The Nissan Pathfinder is turning 27 years old in the 2013 model year, which is about 50 years old in car years, as it is starting to get a little long in the tooth. Fortunately, Nissan has continuously made changes to this once-compact SUV throughout the years to keep it up with the times. The 2013 model year is going to be a drastic redo for the Pathfinder, as just like Nissan did in 1996, when it changed from a compact SUV to a mid-size one, this popular SUV will be moving classes again.
In this latest generational change, the Pathfinder is moving away from the shrinking mid-size SUV world and sliding right into the mid-size crossover realm, much like the Explorer recently did. This is mostly due to the fact that sitting on a smaller frame and having a more car-like ride has become more desirable than the truck-like ride given by body-on-frame SUVs. This also makes the Pathfinder a more nimble vehicle.
Though the specifications are still a little bit scarce, we do have a pretty firm grasp of what Nissan is planning with this all-new Pathfinder crossover and we are going to let you in on what we know.
UPDATE 10/10/2012: Nissan has announced pricing for the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder SUV, which goes on sale in U.S. Nissan dealers nationwide in late October 2012. Prices will range from $28,270 for the base Pathfinder S 2WD and will go up to $40,770 for the Pathfinder Platinum 4WD. Check out full pricing for packages and accessories after the jump!
Click past the jump to read more on the Nissan Pathfinder.
Describing the changes made to the 2013 Pathfinder’s exterior is kind of like saying they did not completely redesign it, but still completely redesigned it. The basic styling characters of the Pathfinder that we all know and love are still there - the chrome V-like grille, the front fog lamps and the obligatory roof rack - but the overall shape of the Pathfinder coming for 2013 is 100 percent different than the 2012 model.
We are going to receive a much sleeker design that boasts more of a car-like appearance than truck-like looks. Gone is the flat front end and in comes a front end that rakes rearward more and has more curve to it. You still get the signature Pathfinder hood, but its lines are softer and more modern.
The headlights are also completely revised, as they are now more rectangular near the front of the vehicle and come to a point as they wrap around the front fenders.
From the side, you would never suspect the 2013 Pathfinder as a relative of the current Pathfinder, let alone a vehicle bearing the same name. The side profile of the 2012 Pathfinder was that of a rugged, square-shaped SUV, ready to tackle whatever obstacles come in its way. The 2013 Pathfinder features a swooping roofline, as well as doors that feature luxurious sculpting in place of the flat sheet metal found on today’s Pathfinder.
Finally on the rear end, you no longer get the flat rear hatch door that is found on the 2012 Pathfinder. In place of this old flat hatch is a more rounded and shapely hatch that boasts a sharp spoiler on the top of it. Also on the rear end are a set of brand new horizontal wrap-around taillights in the place of the old-looking vertical taillights on the 2012 model year.
As we said this is a total redesign, but it still retains some of the basic cues from the 2012 Pathfinder, most of which you will find on the front end. It is really obvious that Nissan’s goal was to make the Pathfinder more luxurious and desirable to families, as opposed to someone looking to go off-roading.
On the inside you are getting a completely revised and more luxurious interior. We are not certain what exactly will come standard and optional on the 2013 Pathfinder, but we can outline some of the additions that Nissan added in this year.
The first addition is Nissan’s EZ Flex Seating System, which gives the Pathfinder an amazing 1.3 million different seating configurations. We would love to see Nissan demonstrate all 1.3 million, as we are certain the majority are completely useless. Regardless of our skepticism, that is an amazing feat. The 2013 Pathfinder can hold up to seven passengers with all of the seats up and each one packed tightly, but if cargo hauling is more of your style, the Pathfinder also hauls up to 79.8 cubic-feet of cargo with the rear seats folded.
It looks as if leather interior comes standard in the 2013 Pathfinder with the choice of black or beige. The dashboard and doors also receive some luxury treatment, as Nissan fitted them with wood grain trim. Gone is the old utilitarian looking three-post steering wheel and in comes a car-like four-post wheel with audio, HVAC, and Bluetooth controls.
In the center stack is an LED touch screen that is also part of Nissan’s Around View Monitor, which uses a series of cameras around the vehicle to detect objects and gives you an overhead view of the vehicle with these objects in place. This LED screen also acts as the screen for Nissan’s navigation system with voice recognition.
