The Truth About Cars » pathfinder http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 12 Dec 2014 00:01:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » pathfinder http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Review: 2013 Infiniti JX35 (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/review-2013-infiniti-jx35-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/review-2013-infiniti-jx35-video/#comments Fri, 23 Nov 2012 19:11:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=465635 So you think you need to carry seven people in comfort with decent economy but you don’t want to buy a minivan? Enter the three-row crossover. Thanks to stronger fuel economy regulations there are plenty of three-row CUVs to choose from, but you want something with a better brand name under 55-large, what does that […]

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So you think you need to carry seven people in comfort with decent economy but you don’t want to buy a minivan? Enter the three-row crossover. Thanks to stronger fuel economy regulations there are plenty of three-row CUVs to choose from, but you want something with a better brand name under 55-large, what does that do to the playing field? You’re left with the Lincoln MKT, Acura MDX, Volvo XC90, Buick Enclave and the newcomer in this phone booth sized segment: the 2013 Infiniti JX35. The new soft-roader Infiniti is already off to a good start coming in third in sales to the Enclave and MDX despite sales starting in April of this year. What’s it like to live with for a week and how does it stack up? Click through the jump to find out.

Before we dive into the JX, let’s look at the competition. The Volvo XC90 arguably started this segment in 2003 by jacking an S80 up a few inches and adding a third row. In 2006 Acura followed their lead by adding a third row to the Accord-based MDX. Buick got in on the party with their minivan-like Enclave in 2008 and Lincoln with their seemingly hearse-themed MKT in 2010. What do these CUVs have in common? They all have six cylinder engines under the hood and they are all front wheel drive vehicles with optional all wheel locomotion. Before Audi fans start flaming me, I left the Q7 out due to its SUV-like design, RWD biased Quattro system,  larger price tag, and  decidedly SUV-like 5,600lb curb weight.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

Infiniti’s bulbous styling may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a distinctive island in a sea of me-too crossovers. This new take on Infiniti’s “box fish” style isn’t as striking (or polarizing) as when the M debuted in 2010. On the bright side,  now that the design has aged, general opinion in my informal lunch group was overwhelmingly positive. Something I couldn’t say about the 2010 M. Despite heavy parts sharing with the new Pathfinder, the JX is better distinguished than the former generation QX/Armada was and indeed better differentiated than the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave. The MKT looks just looks downright peculiar front the front with the new Lincoln grille grafted on and the side profile just reminds me of an old station wagon based hearse from the 1970s. The MDX is quite possibly the best looking Acura available at the moment despite the rather prominent Acura beak on the grille. Meanwhile the XC90 is the only vehicle in this bunch that’s not based on a mass market vehicle or platform. While that does mean there isn’t anything on the road that looks related, the design is only modern when parked by itself. I still have a soft spot for the XC90’s upright grille and sexy Swedish hips, but this is one warhorse that should have been sent to the glue factory 5 years ago.

Interior

The JX35’s cabin is covered in soft-touch plastics, leather and acres of highly polished wood trim, just as you expect from Infiniti. In this segment, if you want an interior that doesn’t share parts with a mass-market brand, you’re again limited to the XC90 as every other design team had access to a corporate parts bin. Keeping this in mind, Nissan/Infiniti’s parts bin is a nicer place to spend time than GM’s button-bank. The new Enclave has a very competitive interior, but some of the parts choices fail to blend while the JX is a sea of harmony. Indeed one might say the Pathfinder borrows Infiniti parts and not the other way around. This top-down parts sharing is good for Pathfinder shoppers, but only time will tell if there is enough differentiation to make Infiniti shoppers happy. The XC90’s interior is still competitive thanks to continual tweaks over the past ten years, but that can’t forgive the lack of even a modest refresh from the Swedes.

As with the Pathfinder, 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. If third row comfort is critical, go back to looking at that QX56 or Escalade, as with most three-row crossovers the JX’s last row should be reserved for coworkers you hate or your mother-in-law. If you regularly carry passengers and progeny in child seats, the JX shares the sliding middle seat design with the Pathfinder allowing a child seat to stay strapped in while passengers climb into the third row.

Infotainment & Gadgets

The standard 7-inch infotainment screen does everything but navigation. iDevice/USB integration is of course standard as is Bluetooth and a 6-speaker audio system with a single disc CD player and XM radio. Opting for the $4,950 “premium package” gets you Infiniti’s easy to use navigation system with a high-resolution 8-inch touchscreen, a 13-speaker Bose sound system, voice control, and Infiniti’s slick all-around camera system. The system uses four cameras and some trick processing to stitch images together to form an “aerial view” making easy work of tight parking situations.

Should you desire the latest in nannies, Infiniti is happy to oblige with radar cruise control, collision warning and prevention, lane departure warning and prevention and an accelerator pedal that fights back. The accelerator pedal is perhaps the nanny that people find the most fault with, despite crossovers not being “driver’s cars.” The feature can be disabled, but left on it will fight your right foot, forcing the pedal back at you if you’re driving uneconomically, if it thinks you are getting too close to a car, or if it feels like it needs to stop the car NOW. While I dislike the thought of a car that drives for me, honestly at least half the drivers on the road need this pedal stat. Not that I condone distracted driving, but if you feel the need to text and drive, the JX helps you accomplish the feat more safely.

