PATHFINDER silhouette copyWhen a company says “we listened to our customers,” they have my ear. Did they really listen? And will they deliver what the customer wants? This was Nissan’s approach during a retrenchment–a terrible few years during the global recession and after suffering damage from the tsunami and earthquake last year–the carmaker took the approach of turning adversity into opportunity by focusing on redesigning a number of its models. In doing this, they asked car buyers what they want in a full sized SUV.And here’s where it gets good: they then challenged their designers and engineers to be crafty and innovative and take those wish lists further: create a car that not only checks the boxes of customer’s wishes, but make it intuitive; give them want they want and then give them what they want next. 

rear seat heaters and plugHeated center row seats make for happy passengers. The household plug means the the kids won’t drain my iPad battery (yay!)What they came up with in the redesigned 2013 Pathfinder is an SUV that plays to each passenger’s needs and also to the driver’s ego: an SUV with minivan amenities, SUV machismo and modern touches including better fuel efficiency (due to a 500 pound weight reduction), cutting edge media technology and luxuries previously only available in luxury cars. They tried to include everything in this car.  

The idea looks great on paper, but is it great in reality? We drove the new Pathfinder last week and liked it so much we were sad we had to return it (that they had us driving around the vineyards and picturesque villages of Napa Valley didn’t hurt; I could have stayed forever).

Nissan incorporated every popular feature from across the company’s car models that made sense, and even brought over some of the luxury features from Infiniti (Heated rear seats, anyone? Heated steering wheel? Three pronged electrical outlet?). Then, they incorporated the wish list items by building roomier second and third rows; increasing fuel efficiency through reducing the car’s weight by 500 pounds, increasing its aerodynamics, tweaking the CVT transmission and customizing its 2 wheel/4 wheel drive system; and they improved the driving experience, tow capacity and cargo space by redesigning the Pathfinder’s bones. What they ended up with is a muscular but sophisticated truck that flatters the ego and the intellect of the driver and her passengers alike.

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Back up cameraBack up camera and 360 degree birds eye view lets you know if you’re about to hit a curb (or something else!)What We Loved: 

-The price: About $40,000 fully loaded (pricing starts at $28,000)
Nissan Connect media console: satellite radio, Bluetooth for phone, Pandora, Google Local search (to find restaurants, retail, etc)
-Backup camera with 360 degree round view monitoring allows the driver to see all objects near the car
-Lots of legroom in second and third rows
-Latch and glide system that slides center row seats forward easily, even when a child’s car seat is installed in the center row
-Lots of cargo space behind the third row
-260 horsepower V6 engine (towing/hills/7 passengers won’t be a struggle)
-3-zone entertainment system: you don’t have to listen to pop music OR your toddler’s DVDs (and they can control the system themselves!)
-Regular plain old household electrical outlet (and, four cigarette style charge ports too!)
-USB  and A/V game ports
-2WD or 4WD: your choice (or let the Pathfinder choose)
-Panorama moon roof
-Takes regular gas
ULEV emissions (practically emission free)
-Keyless entry and automatic lift gate
-Second row seats are 60/40 fold down; third row seats are 50/50 fold down

Instrument clusterThe Pathfinder’s instrument panel gives necessary details as well as critical (or fun) operational infoWhat You Need To Know:

-Fuel economy, while improved, is still 19 or 20 MPG city
-Third row accessible only when center row seat slides forward
-When third row head rests are up, rely on side mirrors; they partially obstruct the driver’s view from the rear view mirror
-Cargo space with third row up is 16 cubic feet–enough for groceries or perhaps some sports equipment; 42 cubic feet with third row down, and 80 cubic feet with both rows folded flat.

Disclosure: Nissan provided travel and accommodations for SheBuysCars to review the 2013 Pathfinder; opinions expressed here are all our own.