Two things surprised me about the 2016 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum 4WD. First, I wasn’t expecting the Pathfinder to look like a van. I’m not sure when the pathfinder transformed from a rugged SUV to a streamlined, three-row crossover, but that leads to surprise number two: despite looking like your everyday “mom” van, the Pathfinder is fun to drive. And what it may lack as a cool, sporty vehicle it makes up for in useful family features.
Seats Seven, But Does it Have Enough Cargo Space?
I test drove the Pathfinder for one week to bring home our daughter from college and to run errands around town. The plan was to rent a roomy vehicle to move our daughter and her roommate and haul all their gear back home. However, when we first saw the shiny red Pathfinder we were concerned it didn’t have enough cargo space for the task of lugging boxes of clothes, small appliances and even a bike. To be on the safe side, we brought along a rooftop cargo carrier.
The Road Trip: L.A. to San Francisco (and back!)
The first thing we noticed is the Pathfinder (equipped with a powerful V-6 engine) has a nice, solid feel and drives so smoothly that cruising at 65 miles per hour feels like 45 mph. So imagine our surprise when we found ourselves zipping along at 80 mph (oops, time to set the cruise control)! The five-hour drive from LA to SF (through miles and miles of agricultural fields) can be boring but the Nissan’s Sirius XM Satellite Radio provided a range of music that kept us entertained. The entertainment system features a Bose® audio system and 13 speakers.
The drive itself can be challenging with big rigs, SUVs, vans and sports cars constantly changing lanes and tailgating slower vehicles on the busy four-lane highway. The Pathfinder’s blind spot warning (BSW) feature came in handy, alerting us with a warning light when a vehicle emerged in our blind spot, and a warning tone if it wasn’t safe to change lanes.
Car with a View
Many, if not most, vehicles today have a moonroof. The Pathfinder’s moonroof over the front two seats is small but the dual panorama moonroof stretches over all three rows of seats so everyone gets a view. Nice touch!
More Safety Features
Useful in the city or on road trips is the Pathfinder’s touch screen display with a back-up camera and an Around View® Monitor (AVM). The monitor uses four cameras to create a composite image of the Pathfinder from above so you see the vehicle in relation to you surroundings (ideal for backing up in mall parking structures!). The easy-to-use navigation system is great for directions, to avoid traffic snarls and for weather updates from NavWeather. So far, so good, we’re liking this road warrior.
Loading up the Pathfinder
Well, it’s a good thing we brought the portable cargo carrier for the top of the car. After folding down the third row, my husband was able to stuff my daughter’s bike into the back of the Nissan and cram in boxes filled with kitchen items (non-perishable food, dishes, utensils, pots and pans), small appliances, clothes and miscellaneous items. But that still left some clothes, bedding and towels for the rooftop carrier. Still, we got it all in! As my husband was strapping down the cargo carrier, he said it would have been helpful if the Pathfinder had a crossbar (available for an extra $355) in addition to the rooftop rails to better secure items on top of the car.
The girls sat in the second row, which can slide back and forth when the third seat is not in use. They settled in comfortably with pillows and snacks to watch movies on the dual DVD screens. Wireless headsets included.
Back home, I continued driving the Nissan, which handles more like a sedan than a SUV. Maneuvering around residential streets and parking lots was a cinch. Folding down the third seat I could easily stow my mom’s wheelchair when bringing her to doctor appointments.
Who this Car is For
Although the Nissan Pathfinder has three rows for seating seven people, it’s probably best for a family of four or families with younger kids. The third row is too small for older teens and adults, unless it’s just for a short distance.
It’s been years since our kids were little, but I would have liked Pathfinder’s LATCH system that enables you to secure LATCH-compatible child restraints in the second row without having to use seat belts or a locking clip. Overall, the Nissan Pathfinder Platinum offers a smooth ride and has many family amenities to please kids and parents.
What I Loved
- Nice solid feel yet easy to maneuver
- Dual built-in DVD screens
- Dual power panorama moonroof
- Entertainment system complete with SiriusXM (not available in AK, HI and some markets)
What You Need to Know
- Base price, $43,250
- Fuel economy, 19 miles per gallon in the city, 26 on the highway; 21 combined
- Optional family entertainment package includes dual seven-inch Head Restraint DVD, two wireless headphones, one wireless remote control, one VTR jack, rear headphone jacks with volume control: $1,700.
- Carpeted floor mats, $210.
- Just one USB port
- Takes regular gas