First Nissan spoiled us late last year with its Infiniti JX35 luxury uni-body three-row crossover utility vehicle. You know the one that will get the name change to QX50 next year.
Then they dump in our laps "down-market" Tennessee kissin' cousin, the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder 4WD Platinum.
No name change in sight for the Pathfinder.
In the interests of saving your eye-sight and reducing our chances of developing carpal tunnel, "Drive...He Said" has decided to stick to how much better, worse or indifferent we felt after spending some with the premium, rather than luxury branded model:
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- The outside world sees more boxy truck lines on the Pathfinder vs. elegant swoopy wagon-lines on the JX35. Could it be the huge chromed-up cantilevered grille? Nah. Those less extroverted will appreciate a more subdued D-pillar Hoffmeister kink in the Pathfinder.
- On the inside the Pathfinder, at least in Platinum trim, has 90% - no, let's call it 95% - of the goodness of its Infiniti cousin. Leathers may not be quilted and satin finished. However they still felt darn good to our patooties. Nissan forwent - is that a word ? - soft-touch plastics and hides to cover the dash and lower interior door panels, yet the fit and design seemed no less expensive or appealing. Wear some Mr. Magoo optics and you'll notice less of the faux in the simulated wood grain appliques. Moms and Dads (not to exclude Grandparents) will appreciate the ease of getting little ones into the third row via the EZ Flex Latch & Glide set-up.
- The Pathfinder's 8" high-contrast LCD in-dash touch screen could have been lifted from any current Infiniti. Did they have to "water down" the voice command software? Not even a million changes to voice inflection or volume could get HDD navigation entry settings right worth a damn. Trying to salvage our sanity we didn't dare try Points of Interest.
- We were enthused about freeway jaunts with the always muscular / bordering on exuberant 3.5 VQ inline-six cylinder gas powerplant tamed only by the CVT. There is no "exotic" throttle re-mapping / band-ratio altering sport mode in the Pathfinder. Rapidly thumb-depress what is supposed to be an overdrive ratio lockout button on the shifter - at least that's what the button did on the last Nissan Quest maxi-van we abused - and...NOTHING. Didn't know what to make of a subtle drive-line whine with front-drive lock dialed up on the selectable e-diff four-wheel-drive system. So we mused as we passed a local Nissan dealership. More than a few gas stations were passed up with the 19 miles-per-gallon delivered by this hauler.
- Bearing 20" wheels and wearing the same exact Bridgestone Duelers as the JX35 we expected a similar ride / handling experience. Very nearly exactly the same it was. Meaning there's that high assist / nervous on-center steering and a propensity for rear lift in tight turns. Auspicious was a four-wheel disc brake set-up less interested in stopping urgently than in the normal Nissan way.
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Q: "After a week with the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder did we miss the incrementally more luxurious touches and of the Infiniti JX35?"
A: "Not really."
Q: " Did we miss the litanous driver assist technologies exclusive to the JX35?"
A: "Only until we realized the $17,000 we saved. The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum 4WD, topping out at $42,000, finagled Blind Spot Warning and Rear Camera / Park Warning, a twin moonroof, power liftgate, and dual video theater with Bose sound system. The Pathfinder is just as good a family companion. Really.
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Tags: 2013 Nissan Pathfinder SE AWD Platinum Review, Acura MDX competitor, all wheel drive, Buick Enclave competitor, Dodge Durango Competitor, Ford Explorer competitor, Full Size Crossover Utility Vehicle, gallery, Hyundai Santa Fe competitor, Nissan, Pathfinder, Pathfinder SE AWD Platinum, review, Third Row Seating