Lincoln’s MKT slots in just behind the Infiniti on the gadget tally thanks to Ford’s bevy of collision avoidance options, inflating seatbelts, and the slow but feature-rich MyLincon Touch system. Meanwhile the Enclave’s new Intellilink touchscreen system is sharp, responsive and has more natural voice commands than SYNC. Better yet, Buick’s system is standard on all Enclave models. The MDX puts on a good fight, but Acura’s tech suffers from old school graphics and a confusing control joystick despite being the only other entry to offer voice commands for your USB/iDevice music player. The XC90 has finally been updated to offer the basic infotainment features you would expect from a luxury vehicle including Bluetooth, USB/iDevice integration and blind spot notification, but that’s where the goodies stop. The XC90 still uses Volvo’s “olde” pop-up navigation system from 1999 and cannot be had with radar cruise control, pedestrian and obstacle detection, and a myriad of other features found in the smaller XC60.

Drivetrain

The JX shares its 3.5L VQ-series V6 with the Pathfinder and everything from the Altima to the Quest. In the JX, the engine puts out 265HP at 6,400RPM and 248lb-ft at 4,400RPM, a mild bump over the Pathfinder but notably lower than the Maxima’s 290HP/261lb-ft tune. Like the Pathfinder, the JX sends power either the front wheels or to all four via a Haldex-style AWD system, but this is where the similarities end. While the Pathfinder uses an all-new heavy-duty continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a chain, the JX35 still uses the second-generation Xtronic CVT shared with the Muran0.

When it comes to towing, transmissions choices are important, but so are chassis and suspension design. In the case of the JX, we can logically infer the lack of the Pathfinder’s heavy-duty CVT is the reason for the reduced 3,500lb towing capacity. Meanwhile the Enclave and MKT will haul 4,500lbs while the XC90 and MDX tie at 5,000lbs. Of course, I seem to be the only one who ever tows with a mid-size SUV so this is probably the least important part of this review. That being said, the XC90 despite being down on power would be my towing partner of choice because it has an available load leveling rear suspension.

Drive

Out on the road the JX35 is as nimble as a tall 4,500lb vehicle can be. While the handling crown in this segment still goes to the MDX, thanks to Acura’s SH-AWD system, the JX can handle winding roads faster than your third row passengers will tolerate. The JX’s steering is moderately quick, fairly firm and as numb as any of the other luxury crossovers. Should you be on your own after the school run, the JX’s well sorted suspension will soak up the ruts should you decide that gravel road shortcut you like.

Front wheel drive JX models suffer from mild torque steer from a stand still but once underway the pulling stops and the JX settles down. Opting for the AWD system quells the torque steer daemon and is a further differentiator from the Pathfinder cousin. The Pathfinder’s AWD system allows the driver to lock the system in FWD mode for better economy, lock the center coupling for better grip, or allow the system to decide when to send power to the rear. Instead the AWD system in the JX always operates in Auto mode, which is just as well since I suspect no luxury SUV or CUV shopper will ever notice the difference.

The biggest difference between the other luxury CUVs and the JX35 is the transmission. The effective ratio spread on the JX35’s transmission isn’t as broad as the 6-speed units used in the competition and seemed to be skewed to the higher end of the ratio spectrum for fuel economy. This is most obvious when you look at the JX35’s relatively slow 3.7-second 0-30 time, but thanks to the infinite ratios the JX catches up to the rest of the pack crossing 60MPH in 7 seconds even. Despite the 0-30 sloth, my  real-world fuel economy tests seem to be kind to CVT equipped vehicles with the JX besting its 20MPG combined EPA score by 7/10ths of an MPG over a week. Meanwhile the other CUVs averaged 1-2MPG below their combined figures for me. So many publications spout their MPG figures as gospel, but as with 0-60 times, observed fuel economy is only as good as the driver, driving style and commute.

The JX represents an interesting move for the brand I like to think of as “the Japanese BMW.” But putting practicality and economy before performance they have created a most un-Infiniti crossover. The combination of a nearly perfect interior, smooth CVT and 32% better fuel economy than Infiniti’s QX SUV make a compelling argument for the JX35. While the Enclave plays to a slightly different demographic, MDX shoppers would do well to put the JX on their short list as it is quite possibly the best three-row luxury crossover in America.

