By on October 23, 2012

If you’re like most Americans, you either drive an SUV or want one. Don’t believe me? One in three vehicles sold on our shores in the past 12 months was an SUV or crossover, despite skyrocketing fuel prices. Of course, those fuel prices mean the demographic of the SUV smorgasbord has shifted from gas-guzzling truck-based off-roaders to unibody “crossovers.” Although Nissan is a little late to the soft-road party, they are countering their tardiness by doubling down on standard towing and fuel economy. What’s the reality and what’s it like to drive? Click through the jump and find out as we go off-roading and tow an Airstream.

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Exterior

Despite having made the transition to unibody construction in 1996 (and back to body-on-frame in 2005) Pathfinders were recognizable as Pathfinders. The 2013 model on the other hand is instantly recognizable as a Nissan, but the Pathfinder lineage is far less obvious. The reason for this of course is that the 2013 model is a clean-sheet design that was penned at the same time as its close cousin the Infiniti JX. Nissan’s first unibody design was an attempt to compete with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the fourth generation Pathfinder has Ford’s Explorer and the GM Lambda triplets in its crosshairs. Mission accomplished.

Interior

The outgoing Pathfinder shared its interior with the Frontier and as a result had a more rugged, lower-rent truck-like interior. The 2013 Pathfinder’s transformation is much like GM’s GMT360 to Lambda transformation. The new Pathfinder has an upscale interior with near-luxury fit and finish and a more sedan-like cockpit. Parts sharing with the Infiniti JX35 is high with air vents, switch gear, seat frames and LCD shared between the two. This top-down parts sharing is good for Pathfinder shoppers, but only time will tell if there is enough differentiation between the Pathfinder and JX to make Infiniti shoppers happy. As with the Infiniti JX, seat comfort declines the further right and rearward you go. The front passenger seat lacks the power lumbar adjustment of the driver’s seat. The second row seats are comfortable, but not as padded as the front seats with cushions designed for children or shorter passengers. As with most three-row crossovers the last row should be reserved for small children, coworkers you hate or your mother-in-law.

Infotainment

For Pathfinder duty, Nissan lifted their corporate infotainment systems without much change. The base $28,270 Pathfinder S combines a 6-speaker audio system and in-dash 6-CD changer. The base model’s glaring omissions include the lack of: Bluetooth, AUX input and a USB/iPod interface. Stepping up one trim-level (to the $31,530 SV) gets the driver a 7-inch LCD, Bluetooth, AUX input and a USB/iPod interface at the cost of the 6-disc changer (all other models get a single disc MP3/CD player.) Hopping up to the SL Premium (Nissan hasn’t released pricing on this one) gets the buyer the same 13-speaker Bose sound system as the mid-level trims of Infiniti JX35, right down to the Bose subwoofer. As long as you don’t need your bass to rattle your windows, the system is impressive.

Should navigation be on your short list, you’ll need to jump up to the $39,170 Platinum. Doing so gets you an 8-inch high-resolution touch-screen display pared with the Bose system and an in-dash DVD player. This Nissan system is one of the more responsive and intuitive systems on the market providing easy iPod/USB integration and an interesting novelty in the automotive world: a navigation joystick/wheel, steering wheel navigation controls and a touchscreen. This allows you to choose whether you enter data on the steering wheel, use the joystick/wheel device or just touch the screen.

Pricing

Nissan has set the starting price for the Pathfinder S (FWD) at $28,270, undercutting all the primary competition. As with most CUVs, beware, prices build quickly. Due to the way Nissan has structured the options list, the minimum point of entry for navigation is $39,170, nearly $4,000 more than an Explorer but only about $1,000 more than a Traverse. Most of the models we had on hand to test were well equipped SL models around $38,000 or fully loaded Platinum models around $44,000.

Drivetrain

Under the hood lies Nissan’s ubiquitous 3.5L V6 tuned to 260HP and 240lb-ft of torque, 5HP and 8lb-ft less than the same engine in the JX35. In addition to being down a few ponies compared to its luxury cousin, it’s also the least powerful in its class. As you would expect from Nissan, power is sent to the front wheels via a CVT, but this one has been revised to handle a 5,000lb tow rating. The new transmission uses a steel chain instead of a steel belt for durability, but importantly the ratios stay more-or-less unchanged. Nissan’s reps confirmed that the transmission is the primary reason for the JX35 and Pathfinder’s different tow ratings.

If towing with a FWD crossover doesn’t sound like fun, $1,600 buys you AWD. The system normally defaults to FWD mode for improved fuel economy but as a (small) nod to the Pathfinder’s history, the system has a lock mode that mechanically connects the front and rear differentials so that power flows 50:50 (front:rear) in all situations. Unlike more traditional transfer case setups, the clutch-pack allows a small amount of slip so the system can be used on dry pavement without binding. Leaving the AWD system in “Auto” keeps power to the front unless fairly significant slippage occurs (in order to improve fuel economy). The result is a decidedly FWD feel under most circumstances.

Drive

The engine right-sizing, CVT and unibody combine to drop the curb weight by 500lbs to 4,149lbs for the base 2WD model to 4,471lbs in the AWD Platinum. The weight reduction and other efficiency changes pay dividends with fuel economy rising from 15/22 and 14/20 (2WD/4WD) to 20/26 and 19/25. Compared to the unibody Explorer, the Nissan bests the Ford by 3MPG in the city and 1 on the highway in 2WD form and 1/2 mpg with AWD. However, if you seek crossover-fuel-sipping-nirvana, look no further than Ford’s 28MPG 2.0L Ecoboost Explorer.

Because the Pathfinder started as a rugged off-road vehicle, Nissan felt it necessary to take us to a cattle ranch to spend some time climbing hills and towing trailers. There are two realities we must keep in mind. First, automakers sometimes go overboard trying to prove that a new vehicle matches the older vehicle’s abilities. Second, the majority of shoppers will never tow or take the vehicle off-road so it really doesn’t matter anyway.

The first I noticed during our romp on the steep grassy hills was: ground clearance has dropped from 9-inches in the 2012 to 6.5 (lower than the Explorer’s 7.6 and the Traverse’s 7.2). Off-roading angles also decrease from 28/23/22 to 14/22/16 (approach/departure/break-over). The result is a Pathfinder that is more stable on-road thanks to a lower center of gravity, but a vehicle that may have difficulties going over the hill and through the woods. Does that matter to anyone? Probably not.

The second thing our adventure demonstrated was: the CVT and final drive ratio favor fuel economy. How so? By skewing the range toward the high-end of the CUV competition. The result is an effective low ratio of 13.5:1 that is notably higher than the Explorer’s 15.2:1 and a higher final gear of 2.0:1 vs the Explorer’s lower 2.2:1. The result is better fuel economy than the Explorer on the highway, but when we encountered steep terrain on the ranch, the Pathfinder felt out of its element and out of breath.

Back on the highway the Pathfinder presents its best argument for success: road manners. The suspension is firm for a crossover but not uncomfortable and was well composed over a variety of broken road surfaces, something that could not be said about the previous generation Pathfinder. Wind and road noise have also been drastically reduced in the cabin giving the Nissan a premium feel not unlike the Buick Enclave.

The towing demonstration was largely ignored by my journalist peers, but my own towing needs caused my interest to be piqued. I was initially concerned that the taller gearing of the CVT and the lower torque rating of the Nissan V6 would be a problem, but I was only half right. Unless you’re towing at capacity in San Francisco, the CVT makes a strangely enjoyable tow partner. Takeoffs are slow due to the gearing choices, and Ford’s Ecoboost V6 feels decidedly more confidant, but the CVT has advantages. When hill climbing it’s easier to maintain a constant speed because the CVT can constantly vary the ratio to keep you from doing the “slow down, down-shift, speed up, up-shift, slow down” ballet that I’m used to when towing with my GMT360 SUV.

While the Pathfinder may have shed much of its heritage in its fourth generation, so has everyone else. Unfortunately, this also means a select few shoppers (like yours truly) that need to tow 6,500lbs regularly with an AWD mid-size SUV are left with the Dodge Durango as your only new car choice in this segment (until Chrysler kills it in 2015). Instead Nissan has delivered exactly what 95% of SUV/CUV shopper want: 20% better fuel economy, some rugged good looks and the ability to handle Tahoe when the ski-bug bites. While I will mourn the loss of the Pathfinder along with a certain segment of rock-crawlers in the square states, you should put the Pathfinder at the top of your shopping list.

Nissan invited me to a local Pathfinder event, paid for the hotel and stuffed us full of food.

Specifications as tested

0-30:3.6 Seconds

0-60: 6.9 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.16 @ 91 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 20.5 MPG over 189 Miles

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64 Comments on “Pre-Production Review: 2013 Nissan Pathfinder...”


