By on April 4, 2015

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Before you read this road test of the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder, I must write that it isn’t as comprehensive as I want it to be, even though I put well over 1,000 miles on it. There was supposed to be a road trip from San Jose to Lake Arrowhead with at least three other people on board. They were supposed to critique the car’s features, evaluate the interior comfort during the trip, and simulate the amount of stress that most families would put on a seven-passenger crossover. It wasn’t meant to be, though, with all three bailing out with various reasons, from studying to the CPA exam (a very valid excuse) to needing to visit family (again, a valid excuse) to saying they would come if the destination was changed to Santa Barbara (not a valid excuse and grounds for a passive-aggressive e-mail).

Such an experience was supposed to make up for the fact that actual, live families would potentially read this review of the Pathfinder and seriously regard what I, a childless, flip-flops-wearing, Gran Turismo-playing millennial, wrote about their possible next family car. “Oh, he actually carted around 4 full-size adults for over 1,000 miles rather than using it alone on his daily commute,” they would think, “This test really simulated family use. He probably even yelled at the back seat passengers to turn their music down.” Unfortunately, I never got my chance. Instead, the long trip consisted of tuning into Christian rock stations throughout the Central Valley while trying to find an alternative rock station, until I got to Pasadena, where I began loudly complaining to myself about traffic in Southern California.

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But enough about Southern California traffic (and I could really go on), I must discuss the history Pathfinder nameplate. In 1985, Nissan debuted the Pathfinder, which was intended to compete with the Jeep Cherokee and Toyota 4Runner, though it was only available with two doors at launch. It was a very capable vehicle off-road and was built on a truck platform. It eventually gained two extra doors as well as a third seat in later generations while retaining the off-road capability of the original. The last-generation Pathfinder was even available with a V-8. But it became difficult to market as a family vehicle due to its body-on-frame construction, which didn’t help its fuel economy and limited interior space.

Other car platform-based seven-passenger family crossovers like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Mazda CX-9 were taking away sales from truck-based SUVs like the Pathfinder. The Pathfinder needed to be significantly updated for better fuel economy and better internal packaging for the needs of most families, many of whom didn’t need the extensive off-road and towing capabilities of the old Pathfinder.

As a result, my 2015 Pathfinder 4×4 test car is completely different from the old Pathfinder. It’s based on the same platform as the Murano and Altima. It handles better than the old truck-based Pathfinder and gets significantly better fuel economy largely due to its much lower weight. Its door handles aren’t on the C-pillar. The exterior design is a lot cleaner and a lot more rounded. The interior is a much nicer place to be and has more space to move around in. The transmission is continuously variable rather than having actual gears. The competition is now vehicles like the Pilot and Highlander rather than the 4Runner and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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Since I spent well over 1,000 miles in the driver’s seat, I’m going to first focus on comfort. As potential Pathfinder buyers will be spending a good deal of time behind the wheel, driving the kids to numerous activities like fencing and jai alai (kids really need to stand out for those college apps) and taking long road trips (jai alai tournaments are perhaps very few and far between), I can definitively write that the front driver’s seat of the Pathfinder is a satisfying place. There’s no other way I could have lasted six hours straight driving back from San Bernardino to San Jose without a long pause. Some sections of highways I drove on were very bumpy, yet the Pathfinder’s ride soaked up the bumps and didn’t provide a jarring experience. During the trip, I didn’t find out myself shifting around in the seat after 300 miles like I would in other cars. When I arrived home, I didn’t feel stiff and felt I had the energy to do things.

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The back seat isn’t such a bad place either. There’s an easily accessible 120V power outlet for plugging in a laptop or other equipment and the second row can also control its temperature. It’s possible to recline the seats and relax. I wouldn’t recommend the second row for people well above six feet since there wouldn’t be enough legroom for them. Meanwhile, the third seat is strictly for two people who haven’t hit their growth spurt. Anyone above 5 feet and 5 inches would have a rough time sitting in the third seat after 90 minutes. Extra legroom can be derived by moving up the middle row, but then adults in the middle row would lose plenty of legroom and become uncomfortable too. All passengers in the back have their own air vents, so there’ll little question of keeping cool during the summer.

