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Nissan Pathfinder

Mudfest 2013: Tom's Hardware Helps Test 23 SUVs

Out of all the cars submitted by manufacturers for Mudfest, Nissan took the cake with the one that didn't belong. It sent over a 2013 Pathfinder SL. Although previous generations were known for their off-road prowess, the latest version sheds the truck-based platform in favor of a software car platform, shared with the Murano and JX35 we reviewed in 2013 Infiniti JX35: Getting Us One Step Closer To A Driverless Car. The Pathfinder we tested didn't even have all-wheel drive. Nissan rubbed more salt in the wound by sending a front-wheel drive model to an on- and off-road competition. Mini’s two-door Cooper S Paceman ALL4 made more sense.

Opening the door reveals an interior nearly identical to the Infiniti JX35, but with lesser-quality materials. The infotainment system consists of a seven-inch center display with an awful QVGA resolution, and the usual CD player, radio, and Sirius satellite radio. Why Nissan bothered to install an antiquated display in a vehicle it charges $35,000 for is beyond comprehension. The text and graphics come out pixelated and aren't anti-aliased at all. I've seen better quality from VHS tapes. This just isn't acceptable for the price.

On the plus side, the fourth-gen iPad with its Lightning connector had no trouble playing music back through the Pathfinder's infotainment system. But because the Bluetooth module is completely separate from the infotainment system, it required annoying voice commands to get paired up, disappointingly.

The Pathfinder features Nissan's corporate 3.5-liter V6 paired with a CVT. The powertrain is smooth, but the motor does have to move a heavy vehicle, so this doesn't end up being a very quick vehicle. Driving the Pathfinder was fairly boring; the soft-roader doesn’t have a single athletic bone in its body. We were hesitant to push it too hard on the road or dirt courses due to a lack of rear traction and the natural tendency to understeer.

The Pathfinder is handsome-looking with its clean, subtle lines. There’s not much aggression in the front end, but it should appeal to the soccer mom contingent.

Vehicle Specifications
2013 Nissan Pathfinder
Trim level
3.5 L V6 (VQ35)
Front-wheel drive
Seven-inch information display center
Notable features
Rear-view camera
Fuel economy
20 city, 26 highway, 22 combined
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