It is new. Well, not exactly new because the Nissan Pathfinder has been available for several years. Now, there is a new and more efficient transmission that saves on fuel as well as the use of a 3.5 liter V-6 that has plenty of power. It sits on a larger platform than before. The 2013 Pathfinder does not squeeze all the passengers shoulder-to-shoulder because it is longer and wider than the previous model.
The 3.5-liter V-6 engine is being used in the Nissan Altima and provides 260 horsepower. Although it is not the most efficient or powerful engine in the full-size SUV class, it certainly does its job well. There is also only one option for a transmission. It is new and more fuel-efficient. Nissan is happy with putting their CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) in a number of their vehicles and the match-up with the engine works well.
A large group of automotive journalists were invited out to Northern California a few months ago. The new 2013 Nissan Pathfinder was one of the featured vehicles for our test-drive. We took it along highways and through the mountains. We towed large and small trailers. We had press briefings and we talked one-on-one with the engineers and designers. Bottom line: this is really a great family vehicle.
The 2013 Pathfinder is noticeably larger than before. It really seats seven adults comfortably, without being squished together. There are three rows of seating and this new model adds 5 inches to the length and 4 inches to the width. That does not sound like much until you think about how much an inch or two can help in knee and leg room instead of being pushed back into the seat.
The extra inches in width and length allowed the engineers to allow 7 more inches in the second row. That works well if there are only children in the third row because the second row seats must be shoved back to get those extra inches. For cargo purposes, however, those extra inches increase the interior room a lot. The second and third row seats fold flat for ease in carrying cargo.
Any discussion about seats in the Pathfinder must include the easy access to the third row seating. Typically, there could be a baby car seat fastened in that second row seat. Nissan has designed it so that the car seat does not have to be removed. A simple lever action and the second row seat moves forward and tilts just enough so that an adult-sized passenger can access the third row area. A simple push and the second row seat with the baby car seat moves easily back into position.
The Nissan Pathfinder is certainly bigger on the inside, but it is also big on the outside. It has a larger stance and appearance. It has a larger turning radius. The front bumper pushes outward. There is a trapezoid styled grill that features thick chrome bars. The headlamps are large and angled.
The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder is capable and efficient. Similar to other manufacturers, Nissan provides a much quieter cabin than previous models. All seven passengers can actually talk without raising their voices significantly.
The Pathfinder is a four-wheel-drive capable vehicle. There is a large dial located on the center console. It offers three choices: front-wheel drive, automatic torque distribution, and four-wheel-drive lock. In most driving, the front-wheel drive will be more than adequate. The automatic torque pushes the driving mode onto the rear wheels if the front ones slip. This is good for sand or ice conditions. The four-wheel-lock mode is useful for steep hills and slow going through creek beds or slightly rocky conditions.
Nissan provided a large area on the northern edge of Napa Valley. We crossed through stream beds, wound up a fairly steep hillside, and navigated slowly down the hill towards the base area. It was a man-made dirt road. Approaching the summit, it was steep enough that only blue sky was seen out the front windshield until we leveled off. This is not designed to be a severe rock climber of a vehicle, but it is highly capable in almost all other conditions.
With the movement towards more efficient engines that save on fuel and offer more power, we expect Nissan to move away from their 3.5 liter V-6 sooner rather than later. Meantime, this SUV is a good choice for capability and passenger comfort in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Visit a Nissan dealership and check out the new 2013 Pathfinder yourself.