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When it comes to cargo capacity, with the third row up, there’s enough room for two large suitcases and one airplane carry-on bag. There is some extra space for miscellaneous objects below the trunk which can accommodate two small backpacks. With the third row folded down, the cargo capacity substantially increases, making the Pathfinder a good match for four to five person road trips. The middle row folds down too, so the car can fit long surfboards and bikes inside rather than affixing them to the roof or an attachment to the tow hitch. Furthermore, the spare tire is mounted underneath the car behind the tow hitch, not impeding the interior cargo space.

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To move all 4,500 pounds of the car, Nissan equipped the Pathfinder with the 3.5-liter V-6 which makes 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, which is right in line with the V-6 options of the Pilot, Highlander, Kia Sorento, and Santa Fe. Unlike the competition, the Pathfinder’s V-6 is pared to a CVT, which helps considerably with the fuel economy numbers. The powertrain had no problem keeping up the very fast traffic on Interstate 5, with the car traveling between 75 and 80 miles an hour for two hours straight. Even from a stoplight, fully loaded the car doesn’t have trouble getting places.

A common complaint about the Pathfinder is its continuously variable transmission. For 2015, the CVT in the Pathfinder received “D-Step Shift Logic” which makes the CVT feel like a traditional transmission. During my time, I had no problems with it. The only thing I noticed involving the CVT occurred when driving on a particularly hilly section of highway (the Grapevine section of Interstate 5). The CVT was constantly trying to find the right planetary gear to climb up the hill, acting like a seven or eight-speed automatic transmission. Despite that, the transmission was still maintaining a constant speed of 65 mph, and didn’t have a problem with how much throttle I gave the car. However, the CVT didn’t have that issue when driving up the mountains to go to Lake Arrowhead, perhaps because of the lower speeds with the winding roads.

However, the fuel economy of the Pathfinder was exceptional, considering mine had four-wheel-drive and can seat seven people. Granted, the Pathfinder carried two people at most, and a majority of the miles I drove were on the highway in two-wheel-drive mode, with air conditioning off some of the time, but the Pathfinder managed a little bit over 25 miles per gallon, which is on the upper end of the EPA estimate of 19 city and 26 highway. The CVT definitely helped in achieving than figure.

As for utilizing the four-wheel-drive system on the car, I didn’t have a chance to do so. Unfortunately, no snow fell around Lake Arrowhead, and though taking the Pathfinder to my local off-road vehicle park was thought about, I didn’t think Nissan intended the current Pathfinder to face obstacle that even some current Jeeps have some difficulty completing. Nonetheless, Nissan’s intuitive 4WD system has 2WD, automatic, and 4WD lock modes as well as hill start assist and hill descent control. All of those features may come in handy when driving in snow or climbing and descending steep dirt or gravel roads.

My test car was the SL 4×4 model which had leather seats, a power passenger seat, power lumbar support, power liftgate, rear SONAR, a blind sport warning system, and a remote engine start system, useful for warming up the car in cold weather. Mine also had the SL Tech Package, which included navigation, a Bose sound system, the Around View monitor, and a tow hitch receiver with the trailer harness. With the $860 destination charge, the MSRP came to $40,850. Considering the amount of equipment on the Pathfinder, I think it’s very well-priced and the MSRP is very similar to other seven-passenger crossovers with a similar level of equipment as my Pathfinder test vehicle such as the Pilot Touring trim and the Highlander Limited model.

In the end, the Pathfinder should be on most families’ shopping lists. Those families who don’t want a minivan and are only willing to consider either a Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander are missing out on a very nice interior, much cleaner and classier outside styling, and many, many features for the price. After over 1,200 miles with it, I can write the Pathfinder is an excellent vehicle for driving long distances. What I can’t write is whether four millennials can tough out 1,200 miles as passengers in a Pathfinder, which in hindsight, is for the best. Otherwise I’d be writing this review with a hoarse voice.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. He’s still proud and amazed of the fuel economy numbers he achieved with the Pathfinder.