  • avatar
    Robstar

    My wife & I were looking something with a light tow rating OK fuel economy & cheap price, about a year ago. We also needed to seat 7. We ended up with a Kia sorrento, which actually looks quite close (spec-wise) to this. Does this offer 7 passenger (or 3rd row) seating as well?

    Our (2011) kia gets about 1-2mpg over what you achieved, but only has a 3500lb tow rating. The interior is probably worse. Our 3.5L v6 is 276hp (and I think 240′ish torque) with a 6 speed auto and 0-60 I think is 7.6. It has very little off-road capability (mentioned many times in the manual IIRC) which doesn’t matter much to us anyhow. Bluetooth & steering wheel audio controls come standard even on the lowest trim (what we bought). Ours is the V6-awd 3.5L.

    This seems like a very close competitor if it offers 3rd row seating as well.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Another jacked-up station wagon with pretensions of butchness. Yawn.

    At this rate, proper station wagons will be back in fashion in another 10-15 years. What goes around, comes around.

    • 0 avatar
      BigMeats

      ‘Proper station wagons’ don’t offer the same visibility or ground clearance. Eventually something will lure me away from pickups and it will have to have….. nah, nothing will ever get me out of pickups.

      Sippy-cars for local scoots, trucks for everything else.
      This Nissan is a nice Enclave-fighter, though.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        When everyone is driving jacked-up vehicles, there is no disadvantage to driving something lower – either way you can’t see squat. This thing has a whole 6.5″ of ground clearance. That might be as much as a whole INCH more than my BMW 328i wagon. Probably about the same as a 328Xi.

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      Yeah, we’ve reinvented the tall, practical station wagon of the 50′s (before they were squished vertically in the 60′s…or was it the late 50′s?). Of course to get there we started with the popularity boom of true off-road capable 4×4′s; then, softened up those; then, went from body on frame to unibody construction, etc.

      And, now, voila, we’ve got the old practical tall station wagon back. But, DANGER WILL ROBINSON, don’t call it a station wagon. Crossover, CUV, whatever, but not station wagon.

      Oh, and don’t forget, now we have to destroy rearward visibility and impair cargo capacity by raising the belt line and smooshing down the roof at the ass end — trying to pretend it’s not a — gasp! — station wagon (which is of course what it is…).

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        “Oh, and don’t forget, now we have to destroy rearward visibility and impair cargo capacity by raising the belt line and smooshing down the roof at the ass end — trying to pretend it’s not a — gasp! — station wagon (which is of course what it is…).”

        EXACTLY. This is the part that bugs me the most. Sheer absurdity.

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    Generally a good review but decidedly short on design critique and interior packaging commentary (perhaps we need to refer to the JX review?). The rear end is troubling aesthetically and the belt line is Hyundai-esque.

    How do these VQ 3.5L engines fare these days? No one was very impressed by the durability in the first generation products as I recall. the ground clearance is somewhat troubling and lower than the old Outbacks and I imagine lower still than the new Outback. Hardly anyone will go offload with these things but I question how well they would fare on unplowed roads in ski country.

    I had a a second gen Pathy from new with the old points and distributor 3.3L that was a beast in the snow and offload but was decidedly crude onroad. Nary a hiccup with that thing over 13 years and 140k miles besides a tendency to eat front rotors. A small SUV in comparison to a lot of modern CUVs but cargo capacity exceeds the newer designs somehow. Traded it in on a big sports sedan earlier this year since the wife has an RX and I still regret it at times.

    In the end, I’m glad that Nissan is keeping the Pathfinder relevant even if it will draw the ire of the B&B.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      I believe that the reviewers of TTAC intentionally keep their design critiques to a minimum. We readers really don’t need to be told if a vehicle looks good or not. We ought to be able to exercise our own preferences without too much hand-holding.
      An arcticle written specifically to critique a design is a different thing – ie. Sajeev’s series.

      • 0 avatar
        GiddyHitch

        EDIT: Wow, I completely whiffed on reading the by-line. I thought this was a review by Michael, not Alex. That explains the lack of design analysis. And the responses by Alex.

