By Rick Popely on July 15, 2014
Most significant changes: Updated continuously variable transmission; Pathfinder Hybrid on hold for 2015
Price change: TBA
On sale: October
Which you should buy, 2014 or 2015? 2014
When the Pathfinder was redesigned for 2013 it switched to a car-based unibody platform from a truck-based body-on-frame design, gaining fuel economy, interior space and ride comfort while losing some towing capacity and a V-8 engine option. For 2015, all models come with a 3.5-liter V-6 and CVT, and buyers have a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
The Pathfinder carries over four trim levels; S, SV, SL and Premium for 2015. The higher-level SL and Platinum trims add blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. Four-wheel-drive versions of any trim gain hill descent control, and the standard CVT gets D-Step Shift logic that enables it to behave more like a conventional step-gear automatic.
Three rows of seats are standard on this crossover SUV, and though headroom is generous for all rows, there's only enough legroom for occupants to sit comfortably in either the second or third row (the second row can slide fore-aft 5.5 inches). Cargo room trails that of competing three-row SUVs such as the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Chevrolet Traverse.
Nissan added the Pathfinder Hybrid for 2014 with a supercharged four-cylinder engine, electric motor and lithium ion battery pack, but Nissan won't say if there will be a 2015 model. The company says only that it has stopped taking orders for 2014 models and announcements concerning future model years "may be made at a later date" concerning its only hybrid. Nissan is investing heavily in electric vehicles and aims to be the global leader in zero-emissions vehicles.
The 2013 redesign put the Pathfinder more in step with the SUV market, which relies heavily on car-based crossovers, though it didn't move it to the front of the pack among three-row crossovers.
The changes for 2015 aren't game changing, so you should feel a bit more confident shopping for a 2014 during the next few months knowing that you won't be missing out.
Contributor Rick Popely has covered the auto industry for decades and hosts a weekly online radio show on TalkZone.com . Email Rick