Luxury options include heated and cooled front seats, two moonroofs that cover all three rows and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, but there are a few utility shortfalls.
Fold the seats down and numerous gaps in the floor threaten to catch your cargo. Maximum luggage volume—just 79.8 cubic feet—roughly matches the Explorer but trails the Pilot (87.0 cubic feet), Highlander (95.4 cubic feet), and Traverse (a mammoth 116.3 cubic feet).
The Pathfinder has yet to be crash-tested. Standard features include all-disc antilock brakes, an electronic stability system, and six airbags, with curtain airbags for all three rows.
The front-drive Pathfinder starts around $29,000, including an $825 destination charge. All-wheel drive adds $1,600 to any trim. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, tri-zone automatic climate control, and a CD stereo with steering-wheel audio controls and an auxiliary jack but not Bluetooth. USB/iPod integration and Bluetooth phone operation come on the SV and SL, but only the Platinum has Bluetooth audio streaming—downright stingy, given the popularity of music on smartphones these days.
Move up the trims and you can get dual moonroofs, a power liftgate, power front seats with heating and cooling, heated rear seats, leather upholstery, and a heated steering wheel. A loaded Pathfinder Platinum will set you back around $44,000.
The Pathfinder’s handsome cabin styling and driving refinement—tires notwithstanding— should help family buyers overlook its modest cargo room. Can Nissan find the sales success of a Pilot or Explorer? Established automakers and small players alike have struck out (e.g., HyundaiVeracruz and Subaru Tribeca) in the attempt, but I suspect the Pathfinder won’t go their way.
With six SUVs and a minivan in its lineup, Nissan has strong people-hauling credentials. It’s missed a big chunk of the market for years, but at long last, the new Pathfinder fills the gap.
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