"Is it just my hearing, or is this SUV really quiet?" Well, Pop-Pop, a little of both, but probably one more than the other. It's pleasantly refreshing just how nice the Pathfinder still feels even after I've hopped in and out of some very refined, very expensive cars at the Motor Trend offices. After an extended weekend chauffeuring my grandparents around during their visit from Washington, D.C., where they drive a Lexus ES, their approval reinforced my feelings about the quality in my new long-termer.

The leather upholstery in our Platinum edition is by no means the best you'll find in the industry, but it's used well in the places you actually feel it, such as the cushy side and center armrests. The air-conditioned seats still seem like an exclusive enough feature that it's still a treat to have them in a mid-range family-hauler. Nissan's absolutely brilliant Around View Monitor System has been tremendously helpful in making sure the extra-flakey Arctic Blue paint hasn't been harmed in especially tight parking situations.

I'm by no means an audiophile, but I do have a discerning enough ear to know when a shallow, tinny stereo emphasizes hard S's and low bass lines distort and overpower the rest of the sound. Luckily the 13-speaker Bose system is warm and full enough that none of those issues are a concern whether streaming my iPhone through Bluetooth or scanning all the XM stations Nissan was nice enough to subscribe us to. I am bothered by the amount of time it takes an already connected device to register at startup. Other Nissans with the same unit don't seem to have this problem, so stay tuned for a report on that.

While I've yet to take the Pathfinder on any extraordinarily exhaustive adventures to test out the new unibodied platform, it has served happily as lunch shuttle around the office with all seven seats occupied. Initial impressions are that the 3.5-liter V-6 is certainly working harder to haul the extra mass, but power is still plenty adequate and pulls away satisfactorily from red lights. The third row is nowhere you want to be for any extended amount of time, but a short trip down the street is manageable.

While the cabin is a nice place to be, a CVT burdened with moving a 4200-pound. SUV could be a recipe for drivetrain disaster. With the pedal to the floor the inevitable sustained whine of holding a high "gear" is present and accounted for, but the other 95 percent of the time the transmission stays under 3000 RPM while cruising around town or down the highway, so engine noise is plenty quiet regardless of how your hearing aid is calibrated.


Our Car
Service life 5 mo/13,350 mi
Average fuel economy 20.0 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.97 lb/mi
Energy consumption 169 kW-hr/100mi
EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ 19/25/21 mpg
Unresolved problems None
Maintenance cost $38.96 (oil change, inspection)
Normal-wear cost $0