During my college days, there was a certain kind of boy who was messily preppy and had a penchant for the outdoors, good music, and good times; this guy almost always seemed to drive a Nissan Pathﬁnder. Today, their days are spent at the ofﬁce, at their kids’ sporting events, and, yes, even driving carpool and going to the grocery store. Times have changed. Thankfully, the Pathﬁnder has also changed.
The redesigned 2013 Nissan Pathﬁnder is now much more a family oriented crossover than it is a college boy’s rugged SUV.
The Pathﬁnder is now built on the same unibody structure as its lauded cousin, the Inﬁniti JX35. It comes standard with comfortable seating for seven and is ﬁlled with thoughtful storage spaces. Family needs weren’t overlooked in the redesign: The second-row seats can slide and tip forward with a forward-facing childsafety seat installed in them.
But like those college boys, the Pathﬁnder retains some of its spirit. For a family car, it’s pretty fun to drive. With its 3.5-liter V-6 engine, it has some pickup, handles the stopand-go trafﬁc on city streets well, and makes easy work of passing slower cars on the highway.
The 2013 Pathﬁnder has a starting price of $29,495, including an $845 destination charge. I tested a mid-level SL trim with front-wheel-drive that cost $35,695.
This vehicle trades its boxy looks for curves that help improve its aerodynamics and fuel economy, and I think they give it a generally more feminine aesthetic. Women will laud it for its practicality and style while men might take some time to warm up to it since it doesn’t roar with testosterone.
Thanks to the new unibody platform, the Pathﬁnder’s step-in height is passable for small children, and the doors are within reach for most school-aged children. The doors are also reasonably lightweight, making them easy to open and close.
Eighteen-inch aluminum alloy wheels, fog lights, and heated, power, side mirrors are standard on the SL trim. An SL Premium Package ($2,650) adds a panoramic moonroof, among other things, and a Trailer Tow Package ($400) is also available, allowing the Pathﬁnder to tow up to 5,000 pounds.That’s less than the previous-generation Pathﬁnder but probably more than enough given the target market for this crossover.
A power liftgate is standard on the Pathﬁnder SL. Rear cargo space isn’t great with all three rows in use—it rarely is—but the addition of a deep under-ﬂoor compartment adds to the cargo area’s usability. Bonus: The compartment comes in handy for stashing gifts away from the prying eyes of excited children. The Pathﬁnder’s total cargo volume behind the third row is 16 cubic feet.With the second and third rows folded ﬂat— something that’s easily accomplished thanks to the quick pull of a few straps—it bumps up to nearly 80 cubic feet.
The 2013 Pathﬁnder has a standard 3.5-liter V-6 engine that makes 260 horsepower. It has a continuously variable automatic transmission. Front-wheel-drive is standard and all-wheeldrive is available. It gets an EPA-estimated 20/26 mpg city/highway with front-wheel-drive and 19/25 mpg with all-wheel-drive. It uses regular unleaded fuel.
The Pathﬁnder’s interior is quite attractive, comfortable, and well-equipped.The cabin materials used appear upscale, and the SL trim features some faux-wood trim, comfortable seating, and an intuitive center stack that houses a seven-inch color monitor.
Available features include a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, and a dual-screen DVD entertainment system. The SL Premium Package also includes an upgraded Bose audio system.
Interior storage is impressive: eight cupholders plus six bottleholders for a grand total of 14 beverage holders. That’s two beverage slots per passenger in a packed car for those of you doing the math. There is a decent-sized center console that couldn’t ﬁt my purse but could hold some snacks, a cellphone, and a few other small items. The large glove box with organizational pockets might ﬁt a small handbag, and tiered seatback pockets are great for holding kids’ books.
Seating for seven is standard and third-row access is great. Thanks to the new Pathﬁnder’s use of the Inﬁniti JX’s technology, the secondrow seats slide fore and aft about ﬁve inches, and they can tilt forward and slide with a forward-facing, child-safety seat installed in the second row, which creates third-row access. It’s a huge boon for parents of small children. Furthermore,the third row can ﬁt an average-size adult male, and it reclines for added comfort.The second row has a 60/40 split and the third row is split 50/50.
The Pathﬁnder has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the second row’s outboard seats. They’re easy to get to thanks to pliable cushioning. Three top tether anchors are located midway down the second-row seatbacks. The third row doesn’t have any lower Latch anchors (I wish it did), but it does have a tether anchor. Seat belt buckles are on stable bases, making it possible for older children to strap themselves in independently. The National Highway Trafﬁc Safety Administration has given the 2013 Pathﬁnder an overall safety score of four stars of ﬁve. It earned four stars in the frontal crash test and rollover-resistance test. It received ﬁve stars in the side-impact crash test.
The Pathﬁnder SL has standard front-wheeldrive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with traction control, a backup camera with rear parking sensors, and six airbags, including side curtains for all three rows. The standard Easy Fill Tire Alert system includes an individual tire pressure display, which is something I ﬁnd useful because I detest having to ﬁgure out which tire is giving me trouble.
All-wheel-drive is optional.