2013 Nissan Pathfinder Preview

Jeff Youngs | May 30, 2013
  • Completely redesigned for 2013
  • 7-passenger capacity
  • 5,000-pound tow rating
  • Front- or 4-wheel drive (FWD or 4WD)
  • 4 trim levels
  • 260-horsepower V-6 engine
  • EPA-estimated to achieve up to 26 mpg on the highway


As car buyers continue to face high gasoline prices, the shift toward more efficient vehicles continues. In an effort to match those changing preferences, the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder arrives fully redesigned with new styling, trim levels, features, and a new powertrain. The result delivers more space and greater fuel economy, yet sacrifices a bit of capability in the process.

Exterior Features

The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder offers a choice of four trim levels, starting with a base S model that features 18-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, rear window wiper, and keyless entry. The S is followed by the SV, which adds automatic headlights and roof rails to the mix, and then the Pathfinder SL with its fog lights, power liftgate, and heated power-adjustable outside mirrors that tilt down when the transmission is shifted into reverse.

A new Platinum trim level is also part of the 2013 lineup, and includes 20-inch alloy wheels, a tow hitch receiver, and Nissan's 360-degree exterior camera system that uses a screen on the dash to display a clear view of the area surrounding the Pathfinder.

Interior Features

Inside, the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder S is well-appointed with an informational LCD display, push-button start, tri-zone climate control, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and a 60/40 split-folding second-row seat that slides forward to provide greater access to a 50/50 split-folding third-row bench. For audiophiles, Nissan has included a 6-speaker sound system equipped with a 6-disc CD changer, auxiliary audio input jack, and steering-wheel-mounted controls. The SV trim level injects a number of extra amenities, such as a 7-inch center display screen, Bluetooth connectivity, power driver's seat with 8-way adjustment, satellite radio service, and a USB port.

Separating the SL from the lower trim levels are a universal garage door opener, remote start system, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power front-passenger seat with 4-way adjustment, heated front and rear seats, leather upholstery, and memory settings for the driver.

Buyers who opt for the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum enjoy those features plus a 120-volt power outlet that's handy for recharging electronics, upgraded 13-speaker sound system, heated and cooled front seats, heated power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with memory, Bluetooth streaming audio, and a navigation system offering an 8-inch touch screen and real-time traffic and weather information.

Optional Features

Two significant factory options are available for the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, the first of which is an SL Premium package comprised of the 13-speaker sound system, 120-volt power outlet, tow hitch receiver, front power tilt/slide moonroof, and a fixed moonroof over the rear seats.

Nissan also offers a Platinum Premium package, within which you'll find the moonroofs and an entertainment system with wireless headphones, rear audio and video inputs, and dual 7-inch screens on the backsides of the front headrests.

Under the Hood

Unlike the 2012 model it replaces, which offered a choice of a 4.0-liter V-6 or a 5.6-liter V-8 engine, the redesigned 2013 Pathfinder's engine lineup is limited to a 3.5-liter V-6 that delivers 260 horsepower and 240 lb.-ft. of torque. Output is directed to the front wheels by way of a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a hill-start assist feature. An optional 4WD system is available with all Pathfinder models and includes FWD, Auto, and 4WD Lock settings.

Also new for 2013 is the employment of unibody construction, a lightweight and less rugged alternative to the truck-like body-on-frame design of the previous Pathfinder. As a result, fuel efficiency has improved significantly, though towing capacity has dropped from a maximum of 7,000 pounds to 5,000.

Fuel Economy

EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder are:

  • Pathfinder RWD: 20/26/22 mpg (city/highway/combined)
  • Pathfinder 4WD: 19/25/21 mpg


The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder's standard safety features include 6 air bags, traction control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, brake assist, and electronic brake-force distribution. With the exception of the base S model, all 2013 Pathfinders are equipped with rear park-assist sensors and a rearview camera.

In government crash tests, the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder received an overall rating of 4 (out of 5) stars, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). As this preview is written, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not rated the crashworthiness of the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder.
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