2015 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum: Quite a Transformation

20 Jul 2015 | 1,440 views | No Comment
By Donald Hammonds Driving Nissan's 2015 Pathfinder  was a truly eye opening experience for me. It has been a while since I've driven a Pathfinder---at least four or five years---, and this new generation model is light years away from the old model. To start with, the appearance was phenomenal. It's one of the prettiest, most elegant crossovers on the market. With nicely rounded lines that did not look bulbous, and design hallmarks that make it look a heck of a lot more expensive than it is.   While the old model of years ago was more avant garde looking, this one resembles a very costly station wagon with sporting flavor than any other crossover I've seen. 2015 Nissan Pathfinder I loved the absolute quiet of the interior, the roomy space provided inside, including decent space in the third row. I will hasten to add that no crossover on the market, especially any that compete in the Pathfinder's segment of that market, do any better than the Pathfinder in terms of third row comfort. My two boys, nine and ten, who are both tall for their age, scampered into the third row, completely passing by the second row.  No reflection on the second row--it's  plenty comfortable--but like most pre teens, they wanted to be as far away from me as possible, and were just fine  back there. Several other things really pleased me about the Pathfinder. The controls were really straightforward, and nice, plush leathers covered the seats. I loved the textured metal knobs on everything--a costly looking touch, and the navigation system was easy to use without spending precious time trying to comprehend it on the first go-round. It handles beautifully, especially coming through corners and around curves.  I've read articles by other car reviewers that suggest otherwise, but I honestly can't figure out what they are talking about. If you're testing it on a racetrack driving it at breakneck speeds, maybe, but otherwise their criticisms come out of the blue to me. Steering is dead center and accurate--no need for corrections. Braking was especially strong without grabiness. Nissan's proclivity to design lots of sports car flavor and performance along with driving pleasure into its products really shows through on the Pathfinder. I don't know why Nissan put the graphic of the tilting truck on its visor  instructions because at no time at all did I ever feel the Pathfinder was in any peril of overturning; this is one of the most-car like crossovers on the market. I suspect it is a federal requirement to use those information guides. Frankly I thought of the Pathfinder as more of  a really lovely, fun to drive station wagon, not a crossover at all. And I sure can't say that about a lot of the crossovers I've driven. For marketing purposes and to help you make your way through the maze of products on the market, think of the Pathfinder as a midsize seven-passenger crossover SUV offered in four trim levels: S, SV, SL and Platinum.   No matter which model you choose,  you get a pretty nice list of standard features. Standard equipment on the base model S includes 18-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack, rear privacy glass, keyless entry and ignition, tri-zone automatic climate control, a manual height-adjustable driver seat (with manual lumbar adjustment), 60/40-split-folding second-row seats (with slide and recline), a reclining 50/50-split third-row seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control and a six-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer. Step up to the SV model and you will get automatic headlights, a front tow hook, rear parking sensors, remote start, an eight-way power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a 7-inch color multi-information display, a rearview camera and an upgraded audio system with a single-CD player, satellite radio and a USB/iPod interface. With the SL trim level, expect  foglights, heated mirrors, a power liftgate (with position memory), leather upholstery (first and second rows), heated front and second-row seats, driver memory settings, a four-way power passenger seat, a blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert. Opting for the SL Tech package adds a larger 8-inch touchscreen display, a 360-degree parking camera, a 120-volt household-style power outlet, towing preparation (also available separately on SL and SV), a navigation system with voice controls and a 13-speaker Bose Audio system with Bluetooth audio connectivity. The SL Premium package is essentially the SL Tech package plus a dual-pane panoramic sunroof. 2015 Nissan Pathfinder Our test car was a  top-of-the-line Platinum model. In addition to all of the standard features of the other versions, you will also get  20-inch alloy wheels, a power-adjustable heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats. Offered exclusively on the Platinum is a Family Entertainment package that adds a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with dual displays. There aren't any other engines offered on  the Pathfinder other than a 3.5-liter V6 that puts out 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. Nissan's version of   a CVT transmission is a pretty good one that is used with both  front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (which Nissan calls distribution in four-wheel drive). The AWD system includes hill-descent control and knob that lets you lock in a  50/50 front-to-rear ratio  power distribution allowing better traction in snow or other situations that require  more sticking power. Gas mileage estimates are 23 miles per gallon combined  (20 city/27 highway) with front-wheel drive and  22  combined (19 city/26 highway) with all-wheel drive. In Platinum trim, the Pathfinder is rated at 21 combined (19 city/26 highway).  If you plan to do any towing, the Pathfinder's  rating is up to 5,000 pounds. The pathfinder uses 4.5 gallons for every 100 mniles driven,  and the EPA estimates that you will spend about $1,000 more in gas costs over five years with Pathfinder than you will spend for other new vehicles.  Annual fuel costs are about$2,400 based on 15,000 miles driven annually with $3.50 a gallon gasoline. In terms of safety,  features  include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags that cover all three rows of seats. Rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are standard on all Pathfinders except the base S, which can't get these items even as an option. The SL and Platinum come with a blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert, while the Platinum comes with a more deluxe surround-view camera system that is optional on the SL. Problems? I wasn't crazy about the fold-down mechanisms for the second row. They  were stiff and balky, which  of course made getting into  and out of the third row seat awkward and time consuming. Let me tell you a story that I think is cautionary for Nissan and its luxury brand, Infiniti. I was leaving my gym, and tried to open the dooron what I thought was my Pathfinder.  After all it was an identical color and certainly looked like my Pathfinder. It wasn't.   It was a Infiniti QX60, painted the same color as my Pathfinder! Infiniti is Nissan's luxury division, and I am sure you know where I am going with this. Infinitis cost a lot more than Nissans, and yet you have a car, QX60,that, save for the S curve pillar  in the rear that is Infiniti's design trademark, looks identical to  the Pathfinder! Of course, I am sure that won't bother  Pathfinder owners. but if I was a QX60 owner, I would be pretty steamed.  Years ago   Infiniti models were basically Nissans with better interiors and almost identical interiors. It nearly killed the Infiniti brand.  I would caution Nissan not to return to that practice. The warranty on  the Pathfinder is three years or 36,00 miles, and five years/60,000 miles on the powertrain.

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