$13,013 - $18,565

2013 Nissan Pathfinder Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder was new.


Performance: 7.0

The redesigned 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, which shed its truck platform for a more refined unibody platform for 2013, is more comfortable and polished than before, say reviewers. They say that while it no longer is as capable off-road, it is now more composed and competent on paved roads. They’re pleased with the power from its V6 and say its continuously variable transmission makes the most of the engine's power.

  • "The driving experience can be summed up as mature. Suspension tuning is firm enough to keep cornering attitudes level, without compromising the comfort quotient, and there's enough power to minimize drama in passing on two-lane highways." -- Road and Track
  • "With well-sorted steering, braking and handling, three-row CUV shoppers would be smart to shop the Pathfinder, if only because it's simply easier to drive than the others without feeling numb or totally uninspired." -- Autoblog
  • "Although the Pathfinder's days of crossing the Rubicon Trail are long gone, it should handle just about anything the average family - and winter storm - can throw at it." -- Left Lane News

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Pathfinder is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 260 horsepower. Power is routed to the wheels through a continuously variable transmission. A front-wheel drive Pathfinder achieves an EPA-estimated 20/26 mpg city/highway, which is fairly good for the class. All-wheel drive models average just slightly less.

Reviewers are generally impressed with the Pathfinder’s performance abilities. They say the CVT makes the most of the available power and does a good job of transmitting power for acceleration and passing maneuvers. Jalopnik sums it up by saying that the Pathfinder’s new powertrain "isn't blazingly fast, but adequately does its job."

  • At full thrust, the transmission makes the best of all 260 hp, pegging the tachometer needle satisfyingly into the red zone. With a curb weight as low as 4150 pounds, the Pathfinder is quick once it's up to speed, though sudden requests for power at highway speeds are met with an unacceptably long pause before speed starts gathering." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "… on the road, this SUV does not lack for power. Both the engine and transmission do their jobs without drama, leaving all seven passengers to enjoy not being squished together in the quiet, comfortable cabin." -- The Los Angeles Times
  • "Displacement drops from a 4.0-liter V-6 to a 3.5. That results in a loss of six horses. But, more noticeably, there are 48 fewer lb-ft of torque. Still, acceleration is plenty strong, and the biggest change in driving feel is a bit of torque steer because this crossover defaults to its fuel-sipping FWD arrangement unless there's wheel slip." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "Nissan is not pushing any efficiency technologies, still relying on variable valve timing to get 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque out of the engine. These numbers sound mediocre, but the Pathfinder's CVT makes good use of the power. During road testing, the Pathfinder picked up speed rapidly, inspiring confidence for merging or passing." -- CNET
  • "Acceleration is solid, perhaps somewhere around the mid 7 seconds to 60mph (although Nissan won't say). Power delivery is buttery smooth and you don't feel like you are lacking in ponies. It's a good balance that isn't blazingly fast, but adequately does its job." -- Jalopnik

Handling and Braking

While the previous Pathfinder was based on a truck platform and offered rear- or four-wheel drive, the new model rides on a car-based platform, and instead comes standard with front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive is optional. One fairly unique feature on AWD models is a selection knob that allows the driver to select whether all the wheels are driving or just the front ones. This feature is unique to the class, and typically only found on off-road SUVs or pickup trucks with true 4x4 systems. As a result of its platform change, reviewers say that the Pathfinder has traded off-road capability for a more comfortable pavement ride. They also note that it handles a bit better than its predecessor, with less body roll through turns. Critics say it feels more stable on the road, and does well at quelling the impact of road imperfections. One critic says that the steering feels too heavy, and another criticizes the brake pedal for feeling spongy.

  • The speed-sensitive power steering is so dead and heavy that the driver feels like a pallbearer at Luciano Pavarotti's funeral. On-road ride motions, however, are controlled and always comfortable." -- Car and Driver
  • "The only diminished dimension is height, down 3.0 inches to 69.6, in part due to reduced ground clearance, a very modest 6.5 inches, about the same as many sedans, and not at all conducive to rugged off-roading." -- Road and Track
  • Although the brake pedal feels a bit spongy, the brakes themselves are strong enough, with shorter than average stopping ability." -- Edmunds
  • Nissan let us loose on a small off-road course to demonstrate the system's capability, and it coped well with modest tests like steep grades any hilly pastures. We don't expect any Pathfinder owners to take them mudding through the woods or down rocky trails, and neither does Nissan. It's a fine system, but if off-road prowess is your thing, the Ford Explorer will do you one better with its Terrain Management system." -- Autoblog
  • "A longer wheelbase, wider stance and lower overall height give the SUV a more stable feel, while a retuned suspension and advanced traction and stability systems help keep body roll in check through corners. The revised Pathfinder suspension setup does an equally commendable job of soaking up road imperfections when you're in cruise mode." -- Kelley Blue Book

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