Transmission CVT
Vehicle type 7-passenger 2WD SUV
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