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3/4 Front Glamour 2013 Nissan Pathfinder

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Expert's Rating


MPG 20 City / 26 Highway
  • Powerful engine options
  • Well designed controls
  • Lots of cargo space
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Significant body roll through turns
  • Ride may be too rough for some
, Automotive Editor -
Nissan's Pathfinder now features a unibody design--and that means lower curb weight, improved fuel economy and a more compliant ride for driving around town. It also features seating for seven and a refined V6 that's more than capable for the majority of its owners.


As became apparent in the recent past, automakers must change with the times if they’re planning on having any monetary success. Often, this means retooling the purpose of a particular model for a more current adaptation, as evident in the all-new 2013 Nissan Pathfinder. No longer the truck-based, V8 powered SUV the automotive world had come to know, the Pathfinder is now 100% crossover with modern unibody construction and only a V6 engine offered.

More specifically, a 3.5L V6 connected to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that delivers 260 hp. On front-wheel drive models, the Pathfinder gets 20/26 mpg city/highway but provides a little less with the optional all-wheel drive. Of course, this exceptional fuel-mileage would not be possible without the sacrifices made by the Pathfinder in off-road capability from a generation ago.

Yet the 2013’s ride quality is significantly improved with much less corner-roll and a better feel for the pavement. The interior cabin has class-leading functionality plus high-quality materials. For most seven-passenger midsize crossovers with a 2-3-2 seating set-up, the third-row passengers become temporary gymnasts whenever entering or exiting the vehicle. This is not true in the Pathfinder, however, due to the EZ Flex seating system in which second-row seat sections can be tilted and slid forward so they don’t need to be climbed over for third-row access. Four trims, starting with the base model S and followed by the SV, SL and top-level Platinum are offered by Nissan. Features equipped standard throughout the model range include tri-zone (driver/front-passenger/rear) climate control, 18” alloy wheels, and tire pressure monitoring system with easy-fill tire alert.

Just a year ago the Pathfinder was one of the last old-school SUV’s in the midsize segment. With that formula no longer working, the new crossover has thrust itself into the thick of the competition. Much like the Pathfinder, Jeep’s classic Grand Cherokee has traded off-road prowess for on-road refinement as well, but is still highly capable in the dirt and has more powertrain options with seating for only five. Another rival, the Ford Explorer, has also exchanged the truck platform for a unibody chassis. The Explorer has experienced a similar improvement in ride quality as the Nissan but offers better fuel-efficiency with an available EcoBoost engine. Areas where the Pathfinder falls short are cargo space and third-row legroom, both of which are found in greater amounts within the Chevrolet Traverse.

Though it may disappoint off-road enthusiasts, the new design of the Nissan Pathfinder will surely find interest among a diverse group of shoppers.

Which Style To Buy?

2013 Nissan Pathfinder
Starting price

2013 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum

Recommended for: Buyers who don't mind paying more for a navigation system.

With many options reserved only for the Platinum, it is without a doubt the top-of-the-line Pathfinder. For example, the available Platinum Premium Package gives only Platinum owners the option of the tri-zone entertainment system. Featuring 7-inch monitors mounted to the backside of the front-row head restraints, the entertainment system also has a remote control and two wireless headphones. The other Platinum Premium Package features consist of a dual panorama moonroof and rear auxiliary audio/video input jacks that gives video-game console compatibility to the entertainment system. The premium Bose sound system is standard Platinum equipment as is the AroundView monitor that gives the driver a bird’s eye view for advanced maneuverability in tight spaces. For advanced maneuverability on the open road, Nissan’s navigation system is at the ready.

2013 Nissan Pathfinder
Starting price

2013 Nissan Pathfinder S

Recommended for: Drivers seeking a nice compromise of utility, capability and efficiency.

The base model of the Pathfinder lineup, the S trim is a good value for the mechanical equipment. The suspension is made up of an independent front strut and multi-link rear with stabilizer bars at both ends plus upgraded shock absorbers. The four-wheel disc brakes are vented and kept in check by the standard anti-lock braking system. The front windshield is given a solar strip and the rear passengers are treated with privacy glass. Interior standards include push button ignition with remote keyless entry and steering wheel-mounted audio/cruise controls. Automatic headlights are not available. Eight total cup holders with six bottle holders are included alongside eight cargo area tie-downs. Another cargo area standard is the under-floor storage with a cover just behind the third-row that flips up to reveal additional space.

2013 Nissan Pathfinder
Starting price

2013 Nissan Pathfinder SL

Recommended for: Consumers wanting a Pathfinder with standard leather-trimmed seats.

Including all SV features, the SL trim brings leather to the Pathfinder along with loads more options. Additions to the outside include fog lights, power heated side-mirrors with reverse tilt-down ability and chrome body-side moldings. Though not standard, an exclusive SL Premium Package comes with dual panorama moonroof, 13-speaker Bose audio system and a 120-volt AC power outlet. More standard SL equipment consists of convenience features like a power liftgate and remote engine start. Also included in that group is the HomeLink universal garage transceiver and auto-dimming rearview mirror. Both the first- and second-row seats are heated and the shift knob is leather-wrapped. Wood-tone trim inserts fill the cabin and stainless steel kick plates are glad to take abuse.

2013 Nissan Pathfinder
Starting price

2013 Nissan Pathfinder SV

Recommended for: Those not looking for the bells and whistles but would still like a few extras.

Equipped with standards like automatic headlights and roof rails, the SV allows for more usability. Interior features include a center stack information center with 7-inch color monitor and a rear sonar system for advising on object-proximity when the Pathfinder is in reverse. Another item attached to the back is the rearview monitor. SV owners can use Nissan’s intelligent key for access to their Pathfinder without ever actually using the key as long as they are carrying it on their body. Hands-free phone calls are made possible by a standard Bluetooth system and both seats up front get one-touch automatic up/down window function. Four 12-volt power outlets are installed as well as 8-way power adjust for the driver’s seat. Cloth-trim covers all seating surfaces.

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