The funny thing about most crossovers and SUVs these days is that comfort is generally a very relative term. Sure, you might have every bell and whistle imaginable in the new Escalade, and searing performance in the new BMW X5 M.
And while those crossovers might be extreme examples, others in the price bracket also qualify. Vehicles like the Ford Explorer and Dodge Durango, for example, are prime competition for the massive, three-row Nissan Pathfinder.
What is one thing that none of the above machines can actually deliver in a luxurious way? Road comfort. Actual refinement, silent cruising and serene cabins. None of the above crossovers can touch the Pathfinder’s smoothness and tranquility over the road.
The only one we’ve sampled that can is the Toyota Highlander, and even it rides with far more chop and bounce-castle handing than the Nissan.
But is ultra-smooth driving enough? Read on for the full review with standard headings: Exterior, Interior, Performance, Pricing and Summary to find out! Plus please enjoy the 170 new photos taken around the Angel Oaks of Seabrook, South Carolina.
Spoiler alert, though. The Pathfinder is not a one-trick pony. It is a supremely capable all-arounder that pulls hard, locks into four-wheel-drive mode when needed, tows well, fits a full family comfortably, and achieves very impressive fuel economy all the while.
Redesigned for the 2014 model-year, the Pathfinder is unchanged for 2015. It is a smooth and fairly attractive design that leads from its V-bar grille and its double-width of chrome lashings even extending like wings under the headlamps.
It is a bright and confident grin, with angular beauty that is modern and fresh, but not intimidating. A deeply raked-back grille angle helps reinforce the newness of the Pathfinder versus its predecessors and competition alike. The lower bumper becomes much softer-looking, with a flowing organic style capped by chrome-ringed foglamps and a second lashing of chrome in the lower bumper. It looks cool.
The profile and tail of the Pathfinder are a bit of a disconnect with the macho nose, but are pleasant enough overall. They speak to the Pathfinder’s new mission: do it all — smoothly.
Giant rear doors and a smooth glasshouse is nicely tinted a dark shade, contrasted sharply with the silver roof bars and subtle wheels on this SV trim level.
In back, the theme is more like the profile in its smoothness versus the chunky grille. Subtle and understated taillamps are not flashy and not LED-lit. But the rounded the roof and its sculpted rear spoiler do a great job of making the Pathfinder look sleeker than its cabin feels inside.
If the Murano is the stylish and sexy Nissan crossover (priced above the Pathfinder), with its modern leathers and five seats at maximum — then the Pathfinder is the real family truckster of the bunch.
What do we mean by this? The new Pathfinder is HUGE inside. It is simply gigantic in all three rows. A super low and flat floor is a big asset for all three rows, and the overall cabin feels more Tahoe-sized and wide than Highlander or Explorer-like.
The Pathfinder scores major points for its giant second row and easy access to the still-big third row. This SV trim level lacks some of the Bluetooth wireless headsets of the Platinum trim, but still majors of huge space and actual comfort. The second row reclines very, very nicely and overall the accommodation — with or without leather — is more spacious than the Acura MDX.
Up front, comfort and easy tech is the name of the game. Simple controls are all simple to use, and the touch-point materials like the door-tops and leather-wrapped steering wheel are actually really upscale.
This SV came with a slightly too-taupe interior for our tastes, but the cloth is an incredible new fiber that is high-tech and nearly as soft as suede.