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60 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2015 Nissan Pathfinder...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Nice review!

    I wish the mfrs would build these as real 5-seaters rather than fake 7-seaters.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      If you can get someone over 5 ft tall in the third row then it isn’t a “fake 7-seater.” Lots of 3 row vehicles where anyone older than a 4th grader is going to be very uncomfortable.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Eh, I spent a couple hours this week jammed in the third row of a Chevy Traverse – I’m somewhere around average sized, and I fit okay. I can’t imagine the Pathfinder would be much different.

      On the other hand, it’d be nice to have the lower minivan floor to sit more comfortably upright, instead of having my knees up at chest height.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        These third row seats look VERY small compared to the ones in my Traverse. Traverse actually has a very roomy third row seat. You can comfortably fit three full size adults in there, provided the second row seats are moved forward all the way. And the seating position is not knees up at all.

        • 0 avatar
          GiddyHitch

          Completely agree, vvk. Had the Traverse on a ski trip with a bunch of dudes and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of room in that third row for me (broad in the shoulders) and another guy. No complaints for rides under an hour (didn’t test it longer than that). I’m the opposite of a GM guy, but the Traverse holds a special place in heart. It’s badge engineered siblings look tacky though.

    • 0 avatar
      Counterpoint

      Those of us with small children would disagree with you, and we are exactly the target market for this vehicle. Even a small third row seat makes carpooling possible.

    • 0 avatar
      Wacko

      I just bought a 2014 Pathfinder SL last month, and loving it so far, and for the real seven place, this is as real as a 7 passenger can be. With all the 7 passenger vehicles I cross shopped with, the pathfinder basically had the most room for the 3rd row.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Coworker has over 160k miles on his Sentra. It was a perfect car. Last year he broke down and purchased a new Pathfinder. It has been back to the dealer twice for transmission failures/issues. He is afraid to take his family on a vacation with the Pathfinder next week to North Carolina, driving from Florida. They are going to rent a mini van. He has also tried trading in the Pathfinder. He is so upside down, the resale value of the Pathfinder has to be on of the worst. I’m thinking mainly due to the CVT issues. Like $7000 in the whole and he actually got a great deal when first purchased the vehicle. At least this is what he is telling me.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I think the author should mention this as a caveat to the whole review. The Jatco CVT just can’t handle to loads of a 4000lb curb weight and the 3.5L VQ’s torque at the same time, I think CR reported on the widespread transmission failures of these new crossover Pathfinders, I suspect the Quests will be much the same. The issue is magnified by Nissan rating these Pathfinders for something like 5000lb of towing capacity, in vain attempts to prove “see, it still performs like the old ones in terms of utility!” That and totally lame attempts at proving the offroad prowess of these belly scrapers, of which they have almost none. Having said all that, a real 25 mpg out of such a large vehicle with AWD is impressive. Sounds like the seat comfort is good as well, ‘zero gravity’ seats I’m guessing?

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        I can believe that the 25mpg is only on the hwy, under 65mph. My friend with 2014 Pathfinder is getting much less with only fwd. It’s to bad. The Pathfinder looks like a good package, without the trans issues.

    • 0 avatar
      montyz81

      I own a 2013 Pathfinder Platinum Premium. We took our family, (my wife and 2 kids 11 and 4) on a week long trip to Hilton Head from New Hampshire last year. I have to say the car was instrumental in the success of this trip. We made several stops along the way in New York and in DC. At the time the car had 31k miles and it was due for new tires when we got back. We managed about 24mpgs on the entire trip. The creature comforts of the vehicle aided in keeping the kids entertained at exactly the right time, when we needed it. (Love the fact that the kids could watch different movies on the rear screens). I was so impressed with the way this car performed that I vowed that I would buy another one when it came time to trade this one in. The car currently has 52k miles on it and it by far is the best vehicle we have owned to date. One thing to keep in mind too, I am a car enthusiast. I will go to the ends of the earth to find a car with a manual and great handling characteristics. I hate driving in cars with sloppy road manners. That said, I am still super super impressed with this car!