Keeping you and your passengers entertained is a 13-speaker Bose audio system that gives all three rows custom-tuned sound. Inside the center console there is an iPod dock that allows you to connect your iPod and control its basic functions with the Pathfinder’s audio controls.
Making long trips even more bearable, there are two headrest-mounted 7-inch LCD monitors, so the kids can watch their movies or play video games. What’s even better is that these two screens are completely independent, so each side gets its own movie or game with no fighting back and forth over what movie to watch.
In addition to all of those features, Nissan also added in the latest automotive trend. Just above your head is an all-glass panoramic roof that opens up letting a nice breeze flow through the cabin.
This is all just the tip of the iceberg for the completely redesigned 2013 Pathfinder’s interior. We are sure there will be a ton more information coming out, as we get closer to its release date.
Engine and Drivetrain
The engine is not 100 percent certain yet, but since this new Pathfinder will share its basic underpinnings with the Murano, we assume it will inherit the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine that the Murano uses. Unless there are modifications coming to this engine in 2013, this would put the 2013 Pathfinder at an acceptable 260 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 240 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. That’s a 48-pound-feet and 6-horsepower drop from the 2013 model year, but we also anticipate the Pathfinder to drop some pounds for the 2013 model year to compensate.
The 2013 Pathfinder will come with 4-wheel drive that you can manually set to either 2- or 4-wheel drive. If you don’t feel like switching back and forth, you can opt to place the selector in Auto and let it chose between 2- and 4-wheel drive for you.
By far the worst part about the Pathfinder moving onto the Murano’s platform is that it will inherit the Murano’s slushbox CVT. If we haven’t made it quite clear yet about our opinion on CVTs, we will tell you now… They are the single-most idiotic invention of all automotive times. There was a reason Subaru stopped using those decades ago… They stink. Nissan chocks it up as “fuel saving,” but simply adding in a 6- or 7-speed automatic transmission saves as much, if not more, fuel than a CVT.
Despite the switchover to a crossover platform, the Pathfinder doesn’t lose much in towing, as Nissan rated it at a maximum capacity of 5,000 lbs.
Overall, we like the switch to the more durable and modern 3.5-liter engine, but we despise the addition of the CVT. We’ll call it a draw in this area.
| Model || Price |
| Pathfinder S 2WD || $28,270 USD |
| Pathfinder SV 2WD || $31,530 USD |
| Pathfinder SL 2WD || $34,470 USD |
| Pathfinder Platinum 2WD || $39,170 USD |
| Pathfinder S 4WD || $29,870 USD |
| Pathfinder SV 4WD || $33,130 USD |
| Pathfinder SL 4WD || $36,070 USD |
| Pathfinder Platinum 4WD || $40,770 USD |
| Packages || Price |
| SL Premium Package || $2,650 |
| Platinum Premium Package || $2,300 |
| Trailer Tow Package || $400 |
| Accessories || Price |
| Splash Guards, 4-piece || $150 |
| Cross Bars || $300 |
| Rear Bumper Protector || $200 |
| Dual DVD Entertainment System || $1,850 |
| Floor Mats, 4 piece || $200 |
| Cargo Package || $200 |
| Illuminated Kick Plates || $275 |
The main competitor for the incoming 2013 Pathfinder is the 2013 Explorer, which converted to a sexy crossover in 2011. Both models boast a 3.5-liter engine standard and both get about the same fuel mileage, but the difference is in the horsepower. The Explorer’s 3.5-liter pumps out 290 horsepower, a full 30 ponies more than the Pathfinder. The Explorer also boasts 15 more pound-feet of twisting power, but they both have a 5,000-lb maximum towing rating.
One toy that Ford has that Nissan does not is a performance model, as the Explorer Features a 350-horsepower twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 engine. Nissan will likely let Ford win that battle, as it has no interest in a performance SUV.
We love what we have seen of the 2013 Pathfinder so far, sans the CVT. Its improved gas mileage and more stylish appearance bring it out of the Stone Age and into the modern era where SUVs are more for soccer families that refuse to buy a minivan.
Let’s wait and see where the pricing lands before making a final decision, but all things being as expected. We advise going with a Pathfinder over the Explorer only if you prefer the extra luxury that Nissan affords you. In terms of raw performance and appearance, we advise choosing the Explorer.
Stylish new design
Replacing the stale old 4.0-liter with a modern 3.5-liter
CVT!! Why car gods, why?!?!
May have been softened a little too much
Jury is out on towing with a CVT