2013 Nissan Pathfinder long-term vehicle - front three-quarter view

We've now had our long-term 2013 Nissan Pathfinder for about a month, and some impressions are starting to solidify, while others remain contentious among the team. Most notable among those contentious items is our Pathfinder's paint color, which was chosen by vote among the Autoblog team.

Dubbed Mocha Stone, it beat out Cayenne Red by a single vote. I was a Mocha Stone supporter and like it even more in person than on Nissan's configurator. It's a mature choice that can be comfortably placed in the grouping of silver, white and gray tones buyers routinely choose most often over all the colors of the rainbow offered on cars these days for the sake of attention. Staunch opponents of Mocha Stone on the team remain unswayed. Democracy is a difficult process, people.

Our near fully loaded Pathfinder is only a couple grand more than the starting price of an Infiniti JX 350 AWD.

Paint aside, our team has also divided itself on the matter of the Pathfinder's design, particularly when compared to the Infiniti JX with which it shares a platform and major mechanical bits. I again side with our Nissan, preferring its simple, smooth and wavy lines to the application of Infiniti's new design language – especially the pinched-cheeks grille – to a large crossover shape. At the very least, in this case I don't consider a vehicle's visuals to be adequate justification for the $12,600 that separates the starting prices of these closely related crossovers.

In fact, our near fully loaded Pathfinder is only a couple grand more than the starting price of an all-wheel-drive JX35 that wouldn't include things our Nissan does – features like navigation, headrest monitors, a Bose stereo and the always excellent Around View monitor. Like the argument one can make against nearly every Lincoln that's based on a Ford, the justification for the "luxury" model's price premium just isn't there when the mainstream brand's version is such a compelling option.



The Around View Monitor can be fun to activate during car washes.

Speaking of Nissan's Around View monitor, it remains one of our favorite pieces of tech introduced in the last few years and, in a segment of vehicles this large, it could very well help the Pathfinder stand out. I found it helpful not only when backing up, but also when pulling forward to get as close as possible to a parking garage wall or my own garage door. I also discovered that the Around View Monitor can be amusing to activate during car washes (above).

Since I have no children with which test the Pathfinder's family-schlepping prowess, I can't remark on how well it swallows strollers and keeps kids happy in the back seats. What I can say is that while the 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 coupled to Nissan's continuously variable transmission felt capable and confident when I was traveling solo, it exhibited signs of being overtaxed when filled with three other Autoblog team members and their gear during the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. I'll be eager to hear from those on the team with large families how the Pathfinder handles that type of load on a daily basis.



This crossover could sell in six-figure volumes each year.

Coincidentally, I was given the keys to the refreshed 2013 Chevrolet Traverse immediately after my time with our long-term Pathfinder, and it wasn't until driving these two three-row CUVs back-to-back did I appreciate what Nissan has done with the reinvention of its once-hardcore SUV. The Traverse felt old in many ways, from its choice of cabin materials, infotainment and safety technology, to the way it handled, which was considerably softer and floatier feeling than the Nissan. The Pathfinder, in contrast, looks fresh, feels well-built and offers truly advanced technology, all while handling confidently and riding comfortably.

In my time with it so far, the Pathfinder convinced me that if Nissan's assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee has the capacity, this crossover could sell in six-figure volumes each year, something the Traverse and its Lambda brothers didn't do in 2012 that would place the Pathfinder in the company of segment sales leaders like the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander. Let's see if my Autoblog colleagues agree with me in the months to come.

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