  • avatar
    Mjolnir427

    Former Nissan service advisor here. Do not- I repeat, do not- buy a CVT equipped Nissan unless it’s a Maxima. Under NO circumstances should you purchase a ’13 up Parhfinder or Altima. If you’re shopping Nissan’s PM me for details.

    • 0 avatar
      caljn

      Dear “former” Nissan service advisor: how about a little detail rather than grenade lobbing?

      • 0 avatar
        Mjolnir427

        Sorry- I didnt realize there was no PM function.
        The reasoning behind my advice is simple – other than the Max there is an incredibly high failure rate for the CVT. The “big car” CVT fails at an unacceptably high rate when hooked to the AWD system. First gen Murano CVT’s are dicey- at best- but the 2wd ones seem to last longer than the AWD ones. 2nd gen Murano CVTs seem better, but the transfer case usually fails before the CVT does so you get a “chicken and egg” situation. Set aside an hour and Google “Murano CVT failure”.
        The “small car” unit is okay…. unless they get hot and stressed. The Rogue “Select” gets the double whammy of being asked to haul around several hundred pounds of AWD hardware. When you drive a 4-banger CVT in the mountains in the summer the heat and stress kill them. Google the Nissan TSB about installing an external trans cooler in Sentra/Altima/Rogue.
        While I’m sure many owners have been very happy with their Nissan, when I left Nissan in November ’14 my team of four techs had one each Path/Altima/Rogue tranny either in the air or out back waiting for the tranny to get here. The week prior to my leaving (Halloween) we lemon-lawed a Path for tranny issues, I delivered an Altima back to a guest that had the tranny replaced 3 days and 300 miles after purchase due to catastrophic failure, and I delivered a Path that had just gotten its third tranny in 5000 miles.
        You can choose to believe me or not, I don’t care, but before you buy (or advise someone you know to buy) a CVT Nissan you’d better look at JD Powers long term rankings, spend some time on google, and (most tellingly) read Ghosns public castigation of JATCO.

        • 0 avatar
          S197GT

          hmmmm…. 37 pages re: cvt “shudder” and failed transmissions. not good. i considered leasing one of these at one time before buying a used 2011 cx-9 (which we LOVE).

          http://www.pathfindertalk.com/forum/161-nissan-pathfinder-owners-survey-area/759-2014-pathfinder-owner-survey-shudder-judder.html

          • 0 avatar
            HerrKaLeun

            Wow, I read that forum thread. thanks for providing that.
            not only is it amazing Nissan dishes out those CVT for years that clearly have design and manufacturing flaws. I’m also disgusted by how they treat their costumers.

            Also interesting their other problems like airbag ligths or brake failures. No thanks. i gladly pay $1K more for a Toyonda.

            Depreciation on Nissan must be tremendous.

            I avoid the big 2.5 etc. because I’m afraid of exactly those problems and their resolution. but now put Nissan in that list as well.

            I also read the articles Ghosn complaining about JATCO. but no mention of actual failures, sounds like Ghosn tries tomake it sound like the “feel” of a CVT is the only thing needing addressing.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          You mention 2013 and newer Altimas. How are the 2007-2012s w/ 4 cylinders holding up?

          • 0 avatar
            Mjolnir427

            Poorly. The interior plastics were de-contented and fail regularly, same with the electronics and window regulators, the exhaust fails regularly (google the TSB/recall, and that doesn’t begin to cover it) and the tranny is a horror show, particularly in the V6. The ’02-’05 was a much better car. Get one if those.

        • 0 avatar
          montyz81

          Not sure I trust your opinion. I have a 2013 Pathfinder that goes on long trips and also pulls a trailer. I had a 2009 Murano that we traded in at 130k miles without issues and that too towed a trailer and had AWD. The Murano never had to visit the Nissan dealer other then for regular service (Oil,tires,but still had original brakes)

        • 0 avatar
          Durask

          What about the new Quest minivan? Does the CVT fail as much or is it less prone to CVT issues because it is FWD only?

