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2014 Nissan Pathfinder - Driven

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The new Pathfinder is lighting up the sales charts with its seven seats and a newly luxurious, efficient and smooth driving experience. Far from going soft, the Pathfinder is still able to do all the truck-like things that made its previous body-on-frame models so memorable.

The TopSpeed Garage is much classier with the 2014 Pathfinder Platinum in "valet 1st position" out front.

Have kid-friendly features totally stomped out the lenedary toughness of the chiseled hardbody Nissan SUV’s from the 1980s? The irrelevance of this question is pretty clear. This is a business, and Nissan knows it.

We’re thrilled to report that the Pathfinder has not lost its way.

Guiding the trails like it did as one of the first semi-premium, imported SUVs in the 1980s, the Pathfinder is on a new trail now — a much smoother trail. One that has dual video monitors in back, a sliding/reclining second row to stretch out with the wireless headphones, and even a heated rear seats for the ultimate in couch potato lounge amenities in back.

But what about the irritating and non-premium character of most previous CVT automatics?

As confessed CVT haters and without rug-rats (yet), our expectations were quite mixed before the 2014 Pathfinder Platinum rolled into the TopSpeed Garage . The latest CVT automatic is standard and truly is a new breed of lightweight and economical transmissions, and we took a quick video of a brake torque launch to show how snappy this new Xtronic box is.

Click past the jump for the full TopSpeed Garage review of the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum 4x4, by far one of the most impressive seven-seat crossovers on the market.

Exterior

As warmly as we feel about all the new Pathfinder’s accomplishments inside and under the hood, the exterior styling is not quite as successful from all angles.

The defining element is the new V-bar chrome grille face that is making its way from the Titan range onto this new Pathfinder and the all-new 2014 Nissan Rogue .

The little Rogue ,which also seats seven for 2014, shares key surfacing elements with its bigger brother. While the new Rogue does build in some additional tautness with creased panels, the Pathfinder is firmly in the soft styling camp that produced the feline-inspired Q70 Infiniti range.

The Pathfinder really looks best from the front, where its sharp headlamp angles and the prominent new grille are large enough to check your hair like a bathroom mirror. The 2014 Rogue’s LED running lights are also absent on the Pathfinder, despite this truck being new just this year.

Moving to the profile; the front overhang is actually quite tight and the hood reasonably butch for this car’s dual family/outdoors-man mission. A lack of major details can leave the bodysides looking a bit shapeless, but overall the Pathfinder looks modern and expensive in profile.

Similarly conservative taillights and non-LED brake lights are a bit of a throwback versus some Nissan and Infiniti releases; which were some of the first mainstream cars to come with LED dots for the Murano and (heavenly) G35 from the early 2000s.

Functional shapes mean the bumper and load heights in back are far lower than any truck-based models, and the cargo hatch is a wide and power-operated shape for the top trims.

Stylish wheels and classy paints help the Pathfinder seem new, but the LED omission is curious versus the spaceship lighting of the still-popular Lexus RX. It does reinforce the no-nonsense attitude of the truck, leaving the pricey embellishments for people seeking a flashier driveway showpiece.

Even so, xenon lighting is a very nice feature to have out on the dark trails.

2014 Nissan Pathfinder - Available 4x4 Detail

2014 Nissan Pathfinder - Exterior Features

  • Smart Auto Headlights
  • Fog lights
  • Roof rails
  • Tow hitch receiver with 7-pin wiring harness
  • Dual power heated outside mirrors with reverse tilt-down feature
  • Chrome body side moldings
  • Front UV-reducing solar glass and rear privacy glass

Interior

Nissan Pathfinder - Driven

Get ready for some glowing praise. Versus the narrow and cheap previous Pathfinders, this new version feels fantastic from every angle. Even with eyes closed, a big improvement. A simple yet ergonomic dash design is classy, mature and not too boisterous with loud accents or other clutter.

It just feels about a foot wider and the floor’s completely flat design means that the driving position is now much more conventional. Sitting with legs down is much more comfortable over long periods of driving versus the legs-forward position of truck-based SUVs.

A huge central armrest and room to juggle is a final treat in this roomy hauler. The tall window glasshouse and tall roof are quite impressive, especially considering the dual moonroof setup of the loaded Platinum tester.

Material quality is not even comparable versus the previous gen’s shiny and 1990s grey plastics. Everything feels modern, robust and of excellent quality. Charcoal or almond leathers offer some personalization inside, and both are discreet and tasteful.

Comparing the Pathfinder to its Infiniti sibling’s interior shows how similar these two machines are. Without a spec sheet for the previous JX35 handy to confirm, we would be very surprised if any of the Infiniti features are not available somewhere on this much-cheaper Nissan.

The AroundView monitor is present and helpful, but the latest radar and laser cruise and city braking is absent. Not a problem for many drivers, as the Pathfinder’s rear sonar is good enough.

