The Nissan Pathfinder made its US debut for the 1987 model year originally as a five-passenger SUV powered by a standard 2.4-liter four or an optional 3.0-liter V-6 engine. It was based on Nissan’s small truck platform and it stayed that way for three generations.
2013 Nissan Pathfinder
Beginning in 2013, Nissan made the switch to unibody construction, offering a more car-like ride and enlarging the vehicle. The Pathfinder name remains, now assigned to a medium-size crossover utility vehicle that is available in front- and all-wheel drive layouts.
The switch to a unibody platform for the Nissan Pathfinder was inevitable. Competing models, including the Ford Explorer and Dodge Durango, had recently made the switch, joining the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Traverse and related models in providing roomy and efficient crossovers. In the transition Pathfinder loses some of its utility, namely its off-road prowess, and exchanges that for a more comfortable on-road ride.
Continuously Variable Transmission
The fourth generation Nissan Pathfinder is powered by a 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine. Gone is the base 4.0-liter V-6 and the optional 5.6-liter V-8. The new model relies on one engine and that motor is paired with a continuously variable transmission. This CVT is clean-shifting and avoids the bumping you feel when an automatic transmission is moving between gears.
The outside of the Nissan Pathfinder is dominated by the brand’s trademark grille. Oversized headlights and optional fog lights round out the revised fascia. The body features sweeping lines with narrow A- and D-pillars. Color-keyed heated side mirrors, chrome touches and wraparound tail lights add to its personality. This vehicle sits on 18-inch alloy wheels.
Four Trim Levels
Inside, the cabin is spacious, brightly lit and features soft touch materials throughout. Seating surfaces are overlaid with leather and provide sufficient bolstering for the driver. Nissan makes the Pathfinder available in four trim levels: S, SV, SL and Premium.
The tested Nissan Pathfinder SL edition was a 4×2 model featuring an 8-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support. The driver and front passenger seats featured heating and cooling capabilities. The second row seat is a three-place bench design offered heating capabilities. It folds and moves forward to provide access to the two-place 50/50 rear folding seat.
Pathfinder is outfitted with a tri-zone climate control system, offering separate controls for the driver, front passenger and second-row passengers. This model came equipped with a 13-speaker Bose audio system, SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, a seven-inch monitor, a rear view camera and a rear entertainment system. A navigation system was not included, reserved exclusively for the Premium model.
Ample Storage Options
Crossover models typically offer ample storage and the Nissan Pathfinder does not disappoint. Though it seats seven, there are 16 drink holders available — six each in the first and second rows, and four in the third row. Storage compartments include the door pockets, between the seats and in the floor of the rear storage area. This model also features an overhead sunglasses storage compartment up front, roof rails and side rails. A sunroof and a panoramic moonroof are included. Four 12-volt outlets and one 120-volt outlet are also included.
The all-new Nissan Pathfinder can tow and has a 5,000-pound trailering limit. Numerous safety features are standard including anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, traction control, stability control and a full complement of airbags including side curtain airbags. As tested, the Pathfinder SL retails for $38,720, but keep in mind that to get the navigation system you will need to upgrade to the pricier Premium model.
All-New Nissan Pathfinder
The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder offers a clear departure from previous generation models. That break may cost Nissan some customers, but it can also extend this model’s appeal to a new generation of crossover buyers. Clearly, Nissan believes that these new buyers will be enough to carry forth the Pathfinder name.
Photo courtesy of Nissan.