        I disagree. I place a value on reading well-reasoned design critiques as it increases my understanding of design principles and sharpens my eye. I am a bigger fan of Robert Cumberford’s design analyses in Automobile than Sajeev’s Vellum Venoms, but it’s the same concept to your point. An ongoing study of design allows one to differentiate between the aesthetically questionable but well resolved design of a Bangle-era BMW versus the typically mundane and unresolved design of similar era Toyota. I have found Michael’s* critiques specifically to be well written and thought they helped round out the review on whole. His opinions often echoed my own, so there is at least one reader out here who will miss them.

      • 0 avatar
        Alex L. Dykes

        We all have varying tastes do I prefer to not add my own commentary on design. I will say if I like it or not, but I’d rather you were your own judge on style.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Your pathfinder had POINTS ignition?! Could you post some pictures of this fascinating beast?

      • 0 avatar

        I had a Japanese 1996 MY car with a conventional distributor. Such things happened. I would not be too amazed at Pathfinder of similar vintage being so equipped. BTW, KIA Rio still ships with a mechanical throttle in 2012 MY.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Pete and Giddy,
      It might have had a distributor, but it didn’t have points.

      It could have had a hall effect pick-up used to fire the coil, but it didn’t have points and condenser like the ones that would leave you stranded in the 1960′s.

      • 0 avatar
        GiddyHitch

        You and gtem are correct – whoops. It had a rotor and cap and I assumed that the contacts within the cap were “points”. My mistake. It was a 1999.5 PF.

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    Totally unimpressed.

  • avatar

    Really what you’ve done here is illustrated the divergence in larger unibody SUVs. The GM Lambdas and the Ford Flex/Lincoln MKT are in essence glorified minivans. Their ground-clearance is too small for any sort of offroading prowess and towing is fairly low on the list of priorities. They really are first-rate people carriers without the unfashionable sliding doors.

    Then you have large unibody vehicles, which is where I would place the Pathfinder. They are often-times stretched versions of smaller crossovers (the Pathfinder and JX are essentially stretched Muranos, which themselves are built on the Altima phatform.) I would also put the Mazda CX-9, Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot in this category. These cars trade some of their space for versatility, and can even employ four-cylinder engines.

    Lastly you have the rugged unibody vehicles with three rows. Usually these are luxury cars, and this subset includes the Acura MDX, Audi Q7, BMW X5, Dodge Durango and Volvo XC90. On the extreme side, the Land Rover LR3/4 feature a hybridized unibody/ladder-frame setup. These vehicles are designed to provide comfort and sophistication while also ensuring their owners that if things get sticky, they’ll come out of it okay. It is usually these unibodies that get V8 or V8-equivalent engines…

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    I am actually a big supporter of CUVs in that they get fairly decent gas mileage and the overwhelming majority of SUV/pickup drivers never hauled, towed anything or ever went off road with them anyway. So we may as well replace those unnecessary and ridiculous gas hogs with something that CAN’T haul, tow or go off-road.

    I am of the camp that believes that a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon can be made into a usable off-road vehicle with about $4,000 in after-market parts. A suburban can be made into a suitable tow vehicle for around $2,000 in after-market parts, or just buy one of the rare 3/4 ton ones to begin with. And since the usual half-ton or compact pickup can’t be used to haul or tow anything anyway, a 3/4 ton or 1 ton pickup can be bought for as little as a $5,000 premium.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “One in three vehicles sold on our shores in the past 12 months was an SUV or crossover, despite skyrocketing fuel prices.”

    Ya hear that, Volkswagen? Get that dull-looking, boring three-row Traverse/Explorer/Pathfinder competitor to market, pronto. You’ll sell 30,000 in the first year, easily.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      Well, look at that, they listened!

      Volkswagen plans to build new SUV in U.S.

      http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20121024/AUTO0104/210240375/1148/AUTO01/Volkswagen-plans-build-new-SUV-U-S-

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Alex, Jalopnik’s Alex said the worst part of the interior was the one you’ll touch the most: the steering wheel, which he called “cheap, flimsy” and “rubbery.” Was the tiller really that bad, in your opinion?

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Not at all, I found the steering wheel (which is shared with the JX35) to be thin but comfortable. Steering feel is light and vague (like all CUVs) but I had no complaints about the wheel itself. The airbag cover is decidedly average.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    that, er.. “SUV” is a station wagon. an honest and true station wagon.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    As for design aesthetic, I’m glad they got rid of that damn vertical rear door handle that the Pathfinder (and Armada) had. The original idea was to make the original 4-door Pathfinder look like a 2-door SUV. Why it evolved in the design language over the generations is a mystery to me.