Lasers, sonar and tripe radars front and back? This is a crossover, not a combat vessel!

2014 Nissan Pathfinder - Second Row Lounge Detail

Nissan Pathfinder - Driven

The second row is pretty remarkable, with a large range of sliding adjustment and recline settings to get seriously relaxed back there. Class-leading legroom comes standard.

On the "Triple P" - aka the Pathfinder Platinum Premium - twin video screens, four 12-volt ports, headphones, remotes and chargers/climate/audio controls are all within reach of the second row.

The roominess, comfort, quietness and flexibility of the second row is a class-leading feature, even versus the jumbo Chevrolet Traverse that is a cool foot longer in overall length.

More than an old Pathfinder, this back seat might be better than the Armada for long-range naps.

2014 Nissan Pathfinder - Third Row Access Detail

Nissan Pathfinder - Driven
Nissan Pathfinder - Driven

Accessing the third row is very simple. A spring-loaded slider tilts and moves the second seat out of the way, clearing an access that the Mazda CX-9 and BMW X5 cannot match.

Critically, the second row back/forth operation seems like it can be accomplished by kids. The Armada has heard kid-sized complaints that its high exterior rear door handle needs Mom’s help.

Luckily, the large (and low-handled chrome) rear ports are light and easy to open with bags in one hand, and the doors’ wide and large access is really helpful for child seats loading.

Finally, the trunk behind that third row is another class-leading achievement. It also slides and tumbles with one hand, and a smaller compartment down below houses the Bose Wave audio’s various gizmos. This thing will play KidzBop on the Bluetooth streaming Pandora at levels so loud and clear that the kids in back might be deaf for days. Good times.

2014 Nissan Pathfinder - Interior Features

  • Advanced Drive-Assist Display
  • Nissan Hard Drive Navigation System with 8-inch VGA touch-screen monitor and voice recognition
  • NavTraffic and NavWeather with 3-month trial subscription provided by SiriusXM
  • Zagat Survey restaurant reviews
  • Rear Sonar System
  • Around View Monitor
  • Push Button Ignition, Nissan Intelligent Key
  • Power liftgate with position memory
  • Remote Engine Start System
  • Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone System
  • HomeLink universal garage-door opener
  • Tri-Zone Automatic Temperature Control (ATC) with In-cabin microfilter
  • Variable intermittent speed-sensitive flat-blade windshield wipers
  • Intermittent rear window wiper
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Four 12-volt DC power outlets
  • 120-volt AC power outlet
  • Sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors and extension
  • Power tilt/telescopic steering column
  • Front seatback map pockets
  • Overhead sunglasses holder
  • Eight cup holders and six bottle holders
  • Cargo area tie-downs (eight)
  • Cargo area under-floor storage
  • 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar
  • Driver’s seat and outside mirrors position memory
  • Steering-wheel position memory
  • 4-way power adjustable front-passenger’s seat
  • EZ Flex Seating System with 2nd-row 60/40 split fold-flat bench seat featuring LATCH AND GLIDE and 3rd-row 50/50 split fold-flat reclining bench seat
  • Leather-appointed seats (front and second rows) and door trim
  • Climate-controlled front seats (heated and cooled)
  • Heated rear seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
  • Bose audio system with AM/FM/CD, SiriusXM Satellite Radio with 3-month trial subscription, MP3/WMA CD playback capability, DVD video playback capability, Auxiliary audio/video input jacks, USB connection port for iPod interface and other compatible devices, Streaming audio via Bluetooth wireless technology, 13 Speakers, including Bose Acoustic Waveguide technology

2014 Nissan Pathfinder - Platinum Premium Package ($2,300)

  • Dual panorama moonroof
  • Rear auxiliary audio/video input jacks
  • Tri-Zone Entertainment System

2014 Nissan Pathfinder - SL Tech Package New-for-2014

  • Includes the full-feature nav, camera and audio system from the top models, sans the rear monitors

Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes

We challenge you to find a more-hardcore group of auto writers against CVT automatics than us. For the Pathfinder to be so far ahead of any previous Xtronic is really incredible, especially while offering a 5,000-pound tow rating that beats anything else in its segment.

The new CVT brings far less friction loss, more advanced silent chains to convey the power without, and a perceptible kick-down for passing that has never been a CVT feature before.

As the above video shows, the CVT does its job at delivering smooth acceleration, far better economy (26 mpg highway is another contender for class best.) It also makes the Pathfinder so much more friendly in town than any Tahoe or Q7. Barely spinning the engine to cruise at any speed, the CVT is also pretty effective at delivering the engine’s 240 pound-feet of torque.

The engine is a smooth and zingy unit with some low-rev character in its thrum, but also a distinctly high-performance urgency near its 7,000-rpm red line. The torque-happy V-6 is much, much smoother and friendly than this engine on other Nissan crossovers, where it previously sounded unhappy at high revs.

