Three rows for three teens in the Nissan Pathfinder PLT 4 X 4.
Although I think of my children as kids, they are in their teens and fully grown. A five passenger car tests the outer limits of our sociability, so for our recent 14 hour road trip from Connecticut to Kentucky, we retained family harmony in a three row Nissan Pathfinder.
The funny thing is, when we compared the seven seater Pathfinder to our Rav4, it looked no bigger. Yet it managed to keep three teens happy, especially my high maintenance 18 year old, who hogged the third row.
Although that third row had just a speaker and an air vent, it had enough space for a 6 foot tall sometimes sullen teen who ignored his younger siblings and ruled his own roost.
The Pathfinder has convertible space – you can fold that third seat down flat if you aren’t using it for passengers and transport bulky items or lots of luggage. In our configuration, we had to limit each person to one carry on bag, and any extras were crammed at our feet or in-between the kids in the second row (my oldest son stretched his legs out across the seat in his third row fiefdom). The second row seats fold down 60/40; the third row has a 50/50 split.
If you need to bring more bags, you’ll have to invest in a rooftop container.
Second row luxury
My 14 and 16 year olds tools over the middle row, but this was no neglected middle sibling. It was tricked out with climate control, heated seats, and a fabulous panoramic moonroof. My kids are maybe too accustomed to luxury, but even they remarked on the outstanding amenities.
For front row passengers, seats are heated and cooled. How great is that when you are driving from one climate to another?
Turn radius is not the sexiest feature, and I used to think “who cares?” Actually, when I first heard the term, I didn’t even know what it meant, which is how sharply you can make a U-turn. But I have a half circle driveway in front of my house and a beastly Suburban that I have never been able to get into my driveway easily. With the agile Pathfinder, I could do this with room to spare. Backing out was easier too.
Suburban vs Pathfinder
I find that Suburban a bitch to drive, but the Pathfinder was so much more comfortable and easy to drive. I was a bit put out by the not so great fuel economy – the car gets just 21 mpg. With gas prices currently so low, we didn’t feel pinched at the pump, but I am still in search of a car that delivers Suburban size space and comfort with great gas mileage. But the Pathfinder did have superior fuel economy compared to my massive SUV.
Big hit: a new tech item
The Pathfinder goes the rear view camera one better, with a rear sonar system. This system shows you all around, making parallel parking super super simple. There is simply no excuse to hit the curb, ever. My kids loved the rear sonar so much, they has me backing up over and over just to test it out.
I also LOVED blind spot warning – it’s a light instead of incessant beeping. That visual reminder is enough to keep you on the straight and narrow.
Finding our way
I give the navigation system a four out of five. It was easy to use, but not foolproof. I felt I needed to look at another map for back up. There was also voice recognition which I did not try. The console and touchscreen were simple to figure out.
Peace and quiet? Not so much
One reason we usually drive such a big car is we need to give our kids space to maintain peace. This usually means a quiet ride, but the Pathfinder was much noisier than our usual wheels. I figure if the kids, who aren’t sensitive to noise, mention it, it really is noticeable. And they all pulled their earbuds long enough to remark on the noise.
What we loved
- Easy to handle and maneuver
- Great power on the highway
- Blind spot warning light
- Rear sonar system
- Plenty of room for our whole family
- Everything is included: leather seats, panoramic moonroof, BOSE audio system, heated leather steering wheel
- Takes regular gas
- We got 21 mpg, city & highway driving
- Base price: $43,100. Carpeted floor mats and destination charge brought the total to $44,170