2013 Nissan Pathfinder rear 3/4 - long term vehicle

Over the past few months, we've talked a lot about how our long-term 2013 Nissan Pathfinder functions as a daily-driver, long-hauler and all-weather warrior. And so far, it's earning high praise from most of us for being a well-rounded, pleasant vehicle in these regards. But the vast majority of people who actually go out and buy a Pathfinder will do so because of its people-and-stuff-carrying abilities. Nissan specifically engineered the new Pathfinder to be a softer, more widely appealing crossover than the sort of rugged SUV that it was before, and in doing so, the company is hoping its new CUV will find homes in the garages of many American families.

We needed to get some family impressions of the new Pathfinder, and fast.

Thing is, many of us Autobloggers live the kid-free life – at least that's true of most of us in the Detroit area where the Pathfinder currently resides. We have no doubts that the Pathfinder will get a proper family road trip workout from west coast editor Michael Harley after it shuffles over to the left side of the country, and it might also do a jaunt to North Carolina this summer with executive editor Chris Paukert and his family before it leaves the area, but in the meantime, we needed to get some family impressions of the new Pathfinder, and fast.

For the past couple of weeks, we handed our long-termer over to Autoblog and AOL Autos general manager and VP, Chris Eschenburg, who promised us lots of wife-and-kid impressions about this family-friendly vehicle.

2013 Nissan Pathfinder side profile
2013 Nissan Pathfinder second row seats2013 Nissan Pathfinder second row seats folded forward

Right off the bat, Eschenburg digs the Pathfinder "because it has the functionality of a minivan without the stigma." That said, he notes that most people didn't find the vehicle particularly good-looking – a sentiment that some of us on the Autoblog staff agree with.

"It has the functionality of a minivan without the stigma."

But stepping inside, there's a lot to love about the Pathfinder's cabin, especially from a people-schlepping point of view.

"The second row really deserves credit. While it isn't the awesomeness of Chrysler's Stow N Go, it is one of the more functional and unique setups I've encountered – easy to slide the row forward and aft, one pull to drop it down and create a shelf, or an easy one-handed operation to give third row passengers access. The second row really drives the ease of the entire interior experience."

2013 Nissan Pathfinder cargo area behind third-row seat2013 Nissan Pathfinder storage area under load floor
2013 Nissan Pathfinder cargo area behind second row seat2013 Nissan Pathfinder total cargo area

Beyond the second row, the Pathfinder proved willing and able for instances of cargo-hauling. Behind that first row of seats, there's a maximum of 79.8 cubic feet – plenty of room carrying all sorts of things.

Behind that first row of seats, there's a maximum of 79.8 cubic feet – plenty of room carrying all sorts of things.

"I hauled a rooftop cargo carrier in the back, box and all, without having to move the driver or passenger seats forward," Eschenburg notes. But when it came time to seal the rear hatch and move on, some problems came up, namely regarding the power liftgate.

"The tailgate is impossible to close under manual power. Once it's up, it requires some serious muscle to get it down. And then to put the auto-close button at the highest possible point makes for a frustrating routine for smaller folks (like my wife)." Indeed, we've seen better solutions from the likes of Ford, with tailgate operation buttons placed on the walls of the cargo area, near the controls for the power-folding third row seats.

2013 Nissan Pathfinder front 3/4

"For the type of duty the Pathfinder sees, you'll never really know that it struggles when pushed hard."

As for driving dynamics, Eschenburg's thoughts stack up well with ours. "For the type of duty the Pathfinder sees, you'll never really know that it struggles when pushed hard. But the long wheelbase and low center of gravity makes for a very unremarkable ride, which is what you are looking for in this segment."

"Overall, the Pathfinder proved to be a great all-around vehicle," Chris summarizes. "Tell Nissan I sold a Pathfinder to a friend coming out of an Odyssey, but only after I convinced him that Nissan is as American as Honda. The Pathfinder performed all of its duties without missing a beat."