2014 Nissan Pathfinder Walk Around
The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder's dimensions certainly expanded compared to its predecessor, but it's hard to see at a glance, thanks to smooth styling that's a little more streamlined and a little less utilitarian than the previous generation. The modest fender flares and wide stance suggest muscle, which is an overstatement. On the other hand, the Pathfinder body has been carefully sculpted for aerodynamics (as noted, 0.34 Cd), as well as suppression of wind noise. Use of front and rear spoilers, as well as rear tire deflectors and rear-suspension fairings, helps achieve that level of slipperiness through the air.
Thin A- and D-pillars, plus a low beltline, give the cabin an airy feeling, and the wide chrome grille is unmistakably Nissan. Except for chrome door handles and a couple of horizontal trim strips, brightwork is modest. The optional dual panorama moonroof (power retractable front portion, fixed rear) adds to the wide-open feel of the interior, and there's a power sunshade for the rear portion if/when the sun gets a little intense.
As you'd expect, expanded dimensions pay off in expansive interior volume. Nissan claims best-in-class passenger volume, but probably the biggest beneficiary is the middle row, which offers more leg and elbow room, as well as 5.5 inches of fore/aft adjustability. Nissan also worked to make third-row access easier, including times when child seats may be occupying the middle row. Flip the seatback forward, child seat and all, and there's plenty of room to climb into the rearmost seats.
Easy access doesn't make that third row much more habitable, though. Like most, it's pretty snug, especially for adult-size people, though reclinable seatbacks help some what.
Like all SUVs, the Pathfinder's second- and third-row seats fold flat to expand cargo volume, to almost 80 cubic feet. There's 16 cubic feet behind the third row seatbacks, with a small storage well beneath the floor.
The relaxed-fit front seats are comfortable, with only modest lateral support, though this isn't likely to matter since no one will confuse this vehicle with a sports car. Besides, lower bolsters make getting in and out easier. The front seats are available with both heating and cooling functions, and there's heating for the middle row. Leather is available in upper trim levels, though the basic model's seats are clad in a high-grade cloth.
With pricing that can cross the $40,000 threshold, the Pathfinder's available inventory includes a broad array of features: an excellent 13-speaker Bose audio, 8-inch center-dash color display screen, the Panorama moonroof, a user-friendly navigation system with real-time traffic info, and Nissan's Around View security camera prominent among them. Unfortunately, all of them are optional: Standard features are relatively minimalistic, particularly in the lower trim levels, S and SV.
Around View, as noted, costs extra. The system involves four cameras that monitor what's happening in a 360-degree arc around the vehicle. Shared with the Infiniti JX (renamed QX60 for 2014), Nissan has characterized this as an industry first, although both Lexus and Range Rover offer similar systems. But it's definitely a first for this segment, and is likely to save the lives of a good many small dogs, cats, Big Wheels, and Cozy Coupes. Conspicuous by its absence is the Infiniti JX model's assist system, which alerts the driver to cross traffic or pedestrians during back-up maneuvers.
Beyond content issues, the Pathfinder's attractively furnished cabin has an open feel, as noted earlier, even without the big sunroof, thanks to the low beltline. The slender front and rear roof pillars contribute to good driver sightlines, particularly looking forward. Furthermore, the center stack includes an intelligent mix of buttons and knobs, in contrast to the all-digital touch controls becoming popular elsewhere.