    • 0 avatar
      S197GT

      as a “former” nissan owner (lowly versa sl) i can say i didn’t mind the cvt at all. it was my wife’s car before jumping to a lightly used bmw e90.

      she loved the car and the transmission was fine for the 36000 miles we had it. also got a letter in the mail later that nissan was extending the transmission warranty; didn’t look into why.

    • 0 avatar
      fleeno

      Can you please provide more details? What’s different about the Maxima CVT? What’s different about the 13 and up Pathfinder and Altima CVTs?

      I’ve owned the following with CVTs: 2007 Altima, 2009 Maxima, 2013 Altima, 2012 Murano, and 2015 Pathfinder.

      I’ve never had any mechanical trouble with my Nissans, transmission related or otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      Curious — mostly because this isn’t a forum and there are no such things as PMs here. Makes me think this could be the work of a PR firm, or a bot.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Mjolnir427, your advise of “Do not- I repeat, do not- buy a CVT equipped Nissan ” is sage advise and something that many of us who have or had a connection to the industry have been saying for years.

      The alternative (placebo) for those who desperately want and need a CVT in their lives is to “only keep it for as long as it is covered under the factory warranty.”

      One of our (lady) family friends went through two CVTs in her Murano before seeing the light and taking the loss.

      The one CVT repaired under warranty took three weeks without a loaner for her to drive and was bad enough. The second failure would have cost her ~$6500 out of pocket for a new one because there were no rebuilts on the market at that time.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      My friend had his transmission replaced at 6 or 7 months of purchasing the car. And not it is doing the vibration shimmying when accelerating from a stop. Dealer says it is normal. It is also only avg 19.8 mpg and they hate the suv. I told him if he had to have a Japanese branded suv to get a Toyota 4runner. About the same mpg and will not breakdown.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I already knew that, but why does Maxima get a pass?

      • 0 avatar
        Mjolnir427

        The Max gets a pass because it’s failure rate is significantly lower than the other cars, and not just on the tranny. Overall a Maxima will have far fewer problems than anything but a Sentra or Versa. As far as the tranny goes we (the techs and advisors) all figured its because it gets the big car tranny in a package that’s lighter and more aerodynamic.
        I worked for Nissan for 4.5 years, and if you care I’d buy a Max, a Sentra, a Frontier, or an XTerra. I’d replace the radiator on an auto Fronty/XT, but other than that they’re good trucks. The Maxima is a very trouble free car (as far as any modern car goes, anyway) and the Sentra doesn’t have any electronics TO fail.

  • avatar
    iMatt

    Ironically, Nissan ruins the one biggest attribute to a CVT when it comes to drive-ability by programming in fake gears. Fake gears for a fake SUV.

    I wonder how many potential customers Nissan has lost by making CVTs mandatory on close to every vehicle they sell. I may be the only one who actually liked the new Maxima released yesterday but again, CVT as the only option has wiped it off my radar.

    As for my thoughts on the rest of this truck/van thing…….whatever.

    Nice review though!

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      My suspicion in using fake gear is also to keep the pulleys from moving the belt around and therefore reduce stress on the tranny. Yes it is stupid when you can just put in a 6 speed auto, but all those R&D JATCO did has to be paid for, so the parent company Nissan just have to put those tranny somewhere.

  • avatar
    JD23

    No manual, no sale.

  • avatar
    fleeno

    I have a 2015 Pathfinder, coming from a 2012 Murano. We tow a small a-frame camper, and the Murano did well, but was just a bit small behind the rear seats. We did a week in the Black Hills last year, and it was a bit tight to get everything we needed in the car. We just wanted something bigger.

    I’ve really enjoyed the Pathfinder so far. With the third row down, there is plenty of room behind the second row, and I like the large compartment under the carpet (which also contains the sub).

