sl, red, 4wdAutomotive News Test Drive Reviews 

2015 Nissan Pathfinder Test Drive

Pros: Seats seven comfortably; great fuel economy for a mid-size crossover SUV; cavernous cabin space

Cons: Interior is a little plain

Competes with: Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, Dodge Durango, GMC Acadia, other three-row crossover SUVs.

Reasons to buy this vehicle…

– With seating for seven and as much as 79.8 cubic feet of cargo space, families will appreciate the comfort and space of the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder.

– Despite pushing out 260 horsepower from its 3.5-liter V6, the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder is rather fuel efficient with front-wheel drive models earning 27 MPG on the highway; an outstanding figure for a vehicle this size.

2015 Nissan Pathfinder

Today’s SUVs are packed with more features and technology than ever before. From standard third-row seating and advanced all-weather capabilities, to CVT and 9-speed automatic transmissions which help in achieving fuel economy figures that were previously unheard of for larger vehicles. Redesigned just a few years ago, the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder is a mid-size crossover SUV that incorporates style, luxury and utility into a package that seeks to fit the needs of buyers looking for a capable and well-appointed crossover vehicle.

Exterior

If you’re wondering why the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder looks so much like its Rogue and Murano siblings, the answer is easy – it’s based on the same platform. Nissan stylists didn’t try to reinvent the wheel here, and instead relied on brand-oriented styling that flowed with the rest of its product line. Riding on a 114.2-inch wheelbase and stretching to an overall length of just under 16.5-feet, the Pathfinder seats itself in direct competition with the Toyota Highlander and the new Honda Pilot.

A massive styling departure from its boxy predecessor, the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder employs organic flowing lines, a low step-in height and a nicely sculpted aerodynamic front end. Lower driving lights have been nicely integrated into the front bumper, while out back a large rear spoiler with black trim, chrome accents and a subtle rear trailer hitch (part of the tow package), let you know that the Pathfinder is still capable of doing truck-like chores. Split-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels riding on 235/65-series Continental Cross Contact tires fill the wheel wells nicely, while blacked out lower trim that runs the length of the vehicle helps to tie the entire package together.

Interior

Aside from a severe lack of color contrast, the interior of the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder is a wonderful place to be. In our SL-trimmed 2015 Nissan Pathfinder we found bits of painted plastic and faux wood inlays on the center console that try to break up the almond color interior.

For long journeys, the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder’s interior is very comfortable. Visibility all around is great thanks to a low beltline and large greenhouse windows. The driver’s seat offers 8-way power adjustments with lumbar and heat (4-way power for the passenger), the large analog gauges are clear and easy to read, the navigation system worked flawlessly and thanks to the Bose 13-speaker audio system, cranking your favorite tunes is a non-issue.

Most every full-size SUV these days offers third-row seating and the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder is no exception. Access to the third row is somewhat of a cumbersome ordeal and will be tight for adults over 5-feet 8-inches in height. Rear seat room is fine for full-size adults and in our tester offered up heating elements, a reclining seat back, a sliding seat bottom and its own set of climate controls. A console mounted 120-volt outlet is also available on the SL and makes for plugging in auxiliary devices a snap. Cargo capacity is ample as well, with a total of 79.8 cubic feet of space available with both rear seats folded down, or between 42.4 and 47.8 cubic feet with just the third row seat folded down.

Performance

Getting 26 mpg highway out of an SUV weighing in at 4,506 pounds is tough. However, by combining a direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 with a well-designed continuously variable transmission, Nissan has managed to do just that. Known as the Xtronic CVT, this transmission actually simulates the gear changes of that of a standard automatic unit. It’s not until full-throttle is employed or a steep grade is encountered that you’ll realize that something is different. It’s one of the best CVTs we’ve encountered.

Power output is 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, and is sent directly to the front wheels unless our testers 4×4 mode was engaged. The 4×4 mode employs two settings: The first will transfer power to the rear wheels as needed, while the second setting sends exactly 50-percent of the engine’s power to both the front and rear wheels. Engagement via the console-mounted dial is seamless. Towing capacity is quite good as well for a CVT-equipped SUV and is rated at 5,000 lbs.

Once on the road consumers are treated to competent handling manners, a nice ride and confidence inspiring braking. Steering feel has been improved and now delivers feedback that’s much firmer than before, thus resulting in a better overall driving experience.

Overall

Setting yourself apart from the jellybean SUVs of today is not easy; however, Nissan is taking their best shot. While not breaking new ground in the styling department, the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder does offer up a well-appointed interior, great gas mileage and a driving experience that fits right in line with its as tested price of $40,575 (MSRP).

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