|S||3.5-liter V6 Gas||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive, Four Wheel Drive||$28,158||$30,290|
|SV||3.5-liter V6 Gas||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive, Four Wheel Drive||$30,654||$32,980|
|SL||3.5-liter V6 Gas||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive, Four Wheel Drive||$33,550||$36,100|
|Platinum||3.5-liter V6 Gas||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive, Four Wheel Drive||$39,089||$42,070|
by James Allen
With a greater emphasis on comfort and practicality, this current generation of Nissan Pathfinder is a noticeable departure from its predecessors.
Turning what was once a rugged off-road-biased vehicle into a more car-like crossover may seem unusual at first, but such a process does appear to have done the Nissan Pathfinder a world of good. Okay, it’s not quite the terrain-conquering beast it was before, but the flipside is now that the Nissan Pathfinder is much more appropriate choice for a greater percentage of family SUV buyers. Admittedly, the Nissan Pathfinder isn’t a perfect vehicle, and we fully understand that some will be disappointed that the car’s no longer as capable off the beaten path. Nevertheless, we think the Nissan Pathfinder does enough to be worthy of your consideration if you’re in the market for such a car.
One element of the Nissan Pathfinder that’s remained roughly the same is its spaciousness.
Though some areas have undergone noteworthy change, one element of the Nissan Pathfinder that’s remained roughly the same is its spaciousness. Whilst the overall capacities aren’t quite able to top the very best the mid-sized SUV class has to offer, the Nissan Pathfinder is nevertheless able to provide ample room for the driver, the passengers and their paraphernalia. Overall head and leg room in the front and center row seats, for example, is fairly generous overall, and the seats themselves are quite comfortable and supportive by segment standards. Even the middle seat in the center row is of use: by being fairly broad, it means three adults can just about be seated in this middle bench comfortably for longer journeys. Understandably, the two seats that make up the back row aren’t quite as accommodating, but they are surprisingly spacious. In fact, thanks to the surprisingly generous amounts of head and leg room on offer, we reckon the Nissan Pathfinder is the only mid-sized seven-seater SUV that can accommodate teenagers and small adults in the back row on decent-sized journeys.
Better still, the seats fold away completely flat and there’s no load lip on the trunk.
A shame, then, that there aren’t many sizeable storage compartments throughout the cabin. The door bins, for instance, are only really designed to swallow up bottles of water (which they, admittedly, do fairly well), and the cubby spot between the center console and the transmission tunnel is rather tricky to access. That said, the glove box is of a decent size, as is the storage spot under the front center armrest. Thankfully, the trunk capacity is noticeably more generous. Whilst the 16 cubic feet capacity with all the seats in place isn’t that much to write home about in this class, the 47.8 cubic feet with the 50:50 split rear seats tucked away is far more reasonable – as is the maximum total of 79.8 cubic feet with the middle row folded down as well (even though rivals like the Honda Pilot and Chevrolet Traverse are noticeably more commodious). Better still, the seats fold away completely flat and there’s no load lip on the trunk, so sliding longer and heavier items in and out of the load bay shouldn’t be a problem. Build quality and fit-and-finish is also pretty good overall, with most of the main contact patches being pleasant to the touch and befitting of the base Nissan Pathfinder’s $30,290 asking price (our only notable quibble is that leather upholstery is only available from the $36,100 SL-trim upwards). Likewise, most of the controls are intuitive enough to operate, though we’re not big fans of the clusters of small buttons that aren’t that easy to distinguish from each other and the ‘it-gets-the-job-done touchscreen infotainment system.
The Nissan Pathfinder is far more composed on the asphalt.
If you’re hoping the current Nissan Pathfinder is as capable off-road as its forbears were, then you’ll be sorely disappointed. Though the SUV can survive light trails and muddy backroads with relative ease if you specify the optional all-wheel drive system, anything more arduous and demanding than that will be pushing the Nissan Pathfinder’s limits – so, if off-road capabilities are a concern for you, something like a Jeep Grand Cherokee or a Toyota 4Runner will be more suitable for your requirements. However, the trade-off for this is that the Nissan Pathfinder is far more composed on the asphalt where a majority of mid-sized SUV buyers will likely never venture from. Refinement levels, for instance, are particularly impressive this time around, with well suppressed tire roar and wind noise by class standards. There’s also surprisingly little body lean when cornering, which – in conjunction with the suitable levels of grip and the responsive-if-numb steering – means you can confidently keep the Nissan Pathfinder in its lane whilst going around a bend at speed.
The Nissan Pathfinder provides a good view of the road ahead as a result of its raised driving position.
We’re also very satisfied with the overall visibility. Though the presence of chunky pillars do result in some notable blind spots, the blocked view’s about on par with class standards, and the large windshield and windows do go some way to alleviating that problem. Plus, being an SUV, the Nissan Pathfinder provides a good view of the road ahead as a result of its raised driving position. A shame, then, that the ride quality isn’t quite up there with the best in class. Though the Nissan Pathfinder isn’t an obtrusively uncomfortable car, there is a firm edge to the ride quality that’s not only a tad rigid by segment standards, but is also slightly at odds with the refinement levels.
