Normally, the staffers here at Consumer Guide Automotive switch cars twice a week. A few days in a car is enough for an editor to observe all of the car’s behaviors, use all of its features, and spend an adequate amount of time driving it to make a good objective report. Most cars stay with us for about two weeks, meaning that four editors have the chance to thoroughly drive a vehicle, compare opinions, and come up with a verdict, which becomes the review we post on our website.
However, our long-term test cars stay with us for as few as three months or as long as a year in most cases, so we can spend more time with them. Additionally, having a vehicle for a long period allows our editors to test the vehicle in several different situations, in varying weather conditions, and while performing myriad tasks.
One such long-term vehicle is a 2013 Nissan Pathfinder. It is a midsize SUV that, for the second time in the nameplate’s history, is built on a car-style unibody frame rather than a truck-based heavy-ladder frame. It has three rows of seats, the rear two of which fold down to create a flat load floor. That would be perfect for a test I had in mind: moving from one apartment to another.
Though I hired movers for my boxes and heavy, awkward items, I needed a vehicle with plenty of space to handle some fragile items and other things I felt more comfortable transporting myself. After checking with my colleagues, I signed up for our long-term Nissan Pathfinder for two weeks to aid in my packing-and-moving efforts. It was a good opportunity to test the Pathfinder’s cargo flexibility and maneuverability around the streets of Chicago proper. In this extended drive, I was interested to see if certain traits that I had noticed during my previous tests would either remain or fade into the background.
Before this two-week evaluation, these are the complaints I had with this crossover:
- Not very quiet, can hear lots of engine noise upon acceleration, copious wind noise on the highway, and a sloshing noise from under the hood
- Somewhat bumpy ride
- Tippy around fast turns
Now that my time in the Pathfinder has concluded, I’m happy to report that my initial qualms turned out to be non-issues, for the most part. While still present, the interior noise isn’t bothersome, and the ride didn’t seem as bumpy as I had remembered it from previous turns. Also, the tipping and swaying in rapid turns is something you have to expect from a vehicle this size. While this Nissan doesn’t feel as well-planted as a Chevrolet Traverse or GMC Acadia, it still corners with little drama.
I noticed some new traits, as well. If the 2nd-row seats are put in their most forward position and then folded down, it creates a gap in the load floor between the 2nd and 3rd rows. Also, the upholstery of the 2nd-row seats wraps around the top onto the back of the seat and forms a lip that packages and large items can catch on when pushed all the way forward. To solve both of these problems, I put down strips of thin wood paneling that I had left over from a project to make runners that allowed cargo to slide easily.
Surprising to me was the better than 15 mpg the Pathfinder achieved during this turn, especially considering that all the driving was low-speed, stop-and-go, city and suburban commuting.
The Pathfinder performed well overall and was perfectly content sitting parked during most of the weekend’s daylight hours with its hazard flashers on while loading and unloading. It has plenty of cargo space, with or without the rear seats folded, and is a pleasant daily commuter. It can get a bit pricey with options, so a base S or SV model would be plenty if you can live without some spendy technology and creature-comfort add-ons.