Tested Model: SV 4WD
MSRP: Base starts at $29,510
MPG: 20 City / 27 HWY
Engine as tested: 3.5L V6 4×4 CVT
I drove a 2015 Nissan Pathfinder SV 4WD for one week, to St. Simons Island from Atlanta and back. I spent many hours and drove many miles in the Pathfinder am sharing my thoughts about the SUV here. Upon delivery of the Pathfinder, I thought the SUV looks so different from previous Pathfinder models seen on the road. The Pathfinder is no longer a boxy SUV but one with soft exterior curves and a more streamlined body style. Once I took a seat in the SUV, nothing crossed my mind except how gorgeous it was. Based on looks, I felt like I was sitting in a $60k SUV.
Nissan has made a number of small but meaningful upgrades to the Pathfinder for 2015. It is a great 7 passenger SUV for families who need easy access for car seats and cargo. While it isn’t as sharp a handler as some other large crossovers, its powerful V6, smooth ride and relatively strong fuel economy make it a good choice for under $30,000 to start.
The Pathfinder has best-in-class total passenger volume, lots of cupholders and easy-to-clean fabric upholstery (leather is available at higher trim levels). It can tow a small boat and climbs large hills with ease, and is even available as a fuel-saving hybrid.
Interior Top Features for the Family
With 7 seats, enough third-row legroom for 6-foot adults, and an innovative second-row seat that can slide for easy access to the rear seating positions even when a child seat is installed, the Pathfinder earns high marks as a primary vehicle for large families. While the Pathfinder has the most total usable passenger volume of any vehicle in its class, its available cargo space does lag behind the class leaders at just 16 cubic feet behind the third row. Fold the second and third rows flat and you’ll find a generous 79.6 cubic feet.
Interestingly, Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming audio are not included as standard equipment here, and can’t be ordered at all on the base Pathfinder S, something that would keep me from purchasing the S. Only the SL and above have streaming audio, though the SV gains easy access to hands-free calling, a feature that I use in whatever vehicle I’m driving, all the time. You will find an easy-to-use navigation and infotainment system on the SV and Platinum or as optional equipment. The navigation got me to St. Simons Island without a hitch and when I needed to find a gas station or drug store on route, finding the closest of either was never an issue.
Nissan also offers a robust in-car DVD entertainment system that parents and kids will both love, since it features independent controls for three different zones: the front dash screen for front-seat passengers, and two individual screens for the second and third rows on the headrests can each run independent video or gaming content.
Safety Ratings and Features
The 2015 Pathfinder comes equipped with six standard airbags, including side-curtain airbags above the doors that cover all three rows and have sensors to deploy automatically in the event of a rollover. Nissan’s 7 passenger crossover also earned five of five total stars in government crash testing, making it a strong choice for parents who care about safety more than anything else.
While the Pathfinder does offer Nissan’s patented AroundView 360-degree camera system for parking and tight maneuvers, the active safety aids like adaptive cruise control and lane-change assist you’ll find on some competitors are missing altogether here, even at the higher trim levels. One nifty feature is the Easy Fill Tire Alert system, which beeps the horn while adding air to the tires once the factory-recommended pressure level is reached.
Powertrains, Efficiency and Performance
While some other 7 seat crossovers come with available four-cylinder power, even the base Pathfinder S comes standard with Nissan’s refined VQ-Series V6. Here making 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque, the 3.5-liter port-injected engine comes mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that, for 2015, gains Nissan’s new D-Logic stepped-shift system to still save fuel while better mimicking the driving feel of a traditional automatic transmission.
Though the step up in price is not insignificant, the available Pathfinder Hybrid is a good choice for heavy drivers. Using an innovative 2.5-liter supercharged four-cylinder combined with an electric motor that’s sandwiched between the CVT transmission using a specially designed clutch, the hybrid sees a big jump in efficiency while sacrificing just 10 horsepower compared with the gas V6.
All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional for around $1,700 at each of the Pathfinder’s trim levels and on the hybrid. Selecting AWD allows the big Nissan to be a good choice for larger families in climates that see a lot of rain and snow. We live in Atlanta but last winter I sure wished I had an AWD vehicle. With a 5,000-pound towing capacity and its strong V6, the Pathfinder will have no trouble with smaller boats or trailers.
The 4WD offers three modes of driver-selected options selected by a dial on the console. The options are Front-wheel drive for maximum economy; automatic operation, which monitors conditions and feeds torque to all four wheels when necessary; or four-wheel-drive lock, which is selected by turning the dial and then depressing an integral button.
During my trip to St. Simons Island and back, about 700 miles today, my average MPG was 24. The EPA rates the standard V6 Pathfinder’s fuel economy with FWD at a respectable, if not groundbreaking, 20 city and 27 highway mpg. Opting for AWD will see those numbers dip slightly to 19 city and 26 highway mpg. The Pathfinder Hybrid, however, fares significantly better and makes a strong case for its extra cost in the hands of those who do a ton of driving. EPA ratings come in as highway as 25 city and 28 highway mpg.
Pricing and Availability
The Pathfinder is competitively priced, though avoid the meagerly equipped base S trim unless cost of entry is your primary concern.
S (FWD): $29,510
S (AWD): $31,200
SV (FWD): $32,810
SV (AWD): $34,500
SL (FWD): $36,060
SL (AWD): $37,750
Platinum (FWD): $41,410
Platinum (AWD): $43,100
If you have questions about the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder, ask in the comments below. I will do my best to answer!
Learn more about the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder on the Nissan website and call or visit your local Nissan dealer to test drive a Nissan Pathfinder with your family today!