This seven-seater mid-sized SUV is only available with one old school engine: a 3.5-liter six-cylinder gasoline setup.
The car industry in general may be adopting the trend of engine downsizing at a noticeable pace, but there are some vehicles on the market that haven’t quite got that memo yet – with the Nissan Pathfinder being one such car. Whereas comparable cars have experimented with smaller units and turbocharging, this seven-seater mid-sized SUV is only available with one old school engine: a 3.5-liter six-cylinder gasoline setup that’s devoid of the turbochargers that are slowly starting to pop up on larger SUVs and flatbed trucks. Even though this large vehicle has an equally big engine under the hood, the Nissan Pathfinder does return some pretty good economy figures. For sure, the 20mpg city/27mpg highway that front-wheel drive Nissan Pathfinders are claimed to be capable of (adding all-wheel drive drops the economy by one mpg both ways) aren’t amazing in a sector where the Mazda CX-9 can return 22mpg in the city and 28mpg on the highway, but the Nissan Pathfinder is on par frugality-wise with other six-cylinder gasoline-powered rivals. The 3.5-liter engine is also potent enough to haul the Nissan Pathfinder up to speed surprisingly briskly. Of course, it’s no SUV, but having 284-hp and 259 lb-ft to call upon does mean this seven-seater has a decent turn of pace at hand – which is pretty handy for, say, when you’re trying to pull off an overtaking move on the highway. Plus, the engine’s rather smooth and refined, and well suited to burbling along at a cruise.
Only one transmission is available on the Nissan Pathfinder.
If there is a complaint, though, it’s that the outputs are at the higher end of the rev range, so the Nissan Pathfinder’s pace isn’t quite as effortless as, say, a Kia Sorento with a turbocharged engine. Still, considering how much oomph there is to play with, this criticism of the Nissan Pathfinder is a small one. Only one transmission is available on the Nissan Pathfinder: a continuously variable transmission, or CVT, that you treat just like a regular automatic. Though CVTs used to have a reputation for being uncouth and noisy, the one used in the Nissan Pathfinder is a very impressive one, thanks to its smooth and refined operation.
The Nissan Pathfinder does come with a decent amount of equipment as standard.
Though not quite the most affordable vehicle in this segment (the likes of the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe and Chevrolet Traverse are cheaper to buy in their base guises), the Nissan Pathfinder is a reasonably priced mid-sized SUV. On top of being a bit more versatile than strict five-seater SUVs like the Ford Edge and Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Nissan Pathfinder does come with a decent amount of equipment as standard. That’s not to say there are some unusual omissions on the $30,290 entry level car, though. Power-adjustable seats and parking sensors aren’t available on the most basic ‘S’ spec models, for instance, and leather upholstery is only offered on the two top-spec trim levels. Still, at least the Nissan Pathfinder does compensate for that by coming with three-zone climate control, a reversing camera, satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity.
Regardless of which model you go for, the Nissan Pathfinder will be a safe vehicle.
We would, though, be more inclined to recommend the next rung up the Nissan Pathfinder specification level: the $32,980 ‘SV’ trim. On top of all of the items included in the base car, the Nissan Pathfinder also gains access to rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power adjustment for the driver’s seat and automatic headlights. Factor in the $1,050 SV Technology Package, which has adds built-in navigation, blind spot warning, a premium audio system and a rear cross traffic alert system which warns you of oncoming vehicles when, for example, you’re reversing out of your driveway onto the road, and you’ll have a fairly well priced Nissan Pathfinder with a good amount of convenience features installed. There is also a $36,100 SL version of the Nissan Pathfinder, but we hesitate on recommending that one (and especially not the $42,070 top-spec Platinum version). For sure, leather upholstery, a surround view camera system to use as a parking aid and standard-fit blind spot warning are nice to have, but the Nissan Pathfinder does become more difficult to recommend at this price point, considering it’s here where larger and more practical SUVs start to enter the marketplace. Regardless of which model you go for, the Nissan Pathfinder will be a safe vehicle. Thanks to its complement of safety gear, the Nissan Pathfinder was able to secure a five-star result in its most recent NHTSA crash test. Reliability also shouldn’t be a huge concern, considering most of the technology featured on the Nissan Pathfinder has been featured on other Nissan models, and there are three-years/36,000-miles bumper-to-bumper and five-years/60,000-miles powertrain warranties to fall back on should the worst happen.
Compared with rival cars, the Nissan Pathfinder doesn’t excel in terms of outright capacity, comfort, fuel economy or value for money.
As we stated earlier, the Nissan Pathfinder isn’t quite the off-road-ready SUV it used to be, to the point where it is noticeably outclassed by the likes of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Toyota 4Runner if you need something that can tackle something more arduous than a muddy trail. This has at least made the Nissan Pathfinder a much more appealing ownership experience to those looking for a more car-like sports utility vehicle, though even here there are some drawbacks. Compared with rival cars, the Nissan Pathfinder doesn’t excel in terms of outright capacity, comfort, fuel economy or value for money. Instead, the Nissan Pathfinder manages to do lots of little things well; becoming a pretty good all-rounder in the process. So, whilst it isn’t quite a class leader, the Nissan Pathfinder does at least have enough going for it to justify being worthy of your consideration.