    At 6′ tall, I wouldn’t want to spend hours in the third row, but it would be acceptable for taking your team to lunch. For kids, it would be just fine. The front row seats tilt and can slide almost up to the front seats, so it’s pretty easy to get in and out of the third row. Normally I drive with the third row folded, mainly because the headrests block my rear view a bit.

    It drives very comfortably, but it does feel like a big car compared to the Murano.

    It tows our a-frame very well. No complaints there.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I love the look of those thick soft leather seats. Nissan really nailed it with the interior, looks like something out of a Volvo.

    Kind of wish this stayed B-O-F. Drop the 5.6L in and it would have been a beast.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Sounds like a QX80 you just described! Can’t wait for them to depreciate down to the sweet spot of affordability but before they get 2nd owners who run them into the ground.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      This $40k for the Pathfinder doesn’t sound too bad – until you consider the QX60 (JX) starts at $43,800 – and probably comes with considerably more equipment as standard, better leather, and a nicer interior.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Unless you just refuse to own a vehicle from a NA maker, I can’t imagine preferring this over a Durango or Flex.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Pathfinders have their fans. From what I see in my area, most of them belong to young military men (and women) who enjoy camping, hiking, rappelling in the wide open spaces of the Sacramento Mountains.

      The proponents of CVTs at Nissan tell us that the CVT has been improved beyond recognition. That may well be so but for my preferences I’ll take 1) a step-hydraulic automatic transmission, 2) a manual transmission before I succumb to buying a CVT.

      But as long as the factory warranty is in effect and covers the CVT, you really don’t have a thing to worry about. It is only after the factory warranty expires that getting a CVT repaired can drive you into bankruptcy.

      Durango and Grand Cherokee are both worthy of consideration, as is the Highlander. I own both a 2012 Grand Cherokee 4X4 and a 2008 Highlander 4X4, and I would put either of them up as being equal to or better than any Pathfinder.

      • 0 avatar

        Are the Pathfinder owners you reference owners of 2013 or newer Pathfinders, or the 2012 or older model?

        I have a 2012 that I bought specifically because it was BOF (and was a leftover with a big pile of cash on the hood). If you wanted a mid-size BOF SUV, the Pathfinder or 4Runner were your only choice.

        But with the 2013 switch to unibody, the Pathfinder went from being a big fish in an increasingly small pond to a regular-sized fish in a very large pond.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          madanthony, the Pathfinder fans I reference own a gaggle of different model years. Their Pathfinders are parked along Barracks Row and Bachelor Officer Quarters.

          The young AF First Lieutenant chasing my 23-yo grand daughter drives a 2010 or maybe 2009 model, handed down from his dad.

          When she took him camping off-road in our 2012 Trail Ready Grand Cherokee in the mountains (way off the beaten path but within sight of a cell tower) all he was heard to say was, “I’ll be damned!”

          He couldn’t believe the Grand Cherokee was able to (slowly) go places where there were no roads. Something he was able to do routinely in his old Pathfinder.

      • 0 avatar
        GiddyHitch

        “I own both a 2012 Grand Cherokee 4X4 and a 2008 Highlander 4X4, and I would put either of them up as being equal to or better than any Pathfinder.”