2014 Nissan Pathfinder - Mechanical Features

  • Electronic drive-by-wire throttle
  • Hill start assist
  • Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission)
  • 4-wheel vented disc brakes
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
  • Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD)
  • Brake Assist
  • Independent strut front suspension
  • Independent multi-link rear suspension
  • Dual Flow Path shock absorbers
  • Front and rear stabilizer bars
  • Electronic hydraulic power-assisted speed-sensitive steering

2014 Nissan Pathfinder - Performance Details

Engine 3.5-liter 24-valve V-6 With DOHC And VVT
Transmission Xtronic CVT Auto
Powertrain Layout Front-engine, Front-drive (AWD Opt)
Power (Horsepower) 260
Torque (Pound-feet) 240
0-60 mph (Seconds) 7.3 seconds (FWD), 7.6 (AWD)
Top Speed 118 mph, est
EPA Fuel Economy MPG (City/Highway/Combined) 20/26/NA

2014 Nissan Pathfinder - CVT Technical Detail:

Nissan Pathfinder - Driven

Safety

Nissan Pathfinder - Driven

2014 Nissan Pathfinder - Safety Features:

  • Nissan Advanced Airbag System (AABS) with dual-stage supplemental front airbags with seat belt and occupant-classification sensors
  • Driver and front passenger seat-mounted side-impact supplemental airbags
  • Roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags with rollover sensor for outboard occupant head protection for all three rows
  • Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Traction Control System (TCS)
  • Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS)
  • 3-point ALR/ELR passenger seat belt system (ELR for driver)
  • Front seat belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters
  • Adjustable front, outboard 2nd and 3rd row head restraints
  • LATCH System (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren)
  • Zone Body construction with front and rear crumple zones
  • Hood-buckling creases, energy-absorbing steering column and pipe-style steel side-door guard beams
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with individual tire pressure display and Easy-Fill Tire Alert
  • Nissan Vehicle Immobilizer System and Vehicle Security System

Pricing and Availability

Nissan Pathfinder - Driven

The Pathfinder is available now nationwide, with the Hybrid arriving with final prices in the next few months.

2014 Nissan Pathfinder - Prices

2014 Nissan Pathfinder MSRP
Pathfinder S 2WD $28,700
Pathfinder SV 2WD $31,960
Pathfinder SL 2WD $34,900
Pathfinder Platinum 2WD $39,600
Pathfinder S 4WD $30,300
Pathfinder SV 4WD $33,560
Pathfinder SL 4WD $36,500
Pathfinder Platinum 4WD $41,200

Competition

Nissan Pathfinder - Driven

The Pathfinder is is top-three contender for the 2013 sales ranks in its new segment.

Toyota Highlander

We always forget this car exists. A redesign for 2014 aims to address the tiny third row and mini cargo area with all the seats up. It looks relatively fresh with a new grille up front announcing its arrival before the rest of the Toyota gets on the scene.

Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid

Nissan Pathfinder - Driven

Evidence of how lucrative the SUV business has been for Nissan and Toyota is visible in the depth of each of their crossover and SUV car lines. For 2014, Nissan Nissan is launching an all-new hybrid powertrain as an option on the Pathfinder. It marks a huge advancement in previous hybrid crossovers like the Lexus RX because it maintains the full third row with folding seats intact.

It also brings a supercharged gasoline four-cylinder to a drivetrain that can be equipped as both normal front-wheel-drive or as hybrid AWD. The benefits of the previously-unpleasant CVT keep rolling in, it would seem.

Conclusion

Nissan Pathfinder - Driven

This new truck’s impressive refinement is a huge achievement for Nissan’s future market share in the exploding three-row crossover market.

Not only is the Pathfinder now on the right track to improve its sales, but the truck keeps the capabilities that are often asked of a big family machine like this. As a front-drive model or with optional locking four-wheel-drive, the new Pathfinder has great balance in the corners in 4x4 Auto mode, but a far smoother ride than even the old Infiniti QX4’s pillow-y and wallow-y spring settings.

The Pathfinder’s ground clearance is still in the Range Rover Sport league, and towing capacity is still an impressive 5000 pounds.

The floor is lower, the AroundView cameras are a great feature when parking, and overall the Pathfinder just seems fit for purpose much more than the 4Runner that is taking one last shot at luring off-road fans with a 2014 facelift.

In the reality of today’s market for capable crossovers, anything without easy city driving manners and three rows is starting to look quite dated next to the sophisticated 2014 Nissan Pathfinder.
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LOVE IT
  • The Pathfinder grew up and is better for all its changes
  • We should all be so lucky!
  • Pretty speedy, huge cabin is biggest in class, smooth ride but much nimbler than ever before
LEAVE IT
  • LED lighting for the cheaper (and also seven-seat) 2014 Rogue is offered as daytime running accents and also the low beams
  • But the swanky Pathfinder limo lacks even LED brake lights
  • If the Pathfinder cannot find its way into the future, what nameplate can?


What is your take?

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