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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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 71 Comments
      axiomatik
      • 1 Year Ago
      The color is a "mature" choice? I think the word you were looking for is "bland".
      over9000
      • 1 Year Ago
      Obviously the target audience of this vehicle is not a male in his 20's, as demonstrated by the comments.
        Xi Gua
        • 1 Year Ago
        @over9000
        Perhaps. But these days males in their 20s are typically unemployment or underemployed and are boytoys of their significant others.
        leo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @over9000
        yeap, fits perfectly for a family with mare than one kid..so does a minivan, but my wife wont drive one and i ain't letting go of my G, so when we do have a second kid this will likely replace her Murano Already driven the lambadas and she finds them way to lazy and cumbersome so glad to hear this is more responsive, and it's only about 150lbs heavier than the Murano (which explains why the 4800+lb lambadas are very lethargic by comparison) also we don't care about towing and my wife loves the CVT in her Murano, and swears will never drive another automatic
          BG
          • 1 Year Ago
          @leo
          I'm sorry for you that your lovely wife will not swear off both automatics and CVTs entirely - and go for manual. Ah, one could only dream...
        J*zz Muff
        • 1 Year Ago
        @over9000
        As a male who's about to turn 27, I'm taking delivery of an Equinox 2LT on Saturday. I can see how you'd want larger if you had kids (I don't, yet).
      PACMK02
      • 1 Year Ago
      I basically agree with the author. My only problem with this Pathfinder is its bland styling and that it looks dated already. But I think Nissan will sell a bunch of them anyway if the price is right.
      fragmit50
      • 1 Year Ago
      Cool van.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      Beardinals
      • 1 Year Ago
      I fond myself perplexed at the 3rd row headrests.
        Beardinals
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Beardinals
        I mean "find" of course. Although, I am slightly fond of myself too. Thanks for the edit button Autoblog!
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      Carbon copy SUV no.873645345, another SUV for people that really don't car about SUVs.
      Richard
      • 1 Year Ago
      CVT always sucks. Always. And no one who knows anything about cars will ever disagree.
        mark
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Richard
        Not everyone is a race car driver, a CVT works for alot of people that commute. Its smooth, quite, and problem free for my hour drive 5 days a week. Now on the weekends I park it, and bring the fun car out. But thats just me, and my view on a CVT.
        ronnie
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Richard
        I guess it depends on what you want that car to do. I know many that would agree with you, but many who have been converted. Many who travel a lot for work prefer the CVT because of the better fuel economy and the quite ride on the highway. CVT's such as this Xtronic have a higher gear ratio so you are going to be able to cruise at 75 at around 1800 rpm. It also tackles hills much more efficiently and technically could pull load more efficiently if they wanted. It also could be considered better by a race car driver if you paired it with a bigger engine. Mainly because a CVT will keep the engine in the peak range for torque output; however, I think a DSG is better for that. That said, CVT's are banned in formula racing because it would give a racer an unfair advantage over someone with a geared automatic or stick. Just look at the four banger 2013 Altima it has best in class 0-60, well.... until you start throwing it against 4's that are DI and have a turbo. I'd expect Nissan to downsize their 2.5 in the next refresh to a 2.0 with a turbo like Ford is doing now, but the point remains.
      TwinTurbo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Stupid Nissan with their unibody changes to the Pathfinder. Don't they know everyone who has made these comments on this new Pathfinder appreciated it's low fuel economy, juddery ride and was a Dakar rally driver on their weekends? Every single one! I kid you not. People don't lie on the internet to make themselves look better or more macho. I am sure every person reading this now drives a stick shift too. Honest!
      Jeff S.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I test drove the Pathfinder, JX, Explorer, Flex, Traverse and Enclave extensively this past fall (JX had just come out. ). The JX felt the most luxurious in terms of materials and I went into the comparison thinking we would end up with one. However, after several back to back tests our family settled on the Flex, which was a genuine surprise to me. We love it every time we take it out, the only thing that I liked better on the Nissans was the surround camera system. I agree with the Author of this article, the Traverse is dated, and was never a serious contender after its initial test drive.
        BB79826
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jeff S.
        The Traverse is easily one of Chevy's most competitive models. The Explorer was dated when it came out, with the worst handling in its class. But I bet you love your Flex -- great vehicle.
          merlot066
          • 1 Year Ago
          @BB79826
          There is absolutely nothing dated about the Explorer. They also fixed the handling last year. "The electric power steering is accurate and naturally weighted, and its solid mounting does not transfer any shocks or vibration to the steering wheel. The system is a noticeable improvement over the tiller on the XLT that finished second in a comparison test." - C&D
        MacProMan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jeff S.
        my brother and his family have a Flex, I love the way they look and drive and so spacious inside. I would look at the models you listed but likely also choose the Flex
      buckfeverjohnson
      • 1 Year Ago
      "...this crossover could sell in six-figure volumes each year, something the Traverse and its Lambda brothers didn't do in 2012" Curious sentiment. First, the Lambda siblings sold 249,000 variations last year. Badge engineering makes it hard to win segment volumes. Second, why do people care about model volumes. I see the commercials by Ford and Toyota for their best sellers, but I don't understand it. Is it a sort of reassurance that others can make this purchase decision, so you should too? Does it turn off half the people because they don't want to be part of the crowd?
        merlot066
        • 1 Year Ago
        @buckfeverjohnson
        Toyota is a volume leader by offering bland yet acceptable vehicles for a variety of people. Ford is a volume leader by offering a wide selection of models, engines, and features to meet many people's specific desires. There is a difference. If you want to drive an Acura RL just to be different go ahead. I don't think I'd feel like part of the crowd if I bought an Explorer Sport or a two-tone Flex compared to something straight-up bland and uninspired like this Murano or a Traverse.
        John Neff - Autoblog
        @buckfeverjohnson
        I don't think it's fair to lump all three Lambda models together and compare their combined sales against one nameplate like the Explorer or Pathfinder. While all three Lambdas are similar, too similar for my taste, they look different, are priced and packaged differently, and sold through different dealers, all of which is enough to judge them based on their own sales performance.
      merlot066
      • 1 Year Ago
      I still don't understand why you wouldn't pick the Explorer or Grand Cherokee/Durango (or one of the new Minivans) if you were going to test a family vehicle. There is abosolutely nothing remarkable about the new Pathfinder. The only thing that makes it any different than any other 3-row crossover out there is the CVT. The Explorer especially has so many unique features that you could have tested at length and reported about (EcoBoost mileage and reliability, MyFord Touch usability after a few months, Terrain Management in snow and everyday use) or even the Durango with the HEMI or the Grand Cherokee and its true off-road prowess. Or you could have gotten a minivan and let us know what it's really like to drive a minivan for a year. Both your Jetta TDIs were interesting because of the powertrain and the controversial redesign when you bought the second one. The Equus was interesting because we were all curious to see what it would be like to drive a $60k Hyundai long-term. The most exciting part of the new Pathfinder will be seeing how well it sells compared to other bland entries like the Traverse.
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