        Compared to my old 99.5 Pathfiner LE with two-tone leather interior, true 4wd with a low range transfer case, and open diff, it had the off-road prowess of your GC and the reliability of your Highlander (or better) in the same package. 140k miles with no issues once I ditched the stock rotors and unstoppable in the snow.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          The only real pitfall of those Pathfinders was absolutely horrendous rust issues, like… Mazda bad. The same unfortunately applies to all nissans of that late 90s period. Aside from that they were a fantastic mix of on road handling (unibody with Mac strut front and solix axle on coils out back) and legit off road capability. It’s too bad that they dropped the 5spd manual when they upgraded them to the 3.5 VQ, that’d be a properly quick trucklet. Nissan kind of went through some identity crises with the Pathy. It started as a BOF compact SUV with emphasis on offroad and durability. 1996 brought a more passenger and road friendly unibody mid size SUV with a luxury emphasis but still a capable traditional 4wd system and solid rear axle. In 2005 it went back to a BOF body that was the largest yet, now with a towing and passenger slant but with independent rear suspension aping the 3rd gen explorer, which came out in 2002 with identical specifications: BOF with independent rear suspension for better third row space, and an optional V8. Now theyre again aping market trends with a transverse engined, sedan based crossover.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I can’t recommend that last BOF Pathfinder. It’s not suitable for daily in town use. Too uncomfortable, loud, unwieldy in the handling department, unrefined and rattly interior, and the 4.0 gulps fuel.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    Everywhere you look on the internet you read about these have a horrible rep for CVT failures, prob cuz the CVT can’t handle a 260 HP motor in a 4500 lb vehicle. Cr gives it a big black dot for reliability under transmission and it took them forever to report the 4 cylinder problems the 02-06 altima had so you know its really bad. Donno why anyone’s buying these when there are so many better, reliable 3 row cuvs out there.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but I believe the metallurgy of the cones and belt have been improved to the point where they are no longer the problem.

      My understanding is that the hydraulics are now the weakest link because of the insanely high pressures needed to move the cones under load.

      JATCO engineers thought to mitigate this situation by adding a torque converter, an array of sensors and extensive computer management, thus allowing the engine to spin at the optimum fuel-efficiency rate at all times, while varying power and torque based on speed and load demands.

  • avatar
    plee

    Nissan is still buying back CVT Pathfinders and Infiniti JX35s. If an owner has not had trouble with one yet, odds are that it will happen. It is both 2013 and 2014 models, not sure about 2015 models yet. Baffles me why someone would make such a large investment in this product when the problems are now well publicized.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Very well written!

  • avatar
    ganong

    2013 platinum 4X4 owner, 49500 miles, no CVT issues, have extended warranty.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    These sound quite capable; the looks just do nothing for me. The Santa Fe and new Honda Pilot beat this and the Highlander hands down. YMMV.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    My data point. I have a friend who owned a ’97 Maxima (5spd, no less) from new until last year when he traded it in on a Pathfinder. Which has had constant transmission problems. Had I known he was going to do it, I would have introduced him to my other friend whose 3.5L Altima went through 4 of them under warranty.

    The shame is that other than the issues, he loves the car. Works well for his family, and it gets great gas mileage. But if they can’t get these things to work by now, is there any hope they ever will?

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    Every japanese scooter made since the early 80s has had a CVT transmission, and ive owned 8 of them. my current one has a CVT to a jackshaft, to an oil bath chain drive rear axle. CVTs themselves are simple and easy to work on compared to geared and auto trannies.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Mikester, an automotive CVT may have to cope with a bit more torque than your average scooter. Also, although my experience with ancient snowmobile CVTs also suggests they are simple and easy to work on, what I hear from the automotive crowd is that the modern incarnation is more expensive than a traditional AT to repair, and more likely to need repair. Not sure how much of this sentiment is related to the ‘it doesn’t feel right’ crap from the AT purists (yes, sadly, that’s a thing), and would be delighted to hear Karesh or someone with real data weigh in.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The Pathfinder sounds very nice. I have yet to drive one here in Australia, but they do exist.

    I have driven a Kluger, or as you call them a Highlander. What a bucket of sh!t they are. They handle like a soggy biscuit and thirsty to boot. Especially around 80-85 mph. I was getting around 250 miles out of a tank of fuel.

    I don’t like the name Pathfinder being used on a vehicle like this. Call it a Stanza or something, but this isn’t no Pathfinder.

    Nissan has really screwed up with it’s naming conventions, big time.

    The link below is what should be called a Pathfinder by Nissan. It’s a real SUV with Hi and Lo range.

    I don’t know what Nissan will call this, but Pathfinder should be used as it’s based on the Navara D23.

    Here’s a cut and paste and link;

    “That will take this product ‘back to tors’, back to the original Pathfinder which sat a wagon hat on Navara 4X4 underpinnings.”

    http://www.themotorreport.com.au/59472/nissan-navara-suv-wagon-coming

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