I took the keys to our long-term 2013 Nissan Pathfinder from Editor-in-Chief Neff (who left me with an empty gas tank, for the record) directly following the Detroit Auto Show. That means that, by the time you all read this, I'll have been in possession of the Pathfinder for more time, and driven it more miles than any Autoblogger so far. I'd like to think that I've made good use of it... with one small exception.

For those of you that live outside of the Snow Belt and who may routinely ignore the Weather Channel out of cocky certainty – I'm looking at you, American Southwest – there's been some real weather in our part of the world this winter. A year ago, I'd basically packed up my shovel and my driveway salt by Valentine's Day; while the last quarter of 2012 and beginning of 2013 have seen back-wrenching piles of snow fall on and around my Michigan home. Good times, in other words, to test the all-weather capabilities of our all-wheel-drive Pathfinder.

On both trips around the horn of Lake Michigan, we found ourselves caught in the teeth of lake-effect snowstorms.

The first real test came on a long and unplanned road trip I was bound to make – driving to the western edge of Wisconsin for a family funeral. The trip from Ann Arbor, MI to Platteville, WI is just about 450 miles door-to-door, and is bisected by one of the most snowbound stretches of highway in the country. Anyone familiar with the greater Chicago area can tell you that the travel corridor immediately to the south of Lake Michigan, as well as for long stretches east and west of it, can get brutal with snowfall.

And, true to form, on both the westbound and eastbound trips around the horn of the lake, my wife Molly and I found ourselves caught in the teeth of lake-effect snowstorms. Slick, icy roads get covered by layers of snow in these conditions; leading to lots of driving with very poor visibility, strong gusting winds and treacherous surfaces. In cases like these, I'm always glad to have an AWD vehicle under me, at least to mitigate the slipping and sliding. But if I'm completely honest, our it was our tester's Bridgestone all-season "sport" rubber that had me nervous.

Snow-covered 2013 Nissan Pathfinder long-term vehicle - rear three-quarter view
Snow-covered Nissan badge on long-term 2013 PathfinderSnow-covered taillamp on long-term 2013 PathfinderSnow-covered tire on long-term 2013 Pathfinder

We managed to move along with the fastest-traffic that the conditions would allow.

I shouldn't have been. With the exception of a few intentional dabs of the brakes to test out the road surface, and one or two meandering seconds when changing lanes in drifting snow, the Pathfinder was sure-footed through both storms. There wasn't a lot that the Nissan could do, sadly, about the blowing snow in the air, nor the rest of the drivers on the road, but we did manage to move along with the fastest traffic that the conditions would allow. What's more, despite our return trip morphing from about seven hours to almost eleven (I-94 was completely stopped by the police at some points), neither Molly nor I could complain much about sore backs or bottoms thanks to our Nissan's comfortable, supportive seating.

For the full trip out to Platteville and back, mostly on interstates and county roads, I recorded 21.2 miles per gallon. That's lower than the EPA highway rating of 25 mpg, but not all that bad considering the stop-and-go stuff for hours around the lake was more like city-driving, and that I was pushing hard to cover distance when the roads were clear. On clear roads with at posted speeds, I would anticipate coming far closer to that 25-mpg figure. What's more, I very quickly forgot about the still-sometimes-annoying sounds of the CVT-modulated engine – the transmission might be worth the economy gains, I guess.

Long-term 2013 Nissan Pathfinder underslung spare tire
Long-term 2013 Nissan Pathfinder jack storageLong-term 2013 Nissan Pathfinder spare tire crankSeyth Miersma's boo-boo

I got to "test" putting on the space-saver spare tire that usually lives on the bottom back side of the vehicle.

While the truly grueling snowy driving was a success, I was mildly less fortunate more recently. Driving the two miles from my gym back to the homestead, I somehow plowed right into a large chunk of ice on the road. The debris was solid enough to do a number on the Pathfinder's front tire and wheel. If I'm searching for a silver lining to my own cockup, it's that I got to "test" putting on the space-saver spare tire that usually lives on the bottom backside of the vehicle; accessible in typical SUV fashion via a crank that lowers the tire to the ground on a thick piece of wire. All in, the biggest problems were the size of the wheel – a 20-inch Pathfinder dub is no small thing to chuck around, even for a large Dutchman (nevermind my gym attire in the 20-degree weather). Don't change a tire in shorts, guys. Still, I consider it a testament to the slowly developing modernity of in-car jack and lug wrenches that I suffered only one bloody knuckle in the whole process.

Getting the wheel and tire replaced was a lot more painful for the Autoblog wallet than it was for my hand, however. The 235-section Bridgestone Dueler Sport all-season tire was a nifty $253.75, while the new wheel set us back a sobering $813.55. With labor and tax, that meant a $1,200-plus bill. Sorry, boss. On the plus side, the service department at my local Nissan dealership in Ann Arbor is staffed with super nice folks (probably because they're all so well paid).

Here's hoping that the next team member to take the Pathfinder keys has better luck with random encounters.


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  • 35 Comments
      kennethm3
      • 1 Year Ago
      They should give it a name commensurate with its appearance; the Camry wagon. Wait, it's a Nissan so Altima Wagon then because overweight fat looking Sentra wagon won't fit on the liftgate.
      JF
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why does a tall wagon need 20 inch wheels?
        brgtlm
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JF
        I agree - just makes the ride rougher, makes tires and rims more expensive and a greater chance something will damage them . At some point rim sizes just need to stop growing.
          reattadudes
          • 1 Year Ago
          @brgtlm
          a rim is the edge of something, like the RIM on a cup. a wheel has a RIM, but an entire wheel is not a "rim". do you say, "fill my RIM with coffee?"
          • 1 Year Ago
          @brgtlm
          [blocked]
        Ok
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JF
        For the appearance I guess. But I'd rather have the more comfortable ride that would presumably come with smaller wheel than the slight increase in the CUV's cornering limits the 20s provide.
      Henry
      • 1 Year Ago
      Some people may not understand why some are against the unibody and this design direction. Pathfinder has always been perceived as a rugged SUV, and put bluntly, a man's SUV without offending some people. The pathfinder is akin to Toyota's 4Runner but the current 4Runner visually, is the most rugged of all the 4Runners whereas the Pathfinder went the soft roadie way. There is a reason why they both sell very in the secondary markets especially in third world countries. I seriously doubt that this new Pathfinder will ever repeat the cult following the first Pathfinder created nor the last generation's in certain paths of the world even though they were built for the American market. As far as I am concerned, Toyota 4Runner beckons even though I have never owned one.
      Snark
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm sorry, I couldn't read this because I was so distracted by how awesome it is to be wearing shorts in southern New Mexico right now.
      Jan Calloway
      • 1 Year Ago
      tall station wagon! so so sad!!!!!!!!!
        Snark
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jan Calloway
        Sad? What the hell are you talking about? People BUY tall station wagons.
        tinted up
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jan Calloway
        You might think it looks like one, but it sure doesn't drive like one.
      RGT881
      • 1 Year Ago
      Don't care about another fat SUV.
        Snark
        • 1 Year Ago
        @RGT881
        But you took the time to click, scroll down, and make a post to show us all how cool you are.
      tktnuri
      • 1 Year Ago
      Test drove boh the 2012 Pathfinder and 2013 Pathfinder and I even spoke with a coworker about the 2013 specifically at lunch today. The 2013 Pathfinder is one quiet smooth ride, granted I am in CA so no snow or ice to deal with on the day of the drive. My problem with this vehicle was both price and ammentities as tested it was $28,000 with a dealer discount. It has great EPA rated gas mileage but no juice. Merging onto the HWY at speed was a task it doesn\'t do well and that was on a ramp going down. THere is no power to be had with the fuelk efficient model. I can\'t imagine loading the car up with family and add tow a boat and expect safe travels. Besides the quiet cabin and limited road noise I just wasn\'t sold. WIth the third row up there isn\'t enough storage for a family of six or more. I tested the 2013 first then the 2012 which has lower fuel economy but a larger engine. You could tell it drove like a truck was loud and clunky with only 20 miles on the odometer. But it too lacked in the power standpoint and for a price tag of around $40k the last thing I want to have it lacking is power. I own a 2005 XC90 with the T6 motor and it blows both brand new Pathfinders out of the water. It has nearly 95k miles on it and more standard features than the Pathfinders. I also have a family of 6 so I\'d like to hear if AB tested the third row seating and passenger storage. I liked t
        foxtrot685
        • 1 Year Ago
        @tktnuri
        I am willing to bet that your T6 XC90 is just as fast as the Pathfinder. The difference is, going from a turbo to an NA motor, torque is much more instant in the boosted motor. This gives the perception that its fast where as the Pathfinder will have to rev out a bit more to get its torque. I have never read any publication or owner review that has had issue with the 3.5L VQ engine power.
      Patrick
      • 1 Year Ago
      $813 for a new wheel??? What the sh^*?!? This is a Nissan, yes?
      bullitt2605
      • 1 Year Ago
      Both my neighbors have Pathfinders, one is a 2011 and the other is a 2013. I like them both and the 13 is much better in person. Our good friends bought an Infinity JX and I think I like the looks of the PF better. They both have really skinny tires though which I assume is for gas saving.
        CBJMNWLD
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bullitt2605
        I\'m Bullitt and all my friends own Nissans... hmmmmnnn Live near Nashville much? #paidbloggerfail
          bullitt2605
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CBJMNWLD
          What did you fall down drunk on your keyboard and that\'s how you got your user name. Not a paid blogger at all.
      BMW ROCKS!
      • 1 Year Ago
      nice minivan
      Patty White Spencer
      • 1 Year Ago
      i watched the pathfinder grow from 1986 to 2001 when it evolved from a 2door to a 4 door. i wanted one soooooo badly when the 4 door finally came out. i finally got me a 2001 model. i owned it for 4 years. had to get rid of it. it officially belonged to the noise of the month club. you can imagine my disappointment. i am ready to try again for another pathfinder. love the new look.
      zizixx89
      • 1 Year Ago
      Since they have CVT and AWD figured out. Wonder if they would apply that to the 2014 maxima
        tinted up
        • 1 Year Ago
        @zizixx89
        AWD would move more cars for sure. The big question is if they would recoup the development costs with whatever the additional sales would be.
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