Car Review: 2015 Nissan Pathfinder

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The 2015 Nissan Pathfinder took a twisted path to arrive at my doorstep.

2015 Nissan Pathfinder
2015 Nissan Pathfinder

For those who remember the original Pathfinder, you know it was basically a truck. It was designed to do battle in the rough and ready days in the beginning of the SUV craze. Back then folks wanted them rugged, and the Pathfinder delivered.

That was back in 1985. Ten years later Nissan saw the future and realized that SUV buyers were more likely to spend their time on highways than byways. As a result, the Pathfinder got more of a car style chassis.

A decade later, Nissan switched back to the truck style, body on frame chassis. The big concession to family transportation was a new third row of seating.

2015 Nissan Pathfinder
Pleasant Interior Was Very Comfortable

Well apparently, going back to that whole truck thing was just a fling. Kind of like the Macarena. Nissan has decided that it’s future really lay in the not too distant past and decided to go back to the civilized world of car based SUVs. The result is a Pathfinder that shares the same basis chassis as the as the Altima and the Maxima. In fact, Nissan is now calling this a CUV which stands for Crossover Utility Vehicle.

I mention that because if you’ve driven a Pathfinder in the past, it’s important to know what you’re getting today. The current generation is made for getting your family around town and driving nicely maintained highways to grandma’s house. I say that because it’s a good thing. Not many people buy SUVs to bounce along bumpy dirt roads. While the Pathfinder can do that, that’s not its goal in life.

2015 Nissan Pathfinder
Love those 3-row SUVs!

I’m a fan of three-row SUVs, so right off the bat the Pathfinder fits my basic requirement. It’s not that I use that third row very much, but when I do there is no replacement. When you don’t need the extra seating, it just folds flat. Why wouldn’t you want it?

The entire Pathfinder range only has one engine choice. You get a 260 horsepower, 3.5 liter V6. To be honest, that’s not a lot of umph compared to the other competitors in this segment. It will get you around, but it won’t wow you. That partially because it’s mated to a continuously variable transmission. That’s good for mileage, but tends to leave you wondering when the power is going to kick in. Speaking of mileage, the Pathfinder gets 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. My week with the car averaged 23 mpg which is right where it’s supposed to be.

Inside the Pathfinder is pleasant. My test car had the captains chairs in the second row which gave it a little more of an upscale feel. It means you lose a seat, but it’s great for families who need to hand stuff from row to row or maneuver in and out of seating. Overall the interior fits into the middle range. Not cheap, but not trying to pretend it’s a luxury car. After all, Nissan has Infiniti if people want to move up the ladder.

2015 Nissan Pathfinder
260 Horsepower is good, but not great.

While my test car was a 2015, the 2016 Pathfinder starts at just under $30,000. If you want more goodies you can work your way up to the $41,500 Platinum edition.

The mid to full-sized SUV (or CUV) world is a crowded place. I’m not sure that the Pathfinder has anything that makes it stand out. On the other hand, I don’t think it disappoints. It does everything that you’ll want that family hauler to do and you won’t feel that you’re missing out.

So while it may have been a twisted path to get here, heading into the future the Pathfinder is right where it needs to be.

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