Originally a traditional truck-based SUV, Nissan’s Pathfinder turned into a pavement-friendly crossover SUV a few years back. Customers appeared to welcome the change, as evidenced by increased sales. Set up with space for seven passengers on three rows of seats, the Pathfinder yields respectable fuel economy for its category, while providing a relaxing, almost sedan-like ride.
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2016 Nissan Pathfinder Overview
What's New for 2016
Except for additional comfort/convenience items on certain trim levels, the Pathfinder is essentially a carryover for 2016. SL models gain a heated steering wheel, while the SV can benefit from an available Cold Package that includes heated cloth front seats, plus a heated steering wheel and outside mirrors. A revised Almond interior has black and beige contrasting materials.
Choosing Your Nissan Pathfinder
All Pathfinders hold a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. (Those engine specifications are identical to those of the recently-redesigned Nissan Murano.) The V6 mates with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that incorporates D-Step shift logic, which simulates operation of a conventional gear-type transmission. Nissan has been a leader in the use of CVTs, even for relatively large vehicles.
Fuel economy is estimated at 20 mpg in city driving and 27 mpg on the highway, dipping to 19/26 mpg with all-wheel drive.
As expected in the crossover SUV class, the Pathfinder has standard front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive available across the board. The “intuitive” AWD system has three modes: 2WD, Auto, and 4WD Lock. Although the all-wheel-drive setup is hardly suitable for heavy-duty boulder-bashing, a Pathfinder is more capable in off-pavement driving than many competitors. When properly equipped, towing capacity reaches as high as 5,000 pounds, sufficient to haul pleasure boats and campers.
Special Pathfinder features include a tilt/glide second-row seat, which eases access to the third row even if a child safety seat is installed. A Drive-Assist display ahead of the driver has a 4-inch color screen. An 8-inch touchscreen is available, for use with the optional navigation system. An optional 360-degree Around View Monitor can make backing out of a driveway or parking-lot space safer and easier.
With four trim levels, the Pathfinder covers a broad spectrum of market territory:
All Pathfinders can get a Family Entertainment Package with dual 7-inch screens and DVD-playing capability.
Pathfinder prices stretch from $29,780 to $43,250 (for the Platinum AWD). So, it’s refreshing that all-wheel drive is optional on all trim levels, not just on the most costly models. You can decide whether to pay more for all-weather capability or creature comforts; or, if your pocketbook permits, perhaps both. As always, all-wheel drive is most useful in the snowbelt states.
2016 Nissan Pathfinder Review
Although it still bears the name of its SUV ancestors, today's Pathfinder is a pavement-friendly crossover with room for the whole family. There's also plenty of luxury and technology available for buyers seeking the ultimate suburban hauler.
Pricing and Equipment
- The lineup starts at $29,830 with the S model. Standard features include tri-zone automatic climate control, a six-CD changer, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a sliding and reclining second row.
- The $33,150 SV adds a wealth of popular features, including a rearview camera, a power driver seat, keyless ignition, rear parking sensors, and an upgraded sound system with Bluetooth and satellite radio. The Cold Weather package provides a heated steering wheel and heated front seats and mirrors for $400.
- Stepping up to SL at $36,410 gets you an upgraded interior with leather upholstery, a power liftgate, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. The SL Tech package ($2,030) adds surround-view cameras, a towing hitch and harness, and a Bose sound system. The $3,330 SL Premium package includes all that, plus dual sunroofs and a navigation system.
- The $41,610 Platinum comes standard with everything you can get on the other trims, plus ventilated front seats and 20-inch wheels.
All Pathfinders are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 260 horsepower, matched to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). As expected in this class, the Pathfinder is a front-driver with all-wheel drive available across the board ($1,700).
Performance highlights include:
- Fuel Efficiency: The Pathfinder achieves 23 mpg in combined city and highway driving, pretty good for a large V6 crossover that seats seven.
- Towing Capacity: You can pull up to $5,000 pounds with the Pathfinder. That's almost as much as some truck-based SUVs.
- Ride Quality: We're impressed by the Pathfinder's plush, sedan-like ride.
- Comfort is the theme here, not agility. The Pathfinder's size and ride-tuned suspension discourage any spirited maneuvers.
- Low-rolling-resistance tires are used to bolster fuel efficiency, but they don't grip the pavement as tightly as conventional tires.
- Nissan has worked hard to engineer noise and vibration out of the cabin. Passengers travel in near silence.
- The Pathfinder offers up to 80 cubic-feet of cargo space, plus a useful storage compartment under the floor.
- Both the second and third rows sit a lot closer to the floor than you would expect given the massive headroom available.
- With all seats in use, there's only 16 cubic feet of cargo space available, no more than the average trunk.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
The Pathfinder's hushed accommodations and rolling smoothness remind us of a luxury sedan.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
The interior layout and materials are rather uninspired, almost dull. Nissan's smaller Murano crossover looks much more sophisticated inside.
The Bottom Line
The Pathfinder is the comfy cruiser of the family crossover bunch.
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