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Don’t call it a comeback…
by Richard Cazeau
As LL Cool J so poignantly rapped back in 1991; “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.”
What better way to describe the all-new 2013 Nissan Pathfinder as it transforms its look, not to mention its platform, moving from an SUV to a crossover in a bid to revive a sport utility that was once a dominant market force.
LIGHTER AND MORE FUEL EFFICIENT
Gone is the traditional truck-based body-on-frame, replaced with a unibody chassis that has helped cut 500-lbs of weight while increasing structural rigidity. Lighter, it’s now able to make do with a smaller engine, dropping the last gen's 4.0-liter V6 and 5.6-liter V8 engines, while also switching from a basic rear-drive layout to one that is front-drive – with AWD optional.
The same platform as the Infiniti JX crossover, the Pathfinder also shares the same 3.5L V6 engine, matched with Nissan’s Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) to deliver 260-horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. With the dramatic weight loss and introduction of that CVT, fuel numbers have improved 30-percent from last year’s model ranging from 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway (22-mpg combined) for the 2WD models to 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway (21 mpg combined) for 4WD versions.
LESS BACKCOUNTRY AND MORE BOULEVARD
For many diehard fans of the first and second generation Pathfinder, this softer crossover might not fit the bill, but it can still trek far and wide with the optional ALL-MODE 4x4-i system which delivers selectable 2WD, Auto or 4WD modes.
Testing the different AWD settings, the Pathfinder performed extremely well during our time on an off-road course complete with treacherous dips, serious vertical inclines and even a few large moving objects – they were bulls, and they weren’t in a hurry to move either.
The Hill Start feature, which stops the vehicle from rolling backwards on a steep incline, was much appreciated.