    The Infiniti QX56 prior generations had the vertical rear door handle too because they were based on the Armada. The new QX56 is based on the Nissan Patrol, however, and has normal door handles.

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      I never found the “hidden handle” to be particularly annoying and even found it somewhat endearing. The QX56 on the other hand is very annoying and not endearing.

      • 0 avatar

        I also thought the vertical door-handle looked particularly neat, especially because the inverted C-pillar made for one especially-tidy door-profile. The other way to do this is on an SUV is to make the rear doors’ profiles completely vertical (a la the Cadillac Escalade ESV, Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon)…

        I’m not sure what’s to come of the next Armada, but the vertical door-handle will likely be preserved on the XTerra.

  • avatar
    86er

    “If you’re like most Americans, you either drive an SUV or want one. Don’t believe me? One in three vehicles sold on our shores in the past 12 months was an SUV or crossover, despite skyrocketing fuel prices.”

    I’ll be the first to admit that math is not my strong suit, but how does 33% translate into “most”?

  • avatar
    mcarr

    This has actually piqued my interest! I’m in the market for a vehicle that can carry 6 people on occasion while getting the best mileage possible, and having AWD. The above combo getting 25mpg is actually a rare beast, so I will have to give this consideration when it comes out. I don’t like CVT’s but maybe I could live with this one. I don’t need it to tow, or go off road because I have a proper truck for such tasks.

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    Though I intensely loathe most SUVs and Crossovers, I will admit that this one is fairly nice looking. It’s nowhere near as overstyled as many cars, even in this class. That’s a surprise considering the Infiniti JX exists

  • avatar
    Jonathan H.

    I understand the market forces dictating the move to CUV status but they could have made it look a little less mommymobile. Definitely not worthy of the Pathfinder name. The Explorer did a good job transitioning to unibody without neutering the appearance in the process. The girlfriend is in the market for a replacement for her ’06 Explorer and the Pathfinder was on the list until she saw the pictures of the 2013. The selection of 2012 models is getting pretty thin so it’s looking like the 4Runner is at the top of her list now.

    • 0 avatar
      luvmyv8

      It’s not a bad choice either…. I have a ’12 4Runner SR5. I purposely went with it because of the body on frame design; I’m a photographer and I love the outdoors, so a rugged vehicle is a must and it performs great in the rough. I’ve got 8200 miles on mine with no problems. Also the 1GRFE 4.0L V6 moves it along quite well with no fuss, it has 270 hp. MPG is about 20 or so, reasonable. The one thing that I appreciate but hope to never use are all the airbags in it; curtain airbags, seat airbags and even a knee airbag.

  • avatar
    WRohrl

    Alex, our VW Touareg TDI has a 7000lb tow rating. Granted it does not have the 3rd row of the Durango but definitely gets better gas mileage. And with 406 torques and an 8-speed tranny should seem to have no issues. (at least relating to towing!)

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      WRohrl,

      The Touareg TDI is on the short list for replacing the GMT360.

      • 0 avatar
        WRohrl

        I understand the points below and agree that I would not go anywhere near the towing limits in the Touareg especially with a long load. HOWEVER, if it comes down to towing something smaller, I’d rather tow a 3000lb load with something rated for 7000 than with something rated for 3500.

        In any case we didn’t buy it for the tow rating, I was just wanting to point out that the Durango is not the option with the highest rating…

        Alex, if you do look at the T-Reg I urge you to at least look at the Lux Spec. The wife took one look at the chocolate leather and that was when the checkbook came out. The non-perfed leather was the other tipping point vs the perforated leatherette in regard to cleanability.

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      I’d be vary wary of towing anything longer than 20ft with a short wheelbase of a Touareg. No matter how good the hitch, you’re going to get some white knuckle sway. Ask me how I know, which is why I have an F-150 now.

      • 0 avatar
        Grumpy

        Totally agree and was waiting for someone to bring this up. I’ve towed with some very questionable combinations–like a 4,000 lb. trailer and a front wheel drive minivan and the same trailer with a second generation Pathfinder, and got away with it, but I now know better.

        Towing a trailer that is both larger and heavier than the tow vehicle means that the tail will always be trying to wag the dog, and no matter what hitch combo you use that instability really cannot be made stable.

        The best defence is a long wheelbase heavy duty tow vehicle that will resist the trailers desire to push it’s weight around and go its own direction.

