The 2015 Nissan Pathfinder has been reinvented as a car-based SUV, lighter and more fuel efficient than the truck-based model sold through the 2012 model year. It now competes with mainstream 7-passenger top-sellers, such as the Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse and Toyota Highlander and shares its architecture with the Infiniti QX60. A third-row seat is now standard. The elimination of the truck frame lowers the step-in height, easing passenger ingress and egress. The Pathfinder’s EZ Flex Seating System, featuring Nissan’s LATCH AND GLIDE technology, allows for child safety seats latched to second-row seats to stay strapped in when moving the seat forward to access the third row. Included with Platinum trim is an Around View Monitor that displays a 360-degree overhead view of the vehicle and its immediate surroundings. Towing capacity is now 5,000 pounds.
Standard safety gear on all Pathfinders includes dual front airbags, front-seat side airbags, roof-mounted overhead airbags for all three rows of seats, anti-lock brakes, stability control and traction control. New for 2015, Pathfinder SL and Platinum models add standard rear cross-traffic alert and blind spot monitoring systems.
The poor-selling hybrid model offered in 2014 has been quietly discontinued. See the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder models for sale near you
What We Like
Roomy interior; sliding second-row seats; good fuel economy; 360-degree Around View Monitor; Easy-Fill Tire Alert; standard hill-start assist feature
What We Don’t
Continuously variable transmission (CVT) causes engine drone under acceleration; less towing capacity than previous model; inconsistent steering feel; Bluetooth isn’t standard on base model
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
The Pathfinder is equipped with a 3.5-liter double overhead camshaft 24-valve V6. Output is 260 horsepower, and it develops 240 lb-ft of torque on regular unleaded gas. Front-wheel-drive models have an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, while all-wheel-drive models receive an EPA estimate of 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy. All 2015 Pathfinder models use a CVT automatic.
Standard Features & Options
The 2015 Pathfinder is available in S, SV, SL and Platinum trims.
The Pathfinder S comes standard with push-button starting, remote keyless entry, cloth seats, triple-zone automatic climate control with front-seat and rear-seat controls, cruise control, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, a 60/40 split folding second-row seat, a 50/50 split folding third-row seat, variable intermittent wipers, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, 18-inch alloy wheels, stability and traction control, anti-lock 4-wheel disc brakes, power windows, mirrors and door locks.
The SV gains a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a power driver’s seat, automatic headlamps and a rearview camera with a 7-in display screen, fog lamps, roof rails, heated side mirrors, sonar rear parking assist, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, SiriusXM, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a HomeLink garage door opener.
The Pathfinder SL features heated first- and second-row leather seats, driver’s-seat memory and power lumbar adjustment, a power front passenger seat, a power lift gate, remote engine start, a 120-volt power outlet and blind spot monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert systems.
The range-topping Platinum adds standard navigation with an 8-in screen, a dual panoramic moonroof, a heated power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a 13-speaker Bose premium audio system with DVD audio, the 360-degree Around View Monitor, ventilated front seats, an integrated trailer hitch and wiring harness and 20-in alloy wheels.
Also available on upper trims is a rear-seat dual-headrest DVD family entertainment system.
The Pathfinder is Nissan’s second-best-selling SUV and continues to gain popularity with growing families on the go. Expect to pay slightly more for all-wheel-drive models than those with just front-wheel drive.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recalls for the 2015 Pathfinder:
Defective front passenger seat sensing may deactivate or suppress the deployment of the front passenger airbag when the seat is occupied, increasing injury risk in a crash.
Some Pathfinders received an incorrect occupant classification control unit during a repair, which may fail to detect a seated adult front passenger and subsequently fail to deploy the front passenger airbag in a crash.
A front brake caliper may separate from the wheel, affecting braking and steering and increasing the risk of a crash.
Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car for free.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
From the NHTSA, the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder SUV received a 5-star rating overall, with a 4-star rating for frontal impacts, a 5-star rating for side impacts and a 4-star rating for rollover performance.
The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2015 Pathfinder Good ratings for small- and moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, head restraint and seat crash performance, as well as roof strength. It named the 2015 Pathfinder a Top Safety Pick.
Nissan covered the 2015 Pathfinder with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion perforation warranty.
Nissan certified pre-owned (CPO) cars can’t have more than 80,000 miles on the odometer and must be 6 years old or less. Every CPO Pathfinder undergoes a 150-point inspection and gets a Carfax report. The Nissan CPO warranty extends the original powertrain warranty to 7 years/100,000 miles and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. Additional warranty coverage covering all major systems is available at extra cost.
Other Cars to Consider
2015 Ford Explorer — This car-based 3-row crossover comes with a 240-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo, a 290-hp 3.5-liter V6 or a 365-hp 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6. All versions offer good headroom and cargo space, as well as the innovative, optional 4WD Terrain Management System, but second-row legroom is tight and thick front roof pillars impede outward visibility.
2015 Toyota Highlander — Toyota’s largest crossover got larger and roomier for 2014, with fresh styling, a sportier ride and room for up to eight passengers. For 2015, it continues with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive with a fuel-saving 187-hp 2.7-liter 4-cylinder or peppy 3.5-liter V6 that packs 270 hp. The highlander’s interior design features an innovative storage shelf under the dash and a Driver Easy Speak system that can broadcast parental messages to unruly children in the aft rows. An AWD-only gas-electric hybrid version offers 231 hp and a 27 mpg city/28 mpg hwy EPA rating.
The Pathfinder offers the ride comfort of a sedan, the roominess of a minivan and the versatility of an SUV. A comprehensive standard equipment list also makes the Pathfinder a good value. Note that its XTRONIC CVT operates differently than those in most SUVs, and it takes time to get used to the droning engine sound. The fuel economy benefits of a CVT are real, however, and the ability of the transmission to tailor ratios without delay for ever-changing driving conditions can’t be topped. We’d opt for a Pathfinder SV or a higher trim to get the power driver’s seat, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, SiriusXM satellite radio, rearview camera and leather steering wheel. Look for a Nissan CPO Pathfinder that’s been checked out, but always choose a vehicle that’s seen obvious care and maintenance and has had any applicable safety recalls performed.