2015 Nissan Pathfinder: Lots of features, limited space

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Now 30 years old, the Nissan Pathfinder continues the carmaker’s midsize offering in the sport utility vehicle segment. The 2015 edition includes slight standard equipment amendments and technology upgrades in various trims like blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert systems.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

The 2015 Nissan Pathfinder is available in S, SV, SL and Platinum trim levels, and my weekly driver was the SL trim with 4×4 or all-wheel drive. It also included the Tech Package ($2,030). All trims feature healthy standard features lists, and the Pathfinder is among most well-equipped SUVs in the industry.

Standard on the S and SV models: 18-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack, rear privacy glass, keyless entry and ignition, tri-zone automatic climate control, a manual height-adjustable driver seat (with manual lumbar adjustment), 60/40-split-folding second-row seats (with slide and recline), a reclining 50/50-split third-row seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control and a six-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer.

The SV model adds automatic headlights, a front tow hook, rear parking sensors, remote start, an eight-way power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a 7-inch color multi-information display, a rearview camera and an upgraded audio system with a single-CD player, satellite radio and a USB/iPod interface.

While it’s not the best performing SUV in its segment, the manufacturer’s chock-full approach doesn’t go unnoticed. In my week’s drive with the SL trim, I kept noticing more “stuff.” The Pathfinder approached technology and equipment overload. Depending on perspective, that’s either appreciated or excessive.

The SL trim included: foglights, heated mirrors, a power liftgate (with position memory), leather upholstery (first and second rows), heated front and second-row seats, driver memory settings, a four-way power passenger seat, a blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert.

the SL Tech package added a larger 8-inch touchscreen display, a 360-degree parking camera, a 120-volt household-style power outlet, towing preparation (also available separately on SL and SV), a navigation system with voice controls and a 13-speaker Bose audio system with Bluetooth audio connectivity.

Beyond of its “stuff,” why should a consumer consider the Pathfinder in a segment with several more popular competitors such as the Toyota Highlander, Mazda CX-9 and Ford Flex?

The Pathfinder was comfortable and its ride was smooth and confident. Its 3.5-liter V6 produced 260 horsepower with a continuously variable transmission. Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive are available. The overall vision was good and its promoted 5,000-pound towing capacity is impressive, although I didn’t tow anything.

Still, drivers of SUVs are often interested in cargo room, whether it’s for kids’ equipment, groceries or home repair needs. And that’s where the Pathfinder’s competitors shine. The Pathfinder offers only 16 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row and 79.6 cubic feet with the second and third-row seats folded flat. Several competitors’ numbers are substantially higher.

Likes:

Attractive cabin with top-scale leather seating.

Great fuel economy for SUV class.

Good second-row seating.

Dislikes:

Awkward rear seat adjustments.

Appreciable noise at freeway speeds.

Facts & Figures: 2015 Nissan Pathfinder

Acceleration: 0-60 mph: 8.0 seconds.

Airbags: 6.

Fuel economy: 19 mpg (city), 26 mpg (highway), 22 mpg (combined) with continuously variable automatic transmission.

Horsepower: 260.

Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $37,750.00.

Manufacturer’s Website: www.nissanusa.com.

Price As Tested: $40,850.00.

Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 6 years/70,000 miles; Powertrain, 4 years/50,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited mileage.

What Others Say:

“Once known for its rugged body-on-frame design, the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder has morphed into a much more family-friendly crossover SUV, with a roomy, modern interior, good ride and handling characteristics and impressive power. Up against such heavyweights as the Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango and Toyota Highlander, the Pathfinder holds its own.” — Kelley Blue Book.

“With its stylish cabin and respectable fuel economy ratings, the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder is a solid choice for a seven-passenger crossover SUV. But you might find some competitors more appealing overall.” — Edmunds.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“There’s nothing wrong with the Nissan Pathfinder. It offers a comfortable, confident ride and has strong towing capabilities. But there’s nothing superior about the Pathfinder, either. Which means there’s a lot from which to choose in the SUV market, and the Pathfinder doesn’t offer anything to move it to the top of the list in the $40,000 SUV segment.”

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