Jeff Vaughn: Charting New Paths with Nissan's Pathfinder

(WXYZ) - When my wife told me we'd be going to Montreal for a wedding, I wasn't excited to make the 11 hour drive. But when Nissan provided a 2014 Pathfinder Platinum Edition for the trip, my mood changed.

As the Artic Blue SUV sat in my driveway, I immediately began to inventory the additional things I could take on our trip to Canada, like my son's oversized B-O-B stroller and ALL his toys needed to entertain a toddler on a multi-hour trip.

The SL package offered a roomy interior, two rows of nicely tailored leather seats and plenty of natural light with Nissan's beautiful Dual Panorama Moonroof. I see why the interior has won many awards. It is good looking and comfortable.

However, the Pathfinder lacked a smooth ride. I expected the suspension to be plush. Instead, it rode like a sports cars stiffer suspension. But the Pathfinder's quick acceleration more than made up for the bumpier ride.    

The Pathfinder proved to be the perfect vehicle for our 1,200 mile road-trip. I was immediately impressed with the clean lines and updated look. This version isn't boxy like the older Pathfinder models, but sleeker and more aerodynamic.  This SUV had great badging with beautiful exterior chrome appointments. The front headlights, fog lamps and grille offer an aggressive look that is clean and modern.        

The Pathfinder boasts Best in Class towing and seating. The Pathfinder has received the highest government side impact safety rating for its 2013 model.

Here's a look at my loves, likes and dislikes:

LOVE: The Around View Monitor. The Pathfinder is equipped with four cameras that create a 150 degree image around the vehicle. The camera helps visually confirm your position from above as you maneuver into or out of a parking space or garage. After using this feature one back-up camera will never be enough.      

LOVE: Acceleration. The Pathfinder, although it's one of the larger SUVs on the road, is spirited in its delivery of power when you punch the throttle. I was surprised how fast it gets up to highway speeds from a dead stop.

LOVE: The seat cooler. If you have hot buns you know what it's like when they hit leather seats. Your buns will love the Nissan version of the seat cooler. I found myself getting a chill from the stronger-than-average fan. Quite an improvement over any other chilled seats I have tried before.

LOVE: Extra storage space.  I didn't need the available seven passenger seating, so I dropped the last row flat and had ample room for everything I needed. Nissan claims without the last row there is 47 cubic feet of space. Drop all but the front row and Nissan reports the Pathfinder carries 78.9 cubic feet of space. That's some serious cargo room.

LIKE: Tri-Zone Entertainment. We traveled with my two-year old and having three TVs (two 7-inchers in the rear) kept him busy and happy. This would have been a LOVE, but I couldn't get the headphones to work to enjoy solo music. And I needed them to work after hours of Thomas the Train.

DISLIKE: Boom box in storage space. Although there is plenty of room offered in the rear cargo space, the only hidden compartment in the rear was taken up by a speaker. It's nice to stash valuables in those back hideaways, and the speaker took the only hidden space outside of the glove compartment and smaller console.        

DISLIKE: Lack of garment hooks. We had a few hanging items to take and I could only find ONE garment hook in the second row of seats. And it was so small and fragile I couldn't hang anything like a suit jacket from it for fear it would break. There were plenty of hooks in the rear cargo, but none above to hang a row of clothing. I've never seen a vehicle without at least one set of hooks on opposite sides to accommodate a clothing bar. I ended up draping our formal clothing over our pile of luggage in the back, arriving with wrinkled clothing.  

DISLIKE: Small displays, buttons. Navigation system. Although I liked the layout of the console and info center, I found the buttons small, especially those on the steering wheel. There was a lack of large digital displays for MPH and I found the traditional analog speedometer was obstructed by the steering wheel. The navigation system was adequate and the voice commands easy to follow, but the display was difficult to use. Maybe over time I would become familiar with the system, but I never felt comfortable using in during our five-day trip.

The model I reviewed starts at $34,900 and delivers 260 horsepower. The 2014 Pathfinder SL has an EPA rated 20 MPG city/26 highway.

For specs on the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder, click here .

For more on Nissan, click here .

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