Well, my job just got harder. I get a ton of questions on the radio show about midsized crossover SUVs with 3rd row seating. I always talk about the Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse, Toyota Highlander, etc. All of them are great choices. NOW, I have another one to add to the list, the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder. This is sort of big news, because in the past, the words Pathfinder barely crossed my lips, I was not a fan.
My tester is the Platinum Edition two-wheel drive. It has the 3.5-liter V6, which is a tried and true engine. It is producing 260-horses but with the continuously variable transmission (CVT), it feels more like 300. For me, I am not always a fan of the feel of a CVT, but it works in this SUV. Nissan exchanged the belts in the tranny with chains, which should make it much more durable.
The exterior is beautiful, with defined lines, and sharp 20” wheels. The paint on this Artic Blue Pathfinder is stunning and full of life. It is one of the best paint jobs I’ve ever seen from a factory. I don’t know what they did to achieve this at their Smyrna, Tennessee assembly plant, but it is impressive.
The interior bowls you over the minute you open a door. Nissan did an exceptional job making everything inside look plush and comfortable. The leather seating is wide and comfortable in front, and there is nice leg room for the second row, and ample room in the 3rd row. People 6’ or maybe slightly more would be comfortable, and it has an impressive amount of cargo room behind the third row seat. Also nice, the spacious 2nd-row moves forward and backward up to 5½ inches for excellent access to the back row, even with a child seat installed.
This Pathfinder is loaded with all power accessories, has a power tilt steering wheel, heated and cooled seats, a great Bose stereo system, and one of the best navigation systems I have seen. It has an 8” color monitor that you can operate by touch or with controls, it has remote start, and a dual panoramic moon roof.
One neat feature is the Easy Fill tire alert. If you have a low tire, and you go to put air in it, the horn beeps at you when it has the right amount of air. BRILLIANT!
Other features include pushbutton start, heated steering wheel, rearview camera, steering wheel controls, Bluetooth, and trailer towing package, rated to pull 5000 pounds. This one has the dual screen DVD player.
The 2013 Pathfinder has a unibody platform, which gives it a nice smooth ride. It is 500 pounds lighter, and 4.6” longer than the 2012. The quietness is noticeable, and it handles great. Overall, it is a joy to drive, much like its sibling, the Infiniti JX.
The larger, gentler, smoother, prettier Pathfinder is much improved, priced right, and should be on your shopping list.
What I liked most: The interior and exterior appearance.
What I would change: Give me blind-spot monitoring as standard!
MSRP: $42,920 as equipped. Base price is $39,170
Fuel Economy: 20 City and 26 Highway, doing slightly better.
Warranty: 3 years/36,000 mile bumper to bumper coverage, plus 5 years/60,000 on the powertrain, and roadside assistance.
2013 Nissan Pathfinder in a few words: A must-see if you are in the market for a midsized SUV with a 3rd row seat.
03/20/2013 Addendum to Review: I gave the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder a stellar review last week. In the interest of being upfront and honest about all reviews, you should know that toward the end of the week, after the review was published, I encountered severe transmission problems with the Pathfinder. At about 1700 miles, the vehicle started to lurch. It got worse as I went along, at one point I lost complete power on a freeway, the engine was running but the transmission would not pull at all. After sitting for a while, it started to go again, but at times was hung in low gear.
This is not to say this will be an issue with any other Pathfinders out there. You should know too that things like this happen with every manufacturer.
I hope to find out what the problem was, and I expect Nissan will fly Engineers here to analyze this incident.