2013 Nissan Pathfinder first drive
The name is the same, but everything else is as new as new gets
Calistoga, Calif. — Can you hear it? That distant rumble is the sound of truck frames falling like dominoes. One after another, sturdy citizens of SUV nation are abandoning their truck-ulent body-on-frame structures for car-like unibodies and front-drive-biased drivetrains. Even the segment-defining Ford Explorer has crossed the divide from SUV to CUV. Now it's the turn of the Nissan Pathfinder.
The Pathfinder had porked up a lot over the years. The outgoing third-generation truck was big enough to house a third-row seat, and even offered a V8 option for a while. It was a far cry from the 1986 two-door compact that first wore the name.
For 2013 the Pathfinder has gotten bigger still — but it's a whopping 500 lbs (226 kg) lighter than the 2012, thanks mostly to its unibody build. Powered by a smaller V6 than last year's, it can go up to 35 per cent further on a litre of fuel. In fact, Nissan is claiming best-in-class V6 fuel economy and interior volume for the new design.
If you've been following along, you may also recognise genetic similarities to the Infiniti JX crossover. But while the Tennessee-built duo do share their basic architecture, there are devils in the details. The Pathfinder debuts a high-efficiency redesign of Nissan's corporate CVT transmission; it has a more sophisticated all-wheel-drive system; and Nissan's version of the 3.5-litre V6 is a little less powerful (260 versus 265 hp) so it can run on regular gasoline (the JX requires premium).
The Pathfinder also has its own shape — to our eyes, one more notable for its class-leading 0.34 drag coefficient than its lines and contours, which strike us as conservatively handsome.
Priced to sell
As seems to be the Nissan way these days, the Pathfinder is aggressively priced. Canadian MSRPs begin a toonie under $30,000 for the base FWD S model and top out at $42,098 for the top AWD Platinum trim. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option on the S and is standard on the next-up SV, while the upper-middle SL trim comes with a choice of FWD or AWD.
Standard amenities are a mix of haves and can't haves. The S includes 18-inch aluminum wheels, AM/FM/6-CD, tri-zone climate control and push-button start ... but you have to migrate to the SV to get Bluetooth or a USB port. The SV also gets you a heated steering wheel and front seats; power liftgate; satellite radio; seven-inch colour screen; and rear-view monitor. The SL further adds leather, heated second-row seats, a tow-hitch receiver and (a big raspberry here, on behalf of the environment) remote start.
Spring for the Platinum trim, and receive cooled front seats, 20-inch wheels, AroundView Monitor, navigation and 13-speaker Bose audio. But even then you pay extra for a dual-screen rear DVD player, which is part of the Platinum Premium package, along with a dual panorama sunroof; on the SL, a different Premium package nets you the 'roof and the Bose audio, but not the DVD player.