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2013 Nissan Pathfinder SL 4X2 Comfort & Function in a Crossover>

Totally re-engineered for 2013, the Nissan Pathfinder has a sleek new look and body metrics. In addition to being five inches longer and five inches wider than the previous incarnation of the Pathfinder, the 2013 is measurably more aerodynamic. For those of you who understand techie speak, how about a 13% improved coefficient of drag!

Less wind resistance means better fuel economy. The 2013 Pathfinder SL 4X2, equipped with an advanced 3.5-liter DOHC V6 engine coupled to Nissan’s next generation Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) delivers best-in-class fuel economy. So whether you’re taking the ladies out to lunch, or taking a road trip with your clan, you’ll appreciate EPA estimates of 26 MPG highway and 22 MPG in combined city/highway driving. Those are welcome numbers with gas prices on the rise, especially when you consider that the Pathfinder still produces a responsive 260 horsepower and 240 lb. feet of torque — capable of towing your boat or travel trailer — up to 5,000 pounds.
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Improved Ride and Handling
The Pathfinder’s switch to a new, lighter unibody construction achieves a stiffer structural rigidity, reduces overall cabin noise, and results in more responsive handling. The aforementioned aerodynamics also contribute to the Pathfinder’s car-like ride, but having 1.5 inches of less clearance somewhat diminishes its off-road prowess on rough and uneven terrain. Unlike earlier Pathfinder nameplates, the 2013 two-wheel drive models are front-wheel rather than rear-wheel powered, smoothly pulling this family hauler along.

Your Comfort Zone
We loved the comfortable and versatile interior of the new Pathfinder. It seats seven passengers with ease, and affords best-in-class front headroom, front legroom and overall passenger space. What’s not to like about leather, heated driver’s and passenger seats, plus a third row of seating that actually reclines. And that third row will accommodate grown-ups, too. The second row seating offers the versatility of a 60/40 split fold-down option that’s ideal for carrying boards — surf, snow or even the lumber variety. In fact, with both the second and third rows folded flat, the Pathfinder can transport 79 square feet of cargo. That’s a lot of designer shoeboxes!

The SL trim level also includes a long-running list of standard tech and luxury features. The remote engine start is cool, and the Tri-Zone Automatic Temperature Control system allows you to fine tune interior climate for all passengers. We were rocking out with the 6-speaker Audio System with USB and iPod integration, and the Bluetooth Hands-free Phone system enables the driver to chat without breaking the law. The Navigation system featured a nice big 7-inch color monitor, and the power lift gate added a nice touch of convenience. Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter are nice, quality touches.

Attention to Safety
We felt safe breezing down the highway and maneuvering through city traffic in the 2013 Pathfinder SL. In addition to its ideal size and stable stance, Nissan has built-in all the key safety features you would want to protect you and your precious cargo.
Our tester was equipped with a Traction Control System, 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes with ABS, tire pressure monitoring system, driver and front passenger front and side-impact and curtain airbags, Child Safety rear door locks, seat belts with Lower Anchors & Tethers for Children (LATCH) system, the Nissan Vehicle Immobilizer System…and more.

In our view, the 2013 Pathfinder is a great family / equipment hauler and a nice alternative to driving a minivan.

Test driven and photographed by Christina Selter