2013 Nissan Pathfinder Review – Video

Richard Cazeau
by Richard Cazeau

As LL Cool J so poignantly rapped back in 1991; “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.”


1. With a significant 500-lbs weight reduction from the 2012 Pathfinder model, a new aerodynamic design, plus an all-new engine and CVT transmission combine to create 30 percent better fuel economy with a 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway rating.
2. Sold exclusively with a 3.5L V6, power is rated at 260 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque.
3. Interior volume has been improved with more shoulder room and 2-inches of extra legroom in the rear.
4. Creature comforts include an Around View Monitor as well as a Latch and Glide seat and Easy Fill tire system.
5. Pricing ranges from $28,270 to $40,770 for the Platinum 4WD model.

What better way to describe the all-new 2013 Nissan Pathfinder as it transforms its look, not to mention its platform, moving from an SUV to a crossover in a bid to revive a sport utility that was once a dominant market force.


Gone is the traditional truck-based body-on-frame, replaced with a unibody chassis that has helped cut 500-lbs of weight while increasing structural rigidity. Lighter, it’s now able to make do with a smaller engine, dropping the last gen’s 4.0-liter V6 and 5.6-liter V8 engines, while also switching from a basic rear-drive layout to one that is front-drive – with AWD optional.

The same platform as the Infiniti JX crossover, the Pathfinder also shares the same 3.5L V6 engine, matched with Nissan’s Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) to deliver 260-horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. With the dramatic weight loss and introduction of that CVT, fuel numbers have improved 30-percent from last year’s model ranging from 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway (22-mpg combined) for the 2WD models to 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway (21 mpg combined) for 4WD versions.


For many diehard fans of the first and second generation Pathfinder, this softer crossover might not fit the bill, but it can still trek far and wide with the optional ALL-MODE 4×4-i system which delivers selectable 2WD, Auto or 4WD modes.

Testing the different AWD settings, the Pathfinder performed extremely well during our time on an off-road course complete with treacherous dips, serious vertical inclines and even a few large moving objects – they were bulls, and they weren’t in a hurry to move either.

The Hill Start feature, which stops the vehicle from rolling backwards on a steep incline, was much appreciated.

Still, it feels more at home on the road, where it has improved the most, being lighter and swifter than it has ever been. The steering and throttle are responsive and easily controlled, giving the driver plenty of confidence. The added stiffness of the new unibody also delivers a comfortable and luxurious ride quality for long-distance family trips, while that CVT transmission means it’s always smooth.

In the towing department the new Pathfinder is less capable than in the past, with a max rating of 5,000 lbs. – down 1,000 lbs from the old V6 and 2,000 lbs from the old V8 models. Still, Nissan insists few will complain, with the average buyer needing just 3,500 lbs of towing capability.


No longer the boxy military-inspired SUV, the 2013 Pathfinder looks better suited to the street as well with a more aerodynamic shape, classy paint choices and plenty of chrome detailing.

Less boxy, there certainly isn’t less of it overall, measuring 4.6-inches longer and 4.3-inches wider. It does, however, have a lower roofline for better aerodynamics, making it appear smaller (at least head-on). Certainly not as muscular as Nissan would like you to believe, it does come across as lower and faster.


With that added size comes an impressive growth in interior room, both for passengers and cargo. In particular third row passengers now get two extra inches of legroom making it a space you might actually be able to use. Plus, the Pathfinder has the only reclining third-row seats in its class, further improving the livability of the area for those in the back, while a panoramic dual-panel moonroof with a sliding front panel and fixed glass rear panel affords second and third-row passengers the additional hospitality of an airy cabin.

A lower ride height makes getting in and out of the crossover much easier, while Nissan’s seating system lets you operate the second row tip-up seat even with a child seat attached, making for stress-free access to the third row.

Cargo space behind the third row totals 16 cu-ft (roughly the same as what you’d find in a mid-size sedan), while dropping those seats and the ones in the second row reveal an expansive 79.8 cu-ft of space – again, a significant increase over its predecessor.


The cabin tech is of premium quality with improved features such as the new customizable four-inch Advanced Drive-Assist color display encased between the tachometer and speedometer (already available in Infiniti SUVs), complemented by a larger eight-inch touch-screen monitor available with navigation and more. Other options include the programmable Nissan Intelligent Keys, Bluetooth, a 13-speaker Bose audio system, dual-zone climate control, RearView and Around View Monitor, remote engine start and a tri-zone entertainment system which utilizes the eight-inch center touch screen and two rear dual seven-inch DVD screens located in the front seat headrests.

New and exciting is the Around View Monitor which offers four directional cameras, located in the front grille, both side mirrors and the rear lift-gate. Delivering a bird’s eye view of the vehicle it’s easy to use, allowing drivers to screen any obstructions around the vehicle while in Drive mode, before canceling out at 10-mph. Plus, the new Pathfinder comes with Nissan’s Easy Fill Tire system, which honks the horn when the ideal tire pressure has been achieved.

Beginning at $28,270 for the base S 2WD model that includes 18-inch alloy wheels, Drive Assist and a 6-speaker audio system the SV 2WD model starts at $31,530 with features like Intelligent Key, roofrails, Bluetooth and a RearView Monitor. Moving-up up a notch is the SL 4WD trims (expected to be the volume seller) beginning at $36,070 and equipped with added luxuries like remote engine start, leather front/rear heated seats and a handy power liftgate. But those shopping for the fully-loaded deal will venture toward the cooled front seats and 20-inch wheels package of the Platinum 4WD trims starting at $40,770.

Clearly going in the direction of image and comfort, 60-percent of the 2013 trims are fitted with leather and many of the packages are customizable. Additional option packages include the Platinum Premium Package for $2,300 encompassing the tri-zone entertainment system and dual panoramic moonroof. An SL Premium Package comes with the13-speaker Bose audio system, panoramic moonroof and trailer tow package. A tow package on its own (hitch receiver, harness and integrated bumper finisher) is priced at $400.


A refreshing take on an SUV that was losing its cache and its followers, the 2013 Pathfinder is more spacious, more fuel efficient and much, much smoother. At the same time retains a high level of utility – and in some respects even improved upon the old body-on-frame SUV.

While certainly less rugged looking, this family hauler now has plenty of city smart style. Traditionalists may snub the new Pathfinder as being too soft with less towing capability, but there’s no denying it’s a progressive evolution of the classic SUV.

For those who may have written-off the Pathfinder, or SUVs in general, it’s now worth a second look. The folks at Nissan might not be willing to call it a comeback, but that’s just what this SUV-turned-crossover is poised to be.


  • New design
  • V6, CVT combo works
  • Around View Monitor
  • Crossover exterior, SUV interior


  • Third row seating still limited
  • Reduced tow rating
  • You’ll be compelled to splurge on top trims
Richard Cazeau
Richard Cazeau

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  • Matt Matt on Aug 21, 2013

    Yes, lets tow 5000 lbs with a transmission that essentially has rubber bands in it. I think it would be safe to say that maybe within a few model years, the towing capacity will drop down to below 3000 lbs when Nissan realizes they are replacing CVT Transmissions left and right. The 2013 Pathfinder is not a Pathfinder, sorry to say. In fact, its a sliding door away from being a mini van. Please do not refer to your Pathfinder as an SUV, because it's not. It's a CUV. SUV's don't have transversely positioned engines or unibody construction. I understand that evolution is going to happen. However, if a model is dying as you say the previous generation was, then let it die and let it die with its legacy in tact. Don't take its namesake and desecrate it by placing on what the 2013 pathfinder is now. I personally own a 2012 Pathfinder LE, and to be honest the only problem I have with the 2013 Pathfinder is its name. I primarily drive highway miles and I'm averaging 19.5 to 19.8 mpg, which really is only a few less than what you are averaging. So, the fuel economy gains really aren't significant. I am a die hard Nissan lover, so I really have nothing bad to say about the new Pathfinder other than it's name

  • Matt Matt on Aug 26, 2013

    Well they have officially turned my pathfinder into a soccer mom van. My 09 looks great but won't buy this new body style. Good luck with this one Nissan, you just lost a costumer.