Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
October 30, 2013
The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder caused quite the ruckus when it was introduced at the 2012 New York Auto Show. Nissan announced that the new Pathfinder was leaving its off-road roots that it had for the majority of its life and was turning into a crossover. Of course, most everyone in the automotive world went mad and complained that Nissan was tarnishing the good name of the Pathfinder by going the crossover route.
However, Nissan is having the last laugh as sales of the new Pathfinder are booming. In 2011, Nissan moved 25,935 Pathfinders. So far this year, Nissan has more than double that with 63,826 Pathfinders finding a good home. But there comes a question; with this transformation, has Nissan been able to make a crossover that deserves the Pathfinder name?
The Pathfinder's interior is your standard Nissan fare with a plain looking design. Material quality ranges from soft-touch on the interior's touch points to hard materials along the bottom of the dashboard. There is wood trim along the center stack and console that adds a nice touch.
That's not the only problem with the Pathfinder SL's tech. The other one is with the Bluetooth system. To start, you can only make phone calls with the system and not stream any audio from your phone or audio device. Nissan has rectified this with the 2014 SL by making it an option, but I think this should be standard across the Pathfinder lineup. Also trying to pair my phone was a pain in the butt ordeal. Whereas most systems have you go into the settings menu to pair your phone, the Pathfinder has you use the voice button on the steering wheel to setup your phone. The only way you know this is by either looking in the owners manual or accidentally hitting the voice button. The setup process is thankfully painless, as is answering phone calls. Trying to make a call is another story. Nissan's voice system couldn't figure out what name I was trying to say and would ask me to repeat. I just found it easier to say the number or dial from my phone and send it to the vehicle.
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The Pathfinder SL comes with seating for seven people. Comfort varies on where you're sitting in the vehicle. Up front, passengers will find plush seats with good support and adjustments. The second-row offers passengers an abundance of head and legroom. Sadly, I didn't find the seats as comfortable because there isn't enough seat padding and I found the second-row isn't set as high like in the GMC Acadia. The third-row is easy to get to thanks to Nissan's EZ Flex Seating System which flips up the bottom cushion and tilts the back cushion to make the seat more compact and easier to move. This system also allows the seat to be moved if there is an infant seat by only tilting the back cushion. Space in the third row is tight for legroom, while headroom is decent.
For Powertrain and Ride Impressions, See The Next Page.
Powering all Pathfinders is the well-known 3.5L VQ V6 with 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet torque paired with Nissan's XTronic CVT. You have the choice of either front-wheel or ALL-MODE 4x4-i. In my notes for the Pathfinder, the power delivery feels like the vehicle is climbing a hill while struggling to keep the speed prior to reaching an rpm where the power delivery becomes more immediate. The engine doesn't feel as powerful on the lower end as it does on the higher end. I'm not sure if this is an issue with the engine's computer or the CVT. Speaking of the CVT, it does a excellent job of keeping the 3.5L V6 quiet, except when you accelerate and the prolonged drone enters the cabin. The EPA rates the 2013 Pathfinder at 19 City/25 Highway/21 Combined. During my week, I saw an average of 22.1 MPG.
- 2WD: Leaves the Pathfinder in front-wheel drive
- Auto: All-Wheel Drive system kicks in if the system detects a loss of traction
- Lock: All-Wheel Drive System stays on for a certain amount of time and at certain speed before switching back to Auto.
I mostly left the system in 2WD, but I switched into Auto when a nasty storm rolled through and dumped a lot of rain. The system did its job and I got to my destination safely.
The Pathfinder's transformation of being a rough and tough SUV to family friendly crossover has mostly worked out. Nissan got most of the basics right with a comfortable ride, plush interior, high fuel economy numbers, and some clever features. However, some odd decisions made with the infotainment unit, a horrid bluetooth system, and the odd behavior of the powertrain rob the Pathfinder of the best-in-class crown. If Nissan can address these problems in the near future, then we might have a real competitor to GM's Lambda family.
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Disclaimer: Nissan Provided the Pathfinder SL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas.
Trim: SL i-4X4
Engine: 3.5L VQ V6
Driveline: All-Wheel Drive, CVT
Horsepower @ RPM: 260 @ 6400
Torque @ RPM: 240 @ 4400
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/25/21
Curb Weight: 4,312 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Smyrna, TN
Base Price: $36,070
As Tested Price: $40,470 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
SL Premium Package - $2,650.00
Roof Rail Cross Bars - $300.00
Illuminated Kick Plates - $275.00
Carpeted Floor Mats - $200.00
Splash Guards - $175.00