Nissan's most popular SUV hasn't really resonated with me, since Busta Rhymes was in that Leader’s of the New School video, stunting in his cherry Pathfinder. A lot has changed about the vehicle since it debuted in 1986. Given the rising cost of gas and the dwindling number of people who buy trucks with off-roading (yes, some people actually use 4x4's for their intended purpose) in mind, Nissan has completely revamped the Pathfinder for a new generation of buyers.
The Pathfinder is no longer as square as a box of Apple Jacks. The designers have modernized its appearance tremendously, hence Nissan calling it a next-generation SUV. That’s just a fancy way of making people feel as though they need to buy it, but honestly, it holds up. The change in its body makes for a quieter ride and lower vibration sensitivity. The vehicle is longer and wider than the 3rd-generation model, but it weighs 500 pounds less (more on that later). The Pathfinder's change from traditional body-on-frame, construction to unibody is very noticeable in style and drivability.
The first thing consumers will notice about the all-new Pathfinder, is that it’s much roomier than the last edition, with seating and luggage capacity for seven people. Which should be enough, because if you have more than seven people in your whip, you’re officially a basketball team. The driver and first passenger seats are premium and comfortable. The second row is roomy as well, and features the new EZ Flex seating, which utilizes a latch and glide system that allows the 2nd row seat to be tipped up with relative ease. It’s very simple to access 3rd row seating. This is a good feature for anyone with car seat aged kids, because it allows parents to move the 2nd row without unlatching the car seat. The third row is cumbersome, it will technically fit adults but any regular sized adult's head will be very close to the ceiling and the position of the bench is awkward.
This is one of Pathfinder's strong suits. If you've watched any sporting event over the last couple weeks, then you've probably seen the recent Pathfinder television spot, detailing their bird's eye view tech. The class-exclusive around-view monitor allows drivers to get an overhead view of the vehicle's perimeter. Aside from being legitimately next level, it is also a good safety feature.
One of the other brilliantly simple tech advancements in the Pathfinder was borrowed from the 2013 Nissan Altima. The Easy Fill Tire Alert system alerts drivers when their tires are filled to suggested pressure via a horn beep, very simple but effective.
Pathfinder also boasts a nice optional 13-speaker Bose sound system with tri-zone entertainment package, which allows passengers to watch separate, feeds on the rear monitors. Nissan also raised the level of resolution on the 8-inch monitor by several notches.
It doesn't look like gas will dip below $3 a gallon anytime in the foreseeable future (regardless of who wins the election), so mpg is extremely important when shopping for a new whip. To get the best fuel economy out of the Pathfinder, Nissan deaded the V-8 engine, opting for a 3.5 liter V-6 and shed 500-lb's in total weight. The result is what they are calling a class leading 26 mpg. Despite the changes, the Pathfinder can still easily tow up to 5000 lbs.
Switching to a unibody construction has its advantages and drawbacks. Though the 2013 Pathfinder is head and shoulders above last generation's model, once the mid-sized SUV encounters rough roads, the ride tends to be bumpy. Not to the point of discomfort, but it is definitely noticeable.
Nissan's advent of the CVT transmission works well in tandem with the V-6 engine. Passing, acceleration and handling are what city/highway drivers would expect from an SUV of this size. For those of us that are more adventurous, using the driver selectable 2WD/Auto/4WD Lock for rougher terrain will pretty much get you into (or out of) any precarious situations.
Overall, the 4th generation Pathfinder is innovative in many areas and right on par in others. Drivers who have become accustomed to the rough and tumble off-road/towing Path of yesteryear may be initially turned off by the changes but if they get behind the wheel they will understand that the designers and engineers haven't forgotten about the hardcore loyalists, they have just advanced the product to make it more attractive to the casual driver.
$28,270 – $40,770 + options