Test Drive: 2018 Nissan Pathfinder
Entry Price: $31,040
Price As Tested: $47,840
This week we’re driving the improved 2018 Nissan Pathfinder, delivered in top line Platinum trim with 4WD mechanicals. Listed as a midsize SUV by the folks at Nissan, this enhanced-for-2018 is as close to a larger size SUV as you can get, especially considering its three rows of standard seating, spacious interior and wheelbase dimensions.
The Nissan nameplate (formerly Datsun) has been around now for some 60 years in the U.S., and is still dedicated to providing a variety of vehicles for consumers of all ages. Today, the modern-era Pathfinders provide outstanding comfort and impressive 4WD abilities for those who enjoy weekends in the wilderness.
Most important is that you don’t need $40,000-plus to get into a Pathfinder. The well-equipped entry S starts at $31,040 and the second-in-line SV retails for $33,730 and features the exact same mechanicals as the upper crust siblings. The SL series starts at $37,750, while a Midnight Edition 4x4 with black style cues goes for $40,835. Platinum models start at $42,570 and if you want 4WD add another $1,700 to the above prices.
Completely restyled last year, new for 2018 are standard features like automatic emergency braking and a novel “rear door alert” that reminds Pathfinder owners to check for anything left in the rear seat from babies to pets to groceries. Your Nissan dealer will explain this new feature when you visit and Nissan plans on adding this safety feature to all models in the future.
Another upgrade for 2018 worth mentioning is the addition of standard intelligent cruise control and Nissan Connect with navigation on SL and above models.
Actually, this new, more comfortable generation Pathfinder arrived when corporate decided to revamp the chassis about six years ago from truck to car-like. Specifically, Pathfinders used to rely on Nissan’s sturdy truck chassis that made for excellent off-road and towing use but lacked in the creature comfort and smooth ride capability.
As consumer demands changed and SUVs and Crossovers became the norm, Nissan changed Pathfinder’s chassis by integrating a car-like unibody frame that immediately delivered a more comfortable ride. The result is exactly what Nissan hoped for as consumers found that purchasing a “modern day” Pathfinder was more enticing to all age groups. Although tow mass dropped from 7,000 pounds to a still respectable 6,000 pounds, if you need more tow abilities check out the full size 9,000-pound. haul capacity Nissan Armada (that we are scheduled to review in July).
All Pathfinders come powered by a fine running 3.5-liter V6 that produces a stout 284-horses and 259 lb. ft. of torque. Pathfinders deliver decent fuel mileage at 20 city and 26 highway in two-wheel drive or 19 city and 26 highway with the 4x4. An Xtronic CVT overdrive automatic transmission transfers the power, which is noteworthy as the V6 pulls with authority.
On the 4WD models, Nissan’s intuitive and switchable 4x4 system allows 2WD, Auto and 4WD lock modes. The 2WD is front drive only, while in Auto mode Pathfinder is fully automatic and applies power between front and rear axles as needed. The full-time 4WD lock is utilized for off-road duty or when weather turns bad.
Standard equipment on all Pathfinders include tri-zone air conditioning, SiriusXM radio with three months free, streaming audio, six USB ports, 18-inch tires on alloy wheels, keyless entry, push button start, cruise, rearview safety camera, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link with three years free service (not to be confused with SiriusXM satellite radio), 60/40-split second-row, tilt-and-telescopic steering and a nice six-speaker stereo with CD player.
All Pathfinders also come with Nissan’s EZ Flex reclining seat feature with “Latch and Glide.” We tested the Latch and Glide entry for third row passengers and it does provide a less cumbersome third row access. However, even with easier entry the third row is tight for adults but perfect for kids and pets.
When you arrive at the upper SL and Platinum models, however, everything imaginable is standard and cabin opulence is enhanced. Included are leather interior, heated steering wheel, intelligent cruise, eight-inch color display with Nav, Bluetooth, fog lamps, rear sonar park sensors, roof rack, heated front and outboard second row seats and motion activated liftgate.
The Platinum adds special Midnight Edition 20-inch machined alloy wheels mounted on Bridgestone Dueler HP Sport tires, tow hitch, parking assist camera, power moonroof and an outstanding 13-speaker Bose stereo audio system. Your Nissan dealer is waiting to explain all models when you visit.
Our tester featured a $1,700 Nissan Mobile Entertainment Package with dual eight-inch DVD screens, two wireless headphones, a wireless remote, HDMI, USB and rear headphone jacks so everyone behind the driver can enjoy movies, games or music. The kids will love it on long trips, and so will the adults. A $235 carpet floor mat package, $365 illuminated door sills, $395 premium paint ad $175 splash guards brought the final retail to $47,840 with $900 delivery included.
On the safety side, all Pathfinders come with ABS disc brakes, stability and traction controls, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic and Nissan’s advanced safety airbag system. In addition to the aforementioned new standard safety items, all 2018 Pathfinders deliver a solid Five-Star Government Safety rating, overall.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 114.2-inches, 4,662 lb. curb weight, from 16 to 79.8 cu. ft. of cargo space with seats up/down and a 19.5 regular fuel gas tank.
I recommend first driving an entry level Pathfinder, and then move up as your wallet allows. It’s truly one of the better SUVs on the road at a most attractive price.
Likes: More standard safety features, comfort, quiet interior, multi-tasking.
Dislikes: Rear visibility, tight third row, leans a bit in turns.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications.