The Pathfinder has shed its former rough-and-rugged image to become one of the most enticing entrants among 3-row crossover SUVs. With comfortable accommodations, enjoyable driving manners and an efficient hybrid version available for 2014, the Pathfinder has a lot to offer as a family hauler.
You'll Like The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder If...
Want good fuel economy, room for seven and something more nimble than a Chevy Traverse or Ford Explorer? Put the 2014 Pathfinder on your shopping list. Another feather in the Nissan's cap is its ability to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
You May Not Like The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder If...
The 2014 Pathfinder won't tow the big loads of its V8-powered predecessor or scale mountains in low-range gearing. If your off-road adventures require lots of ground clearance and knowledge of what a transfer case is, check out the Toyota 4Runner, Jeep Grand Cherokee or Nissan Xterra.
A year after a complete revamp, the big news for the 2014 Pathfinder lineup is the introduction of a hybrid model. Also new is a tech package that bundles goodies such as a Bose premium sound system, navigation and 8-inch touch screen.
The Nissan Pathfinder seats up to seven passengers across three rows. Legroom is generous in the first and second rows, but the last row will be tight for adults. Seating material is cloth or leather. We're fans of the charcoal coloring of either seating surface that is contrasted by white stitching. Thankfully, Nissan passed on the finicky, all-touch infotainment systems used by others. Here, you can easily tune the radio or turn up the volume with the twist of a dial. The same goes for setting the temperature and fan speed. Other features we like include a hidden storage bin aft of the third row, built-in tie-downs, and flip-out coat hooks.
No longer the squared-off utility vehicle it used to be, the 2014 Pathfinder is all windswept curves and rounded edges. A large, upward sloping grille and two large headlight housings convey toughness, but for the most part the latest Pathfinder projects a friendly image. Roof racks can add functionality to the Pathfinder, and an available dual-panel moonroof does a great job of opening up the cabin, even for 3rd-row passengers. With just 6.5 inches of ground clearance, today's Pathfinder isn't meant for hard-core off-roading. Hybrid Pathfinder models look largely the same as regular versions, only subtly distinguished by LED taillights and hybrid badging.
This latest-generation Nissan Pathfinder is more refined than past models. This is due in large part because the old model used a truck-based body-on-frame setup, which made it a capable off-roader but not the best for highway cruising. The latest Pathfinder feels more stable in everyday driving, and its suspension and stability systems help keep body roll in check through corners. Like the Murano and other Nissan vehicles, the Pathfinder uses a continuously-variable automatic transmission (CVT). Such transmissions don't have traditional shift points, but Nissan's setups generally do well in mimicking them, and this particular Xtronic version is nicely matched with the Pathfinder's strong V6 engine. Front-wheel drive is now the standard setup for Pathfinders, with an All-Mode 4x4-i intelligent all-wheel-drive system available that enhances traction and offers a full-lock setting for use on rough terrain.
The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) that spans from just under $30,000 for a base S model with front-wheel drive to over $44,000 for a loaded, all-wheel-drive Platinum Premium version. The Pathfinder's starting price is similar to those of the Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, and Dodge Durango, making this a very competitive segment. If you're looking for an inexpensive way to carry a big family in an SUV, the Dodge Journey and its sub-$20,000 starting price is tempting. The smaller Kia Sorento, meanwhile, starts around $25,000 and also has three rows of seats. To make sure you're getting the best deal, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price before buying. On the resale front, the Nissan Pathfinder is expected to hold its value very well, though not quite match the lofty residuals of the Toyota Highlander.
The Pathfinder is available in six trims (S/SV/SL/SL Premium/Platinum/Platinum Premium), with each getting its own roster of standard features. Spend the least on a base S model, and you still won't feel like a pauper with features such as 3-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, in-dash 6-disc AM/FM audio, and 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Climbing trims brings amenities such as leather seating, a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, Bluetooth streaming audio, navigation, and a power liftgate. Top trims bring a 13-speaker Bose premium audio system, the Around View Monitor, 20-inch wheels, and a panoramic moonroof.
Aside from the option of all-wheel drive, most other extras for the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder come as packages, which themselves are limited since many of the trims bundle the features. Among the offerings are a tri-zone entertainment system, a panoramic moonroof, Bose audio, and navigation. A tow hitch receiver is also available for those who plan to haul their toys.
AROUND VIEW MONITOR
This available feature uses four vehicle-mounted cameras to take the stress out of parking. In addition to displaying a picture of what's in front of and behind the Pathfinder, the cameras create a composite image to give you a virtual bird's-eye view from above.
EZ FLEX LATCH & GLIDE SYSTEM
This Nissan-patented feature allows child safety seats latched to the 2nd-row seats to remain strapped in when they are slid forward to gain access to the 3rd-row seats.
Under the Hood
The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder uses a V6 engine that has a good balance of power and fuel economy. It can tow up to 5,000 pounds and returns up to 26 mpg. The sole transmission is a CVT automatic. New for 2014 is the first hybrid setup used in a Pathfinder. While it won't attain the 50 mpg of a Prius, the Pathfinder Hybrid is estimated to average 27 mpg, not bad for a 3-row SUV. Instead of a V6, the Pathfinder Hybrid pairs a supercharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine with an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery. In all, the system generates 250 horsepower and can still tow up to 3,500 pounds. The regular and hybrid Pathfinders come in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
260 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
240 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/26 mpg (front-wheel drive), 19/25 mpg (all-wheel drive)
2.5-liter inline-4 + electric motor/generator
250 horsepower (combined)
240 lb-ft of torque (combined)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/27 mpg (estimated)
Nissan reinvented the Pathfinder last year, transforming it from a rugged body-on-frame SUV into a more car-like unibody crossover SUV. The result was a vehicle whose priorities changed from towing heavy loads and finding precarious paths to meeting the demands of a wider audience seeking a comfortable, fuel-efficient SUV that can stylishly schlep the kids to soccer practice and still have room for groceries. Not surprisingly, the latest Pathfinder has been a hit. As a softened crossover SUV, the 7-passenger Pathfinder is one of the most competent models in a segment that includes the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and Mazda CX-9. The Pathfinder's 26-mpg highway rating is among the segment's best, and a new hybrid model promises still-higher returns.