        If you are willing to pony up for a Touareg TDI, you should consider a long wheelbase 3/4 ton pickup. An F250 or even F350 with the diesel or similar competitor would be good. A big pickup may not be your vehicle of choice for commuting, but towing with much less exposes your family to unnecessary risk of highway mayhem.

      • 0 avatar
        jco

        see, this is the kind of thing that, having towed extensively, worries me about CUVs and towing. I have a 4Runner, which does an admirable job towing. but I just do not like the idea of pulling anything over like a ton with a transverse V6/CVT/unibody vehicle. can the CVT handle the stress/heat? what about having to lock it into a lower gear to traverse a long 8% grade? what about putting that much weight behind the vehicle? can the rear suspension handle it?

        having a 2000lb tow rating is one thing, but when you rate it to tow 5,000lbs, that’s kind of a big deal. you’re talking boats, enclosed trailers, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      If you’re looking for a third row, the Audi Q7 has a 6600 lb tow rating. It is available with the TDI as well and with an 8-speed auto in the right model years. It’s a little more expensive though.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    Towing an airstream and off-loading…surely, you jest.

    People who buy these don’t tow anyway. It’s been a while since I’ve seen anyone tow anything other than a boat with an SUV/CUV. We all know, and people who tow know, if you need to tow, you buy a truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      My father-in-law has an installation business and long ago discovered that a body-on-frame minivan was the ideal two vehicle. You can jam people inside more comfortably and a 14-20 foot utility trailer is more convenient that a pickup truck or full-size fan. When the BOF minivan died the transition was to a BOF SUV. The GMT360s are strangely ideal tow vehicles when equipped with the load leveling rear suspension. The mid-sized SUV with a load leveling rear suspension is good for that 5,000-7,500 towing range where you don’t need a pickup truck’s 10,000+ tow rating and you don’t want something that big or something with a cargo area that’s not part of the vehicle. We have towed the snot out of our GMT360 because we built our own home and 100% of everything that came in or went out did so in a utility trailer that was routinely at capacity. Concrete, cinder blocks, bricks, lumber, windows, doors, shingles, everything arrived pulled by the SUV. Still, we’re talking the 1% of shoppers.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        No such thing as a BOF minivan, at least that was sold in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        200k-min

        My father also loved the BOF minivans. (Ford Aerostar and Chevy Astro for people old enough to remember.) He wouldn’t consider a Caravan because they “couldn’t tow.” When those went away he went to SUV’s but laments them and still raves about his Aerostars (had 3 of them)

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        200k-min, the Aerostar and GM twins were unibody not BOF, No such BOF minivan animal was ever sold in the US. Yes they have “frame rails” underneath the floor but they are welded to said floor.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      The Good Sam club may encircle you with their Surburbans ;). I spend too much time on I-95, see Suburbans hauling camping trailers; however, the majority of campers I see are hauled by trucks. In horse country people will haul horse trailers with Suburbans, Grand Cherokees, HD trucks, and duallies. Some calculation of price, prestige, and hauling capacity is occurring there.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised the anti-crossover meme hasn’t reared its ugly head in this post. “No more crossovers,” they all say. “We should all be driving around lifted Ford Rangers with manual transmissions when we need to haul stuff, and Mazda Miatas when we don’t.”

    Yes, well…

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      I drive an Escape; it doesn’t do one thing exceptionally well but does a lot of things very, very well. Some off-roading capability to get to the trout stream, enough hauling room for Ikea runs, and enough power to go when I need/want to. Easy ingress/egress for baby seats and the elderly. Good enough for me. Haters gonna hate, mowers gonna mow.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Bingo. CUVs are great all-around tools for a lot of people. The RAV4, Forester, and last Escape will do things off road that would badly damage the Mazda6 wagon we lament not getting in the US.

        Unfortunately, it looks like they took most of the ground clearance away from the new Escape. That sucker is going to scrape on everything en route to the trout stream.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Grammar complaint here. Will people stop using the collective “we” in their writings? I might think you’re brilliant or use Rube Goldberg levels of contorted logic, but that’s just me; singular person. With this smart, funny, and sometimes contentious bunch; I doubt “we” all completely agree with anything. Rant off, back to your regular scheduled programming.

  • avatar
    Tinker

    “final gear of 2.1:1 vs the Explorer’s lower 2.1:1.” Ah? Just what is this meant to to say? So for equal values of 2.1, they are the same, but for sufficiently LARGE values of 2.1 being compared to sufficiently SMALL values of 2.1, they’re not?

