• Four trim choices, with front or all-wheel drive offered on each.
  • Starting price of $28,270; $1,000 less than 2012 model.
  • Standard 260-horsepower V6; V8 engine no longer available.

Nissan recently announced pricing for its newly redesigned fourth-generation Pathfinder. The 7-passenger SUV, available in four trim levels and with the choice of front or all-wheel drive, has a base price that's $1,020 less than the outgoing 2012 model. The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) ranges from $28,270 for a base 2013 Nissan Pathfinder S to over $40,000 for a fully loaded Platinum Premium model. Unlike previous generations, which were based on rigid truck platforms, the latest Pathfinder is built with car-like unibody construction for improved ride and fuel economy. Also gone is the V8 engine option; the new Pathfinder is only offered with a V6.

Four trim levels are available, and opting for all-wheel drive adds $1,600 to the bottom line, regardless of trim. Two-wheel drive, mid-range SV and SL models are priced at $31,530 and $34,470, respectively. Stacked with luxury amenities, the top-trim Pathfinder Platinum is priced at $39,170, or $40,770 with all-wheel drive.

The new Pathfinder is priced below some competing models. Like the Pathfinder, the 8-passenger Honda Pilot has a standard third row of seats--but starts a bit higher at $29,420. Pricing for the Toyota 4Runner--one of the Pathfinder's longest-running rivals--starts at $31,340. And third-row seating costs extra on the 4Runner.

While the outgoing Pathfinder was available with a choice of V6 or V8 engines, the new model is powered exclusively by a 260-hp 3.5-liter V6. The engine is a bit smaller than the V6 in its predecessor, but it's nearly as powerful. And paired with a new continuously variable transmission (CVT), the new Pathfinder is considerably more fuel-efficient. It's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-rated at 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway for the front-wheel drive model or 19/25 mpg for the 4x4. The most economical version of the old Pathfinder was rated at 15/22.

That economy gain comes courtesy of the new powertrain and a totally new design. The outgoing Pathfinder SUV was built with truck-like body-on-frame construction. The 2013 model is now officially a "crossover," and utilizes a unibody structure, similar to the construction of a typical passenger car. Nissan says the unibody architecture provides weight savings and more interior space. Towing capacity suffers slightly, but at 5,000 lbs for all models, it matches the 4Runner and tops the Pilot.

The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder's change from traditional SUV to crossover is a big one, and some drivers may prefer the older Pathfinder's truck-like construction and better off-road prowess. But few will likely miss its thirst for fuel or higher price. And the 2013 Pathfinder offers more space for people and gear, plus an innovative second-row seat that allows easier access to the third row. Most SUVs rarely tackle a trail, but extra space and improved efficiency pay off on nearly every drive.

What it means to you: With a new engine and transmission, the completely redesigned 2013 Pathfinder offers better fuel economy and more versatility than its predecessor. Its starting price under $30,000 makes it very competitive among similar-sized SUVs and crossovers.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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