The market for truck-based SUVs that aren’t Suburbans, Jeeps, or Land Rovers has left the building, and although controversial, Nissan’s move from trucky, body-on-frame, longitudinal engined sport/utility to the Altima-based, unibody, transverse-engined alterna-minivan, was necessary.
Its single powertrain option combines Nissan’s venerable 3.5-liter, VQ V-6 with perhaps the best continuously variable transmission extant. Towing capacity is 5000 pounds with front or all-wheel drive, and AWD can be locked in. More important, the second row has fore-aft and seatback-angle adjustment.
The base rental lot Pathfinder S stickers at $29,095 and weighs about 4100 pounds, which is impressively low for such a capacious SUV. The mid-level SV (cloth seats) and SL (leather) are in the $32,355-$35,295 sweet spot. Our AWD Platinum tester had everything new age wagoneers expect, including a cushy ride.
Technical director Frank Markus liked the VQ engine tuning and Pathfinder’s value but the Nissan has no CVT sport mode to provide step-style upshifts and downshifts. We noticed, though the average buyer probably won’t.
Other Sport/Utility Contender WOT stories:
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Check back to MotorTrend.com on October 15 at 3 a.m. PDT/6 a.m. EDT to discover what will become the 2013 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year!
Read more: 2013 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year Contender: Nissan Pathfinder - WOT on Motor Trend