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    It’s shameful that they make you purchase the top of the line vehicle just to get the nav system. Say what you want about american brands, but most will let you get the technology you want (i.e. nav) on a lower level model.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    I must not be like most Americans since I don’t drive an SUV and plan to keep it that way. If I hadn’t bought my Infiniti G37 coupe five years ago, I would be looking hard at a Subaru BRZ.

    The problem with an SUV is that it does nothing well. If we buy something big, it will be an all wheel drive van with a 5,000 lb towing capacity. Such a vehicle can haul a loaded double horse trailer, has room for riding lawn mowers and the like, will be a place to sleep when we get too old for a tent, and can get around before snow plows clear the roads.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Can you buy a BOF 4WD van?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The GM 1/2 ton vans are available with AWD.

        There are also some aftermarket companies that will add a 4WD system for your van. It isn’t cheap, but neither is a 3/4 ton Suburban 4×4.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Yes, I believe the Chevy Express and the GMC Savana are the last ones left. The long-departed Chevy Astro/GMC Safari was BOF and available with 4WD. The long-departed Ford Aerostar was BOF and available with 4WD.

        The Ford Econoline/E-Series is RWD. The Mercedes/Dodge Sprinter is RWD. The Nissan NV is RWD (not sure why, it’s based on the Titan chassis). The new E-series replacement, the Ford Transit/T-Series (also known as the Tourneo in Europe as a passenger vehicle) will be available with AWD, but is unibody.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Corntrollio, The current GM vans are the only factory made 4wd van sold in the US ever. The Astro and Aerostar were unitized construction not BOF. Yes they have full length rails but they are made of stamped sheet metal and welded to the floor which forms the top side of the box section.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    Fortunately the Frontier based Xterra is still available for those who crave a body on frame truck based RWD SUV. Unfortunately, the tow rating is down from the 6,500 pound capacity of the Frontier to 5,000 lbs for the Xterra. Tow capacity and durability still do matter for some of us. My Frontier crew cab fits the bill nicely.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    Wow, that thing is ugly. I’m sure it’ll sell because it’s a CUV, but Nissan isn’t making me want to spend my money based on their designs. Then again I’m not into large CUV’s/SUV’s. Guess I’m not in that 33% of Americans.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Hyundai called and wants there exterior stylist back.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    Thank God I still have my hardbody Pathfinder. It may have 222,240 miles on it, and shy a hundred horsepower or so, but it does just fine on the smooth roads, at least I can run it through something bigger than a pothole.

    Bad on gas? Sure it’s bad on gas. But with my 5-speed, I can easy pull 24 to 25mpg on the highway–if I keep my foot out of it.

    I can’t wait to see one of these things buried up to it’s belly button out at the dunes or drowned in a creek up in the hills. I SINCERELY hope I get to pull one out of a snowbank with my ’95. I will be laughing my ass off.

    This new Pathfinder is the moral equivalent of taking a fella’s favorite porn star, giving her a sex change and sticking her out on national TV as a PETA spokes(man). Haters gotta hate? Oh very yes, we hate.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    My wife put 177k on her ’99 Pathefinder and I drove an ’04 for a couple of years, so I have been watching Nissan’s transformation of this iconic truck into a CUV with keen interest. Like Ford, they appear to understand that off-roading prowess is less important to customers than being a family hauler with towing capacity while being an alternative to a minivan. Off-roaders still have the very capable Xterra to chose from Nissan’s lineup, and this new Pathfinder should be quite competitive in the market where the real money is.

    PS — Great video review Alex. I continue to be impressed at how much information you convey in about 10 minutes while still being entertaining. You represent the viewpoint of the common man much better than any of the other on-line reviewers, nicely balancing performance and driveability with the stuff that most of us really care about, which is controls, comfort, and utility.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    My parents have an 08 Pathfinder currently, and I can tell you just from photos that this will be a better car. I’ve driven their Pathfinder and found it much too truck-like and unwieldy. It felt as though I was driving something much larger/ponderous than I was (though the 3rd gen Path is very tall). It drove more poorly than a late 90s Montero I test drove once.

    The Pathfinder interior was not luxurious, the ride unrefined, panel gaps too large, engine too loud, V8 thirst with V6 power, etc.

    The WORST thing about their Pathfinder by a mile though, are the interior trim rattles. They’re constant and difficult to find.


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