 

Infiniti provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.7 Seconds

0-60: 7 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.4 @ 90 MPH

 Average Fuel Economy: 20.7 MPG over 765 miles

2013 Infiniti JX35, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of Infiniti 2013 Infiniti JX35, Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Infiniti 2013 Infiniti JX35, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of Infiniti 2013 Infiniti JX35, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of Infiniti 2013 Infiniti JX35, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Infiniti 2013 Infiniti JX35, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Infiniti 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, center console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, rear controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, third row seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, gauge cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Navigation and Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, Cargo Area,  Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, Cargo Area,  Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Engine, 3.5L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Engine, 3.5L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

 

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Pre-Production Review: 2013 Nissan Pathfinder http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/pre-production-review-2013-nissan-pathfinder/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/pre-production-review-2013-nissan-pathfinder/#comments Tue, 23 Oct 2012 18:46:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=464554 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 […]

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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.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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

2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, Dashobard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, AWD selector, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, Dashobard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, Dashobard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, Dashobard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, 2nd row seating, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, 3rd row, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, cargo area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, cargo area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, cargo area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, cargo area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Exterior, rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, HVAC/Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, display audio screen, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, display audio screen, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, display audio screen, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, display audio screen, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, inftiainment controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Interior, console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, Engine, 3.6L V6, Picture Courtesy of Nissan 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, offroad, Picture Courtesy of Nissan Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Piston Slap: A Lack of H-Town Heating http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/piston-slap-a-lack-of-h-town-heating/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/piston-slap-a-lack-of-h-town-heating/#comments Mon, 20 Feb 2012 15:08:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=431714   TTAC commentator kericf writes: Sajeev, I have been a previous emailer with some questions about my Rodeo.  Now I turn to you in need of help with my wife’s 2005 Nissan Pathfinder (115k miles).  The HVAC system doesn’t emit heat properly.  A google search of the problem reveals I am certainly NOT the only […]

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TTAC commentator kericf writes:

Sajeev,

I have been a previous emailer with some questions about my Rodeo.  Now I turn to you in need of help with my wife’s 2005 Nissan Pathfinder (115k miles).  The HVAC system doesn’t emit heat properly.  A google search of the problem reveals I am certainly NOT the only person dealing with this problem.

We bought the car used about 4 years ago with 40k on the clock.  It is the SE model with the rear ventilation and Auto Climate control.  Since the beginning we have had small issues here and there.  At first the passenger side blend motor went out.  I located a service bulletin related to it online and made the repair myself.  Then the blower motor stopped working.  The blower motor resistor pack went bad (aparently a running problem of Pathfinders past and present).  Easy fix, almost like Nissan expected it to go bad as it was right there in the open under the dash.  In fact, most everything I have had to fix on the car has a flap or panel that was right in front of the part that went bad.  Like they almost know what you will have to replace and make a convenient way for you to do it.  The most difficult maintenance I’ve had to do involved changing spark plugs, which you had to remove the intake manifold to do.

A month or so ago we noticed that the heater wasn’t working properly.  It would blow heat for a few seconds but then the air would get cool if the fan was set on anything other than low.  On low you could feel very hot air coming out, but as soon as you turn the fan up it dissipated.  Usually the heater is very powerful, but living in Houston we don’t use it that often so I’m not sure when the problem started exactly.  The car also began to run very cool.  It never had heated to normal, but now it was running about a quarter on the temp gage.

From online forums I have found fixes ranging from air in the cooling system, bad thermostats, to messed up radiators leaking coolant into the transmission cooling coils, to heater core failures or leaks.  Many of the forums recommend just trying to purge all the air out of the system.  Since the car was running so cool I went with bad thermostat and replaced it and flushed and changed the coolant.  I let the car run with the front end elevated about 30 minutes to purge air out of the system.  Some forums suggested you have to vary the throttle for about 30 mintues to really purge it though because there is a flow issue before the heater core where air tends to get trapped.  I just let it idle for 30 minutes.  The temp is now running closer to normal but the HVAC system still isn’t blowing hot air.  Before I spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out where the problem is I figured I would give the B&B a shot.  I don’t think I have a bad radiator because I’m not experiencing transmission problems that should be a result of gunked tranny fluid and I didn’t notice any discoloration on the flushed coolant to indicate transmission fluid was mixing.

Any help is greatly appreciated.  I hope you get more emails from readers because the Piston Slap columns are some of my favorites.

Sajeev answers:

Great question, well thought out and explained.  And even though you live in Houston and have a heating concern, this leaves very little room for TTAC-branded snark! I use my heater on a regular basis, as cool weather and 100% humidity is like taking a cold shower the moment you walk outside!

It’s hard to know for sure, but I see two potential problems.

Not very likely: bad heater core.  It could be clogged to the point where no coolant enters the core, and one way to know for sure is to feel the inlet hose temperature relative to the outlet hose temperature. With gloves or something else that keeps you from burning your skin, son!  That said, both hoses should have about the same temperature, if the outlet hose is significantly cooler, you found your problem.

More likely: you didn’t bleed the system properly. This is where I should snark!  I cruised the forums and I see several methods to bleed the system, and what you did won’t cut it.  Often there is another vent hole, hose to pinch, etc and only the factory service instructions will help here. I don’t see a conclusive answer, but no matter what, I see alternatives you haven’t performed. And sometimes all I need to do is cast enough doubt in your mind to make you reconsider your position.

Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

Maybe this goes without saying, but always run your heater when bleeding the cooling system, otherwise the air will get caught in the heater core! And there it is.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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