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Nissan — October 31, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Atlanta Automotive Media Size Up 2013 Nissan Pathfinder


Members got a look at the completely redesigned 2013 Nissan Pathfinder at the October luncheon of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association (GAAMA). With unibody construction replacing a truck-like body-on-frame architecture, the 7-passenger crossover is a departure from its predecessor yet maintains much of the outgoing model’s capabilities. The luncheon at Ray’s on the River in Atlanta included a presentation by Rich Miller, Nissan’s regional product manager for the Pathfinder, and a chance for GAAMA members to experience the look and feel of the all-new model.

Miller began by explaining some background on how Nissan determines the parameters of a redesign. He said that, typically, Nissan develops a profile for a single customer, assesses that customer’s needs and uses those criteria to determine characteristics and features to be included in the new model. For the 2013 Pathfinder, however, Nissan chose to profile not a single customer but an entire family. Because the Pathfinder is mostly used as a family vehicle, each family members’ needs were taken into account.

The automaker determined three core capabilities that a typical family of users would require: the all-weather and towing capability of an SUV; ample space for people and cargo; and better-than-expected fuel economy. Of course, the new Pathfinder would also need to be stylish and comfortable. Once the design parameters were established, Nissan’s three design houses – one in Europe, one in Japan and one here in the U.S. – competed to create the new model’s design.

Miller noted that the winning design came from Europe. Designers in Japan and the U.S. then refined it. The result is a unibody crossover vehicle that’s longer and wider than its predecessor but that offers more interior space and better fuel economy. Efficiency gains are largely a result of improved aerodynamics and a more efficient powertrain.

Unibody vehicles often benefit from lower ride height than body-on-frame ones, which reduces aerodynamic drag. Nissan says the 2013 Pathfinder is 13% more slippery than its predecessor. A 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) help, too. The result is a 30% boost in fuel economy, with the two-wheel drive model delivering 26 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg in the city, according to EPA estimates. With optional four-wheel drive, the 2013 Pathfinder is rated at 25 mpg highway and 19 mpg city.

Still, the Pathfinder’s towing capability remains ample for most drivers. Rated at a maximum of 5000 lbs., the Pathfinder should face no issues hauling a recreational boat or camper. To handle the task, the Pathfinder’s CVT uses a chain instead of the steel belt typically employed in this type of transmission. Notably, both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models are rated identically. At least one competitor, the Honda Pilot, requires the pricier all-wheel drive option to boost towing capability.

The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder is available in four trim levels, from the $28,270 base Pathfinder S to the range-topping $40,770 Platinum. In the middle of the lineup are the SL and SV models, the latter of which Nissan expects to be the most popular. It offers leather, heated seats and a power tailgate. Every model in the lineup gets Nissan’s Latch and Glide second-row seat, which allows better access to the third row, even with a child safety seat in place in the second. All four trim lines are also available with a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

GAAMA thanks Nissan, Rich Miller and Steve Parrett, GAAMA board member and Nissan’s manager for corporate communications for sharing the new 2013 Nissan Pathfinder and hosting the October luncheon.

Photography courtesy of Dave May. See the full gallery.