This time around, a couple of our colleagues from AOL Autos put hundreds of miles on our trusty Nissan. And while everyone agrees that the Pathfinder is a solid vehicle for the task of road tripping, there are a couple of specific pros and cons that have been mentioned on several occasions.
The Pathfinder's interior continues to garner lots of praise – it's quiet, comfortable and generally well-liked by everyone who's driven it thus far. The light-colored leather and door/dash panels give the cabin a very open, airy feeling, and after almost 9,000 miles of rigorous use, the materials look and feel just as good as they did when the Nissan first arrived in the long-term garage last December.
There are, however, some drawbacks. AOL Autos consumer editor Michael Zak spent a week with the Pathfinder traveling to northern Michigan and came back with the message, "So. Many. Buttons." He continued, "Looking at the center console and steering wheel for the first time is overwhelming and trying to find the correct button for climate control or the navigation menu while you're driving is downright distracting if you haven't taken the time to familiarize yourself with the layout."
"Making a call requires you to push the talk button several times as you navigate through the various menu options."
Translogic editor Adam Morath had some other complaints regarding the interior, but this time, the car's infotainment interface came into play, specifically the hands-free voice functions. "Each function requires that the steering-mounted voice-command button be pushed multiple times, with the occasional use of the back or cancel button for mistakes. For instance, making a call requires you to push the talk button several times as you navigate through the various menu options. First, the voice-command button is pushed to initiate the system, then to override instructions and say 'phone,' then to interrupt the system from reading off a list of options and say 'handset phonebook' (not the most intuitive command for those of us who refer to our device as a cellphone, not a handset). Finally, you say who you'd like to call (counterintuitively read last name, first name for most of my iPhone contacts), then pick the name from a list, and say 'dial' – as if you might get that far and decide the effort wasn't worth it."
That said, there are plenty of other aspects of the interior that our staff continues to love. Morath again: "The most standout feature is the Around View Monitor," something other writers have praised before. "The only downside to AVM is the temptation to look solely at the screen, rather than also relying on mirrors and an over-the-shoulder check. Piloting the Pathfinder using the system is a bit like playing a video game, which feels innovative, if a bit disconnected from reality."
We've commented on the ease of use for the sliding second row seats before, and there wasn't a single gripe to be had during the month of May regarding this functionality, either. However, the hands-free liftgate has given us pause a couple of times. Morath explains, "While the key fob remote and automatic liftgate buttons were convenient, the car will fight like hell if you try to close the hatch manually. I'm sure it's something an owner would get used to, but my passengers had to be reminded again and again to push the button rather than try to slam the liftgate by hand."
"The car will fight like hell if you try to close the hatch manually."
Of course, the other big factor in road trip prowess is the Nissan's road manners, and the Pathfinder continues to be viewed as a solid cruiser, if a bit uninspired (like everything else in the segment, really). Most of us just simply rate the overall dynamics as "okay," nothing more.
But on several occasions now, long-distance highway cruising has seen its share of troubles with our staff. "It didn't seem to take much of a breeze to knock the Pathfinder off its line," Zak writes, "causing a pretty regular need to readjust within the lane, which, on a four-hour road trip, became exhausting." Morath adds some more insight to this, saying, "I found that keeping the Pathfinder in a straight line required constant subtle steering adjustments. It's something that might go unnoticed at first, but once it was pointed out, I felt like we were bobbing from side to side for miles at a time."
With all this highway cruising, we haven't seen any real increase in our fuel economy numbers, either. A few of us have been able to hit digits close to the 25 miles per gallon highway EPA number, but we're still finding our average to be closer to the 19 mpg city rating. We'll do some more math later in the summer after a few more trips to see if this changes.
We haven't seen any real increase in our fuel economy numbers.
On the maintenance front, we've enjoyed yet another worry-free month of motoring in our Nissan, the crossover only requiring scheduled appointments – nothing out of the ordinary. June will see the Pathfinder make a few more treks, with trips to the west side of Michigan and the nation's east coast planned. Remember, you can always check the Autoblog Facebook and Twitter accounts for on-the-go impressions as we pack on the miles.