Nissan Breaks the Mold with Next-Generation Pathfinder SUV

With its fourth-generation Pathfinder, Nissan has created an SUV with something for just about everyone.  The 2013 Pathfinder is longer, wider, lighter, has sleeker lines, and delivers better fuel economy than its predecessors.

Introduced in 1986, the Pathfinder was a huge hit with U.S. consumers. The subsequent two generations retained much of the styling of the original model. But today’s SUV owners are demanding more family-friendly amenities, including roomier interiors and more high tech entertainment options.

According to Nissan’s North American product manager Rich Miller, the 2013 Pathfinder fills the bill quite nicely. “We think we’ve hit the sweet spot for people with families,” says Miller. “For them, having two rows of seats might be too small, and having a third row that is readily accessible is important. We also wanted to maintain the power we have and the drivability, but we needed to improve our fuel economy. We also think our buyers will give up a little in towing for more fuel economy.”

Nissan has also done away with the current body-on-frame architecture  in favor of unibody construction for the 2013 model.

The 2013 Pathfinder will be equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, with a 5,000-pound towing capacity.  The current model comes with a 4.0-liter engine and a towing capacity of 7,800 pounds. The four-wheel-drive model will also be front wheel driven when in 2-wheel-drive mode.  The current four-wheel-drive model is rear wheel driven when not in 4×4 mode.

Size-wise, the new Pathfinder fits nicely between the compact Nissan Rogue and the larger Xterra, which may allow it to draw buyers from those segments. Miller says, “The new Pathfinder is more than 4 inches longer and wider, which gives us more room and better access to all three rows of seats. The second row slides 5.5 inches forward, so even with a child seat latched onto the second row, it will still slide enough to allow easy access to the third row, which reclines.”

In addition to its 8-inch touchscreen navigation system, panorama sunroof, and dual rear-facing 7-inch monitors, the 2013 Pathfinder takes the rear-mounted back-up camera to an all-new level with the around-view monitor.  This innovation uses four corner-mounted cameras and some computer wizardry to create a virtual bird’s eye view of the vehicle and its immediate surroundings to facilitate backing up and parallel parking.

The two-wheel-drive model gets an EPA estimated 20 mpg city / 26 mpg highway. The all-wheel-drive model delivers 19 mpg city / 25 mpg highway. Highway estimates for both models beat the Ford Explorer 3.5-liter V-6, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander.

Prices will range from $29,870 for the basic two-wheel-drive Pathfinder S to $40,770 for the fully loaded four-wheel-drive Pathfinder Platinum model.

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