New Car Review: 2013 Nissan Pathfinder

Front 3/4 view of 2013 Nissan Pathfinder

If you surf around on the web, Googling things like "2013 Nissan Pathfinder review", you'll find more than a few autojournalists bemoaning the fact that the Pathfinder is no longer about rugged off-road utility and has become a carlike crossover.

That's true...but here's a little secret gleaned from driving a few Pathfinders as news vehicles in television:

The last generation wasn't the best vehicle for that kind of thing (off-roading) anyway.  It had become too big, too ungainly.  For the past nine model years, the best choice for adventure where the pavement ends at your Nissan dealer was...and still is...the Xterra.

Time to either kill off the Pathfinder or re-invent it.  And given that crossovers are a thing, killing it would be leaving money on the table.

Rear 3/4 view of 2013 Nissan Pathfinder

And as a crossover, the Pathfinder's got a lot going for it.  In essence, it's a $13,000 cheaper Infiniti JX35 (which becomes the QX60 for 2014)...and since most of the price difference in the Infiniti is in amenities, the basic structure and powertrain are identical.

We're talking a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 260 horsepower, mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (Nissan's CVTs are quite good) and delivering EPA-estimated mileage of 20 city/26 highway...all fine benchmarks. Base price for the S model is $28,700...the SV, which adds roof rails, a rearview monitor, Bluetooth and Nissan Intelligent Key, is $31,960 and the SL (our tester), is $34,900...which gets you the aforementioned goodies plus fog lights, a power liftgate, remote engine start and leather appointed seating in the front and second rows.

18-inch wheels are standard, as are all the usual restraints and airbags, three rows of seats , ABS, electronic brake force distribution and a 5,000 pound towing capacity.

It's smooth, quiet, comfortable, in our week with it exactly matched the combined fuel economy estimate of 22 MPG, and because it has a 19.5  gallon fuel tank, we didn't have to refuel.

Interior view of 2013 Nissan Pathfinder

It also, despite being the top of the line, had options.  $150 for splash guards.  $300 for roof rail cross bars.  $200 for carpeted floor mats.  $275 for illuminated kick plates.  And $2,650 for the SL Premium Package, which upgrades the audio system to a BOSE 13-speaker unit, adds a 120 V power outlet, a dual panorama moonroof, a tow hitch and trailer harness.

With $825 for destination, the bottom line was $39,300, which still slots in below the $41,000 price of admission for a 2014 QX60.   And given that our knock on Infiniti the past few years has been that they drown their vehicles in too much intrusive technology, the Pathfinder has become a great way to get the good stuff Inifiniti offers without the frippery and save some significant bucks in the process.