2015 Nissan Pathfinder SL

December 15, 2014 Updated: December 15, 2014

When my husband spotted the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder SL 4X2 that was my test vehicle last week, he immediately started bargaining with me. Since we are both car writers we have been known to trade test vehicles from time to time, such as when one of us needs a roomy SUV or sedan to pick up a car full of passengers.

However, this wasn’t the case. My husband had no excuse to “borrow” the Pathfinder. He just fell in love with the small but spacious SUV on first sight, and used everything he could think of to get the keys away from me.

He’s not the only one who loves the Pathfinder. With six new exterior colors and the addition of new technology like hill start assist, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic alert, combined with the roomy interior and best-in-class highway fuel economy, what’s not to love?

Since its total redesign a few years ago, the Pathfinder boasts versatility and full-size comfort for seven passengers in a smaller, easier to park, mid-sized SUV. My test vehicle was a front wheel drive version, but the Pathfinder also comes in all wheel format. Both versions are powered by a 260-hp 3.5-liter DOHC V6 engine with Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) and roll on 18-inch alloy wheels.

A D-Step Shift Logic control has been added to the standard Xtronic transmission for all models to simulate shifts for a more natural feeling of accelerating without using high rpms. We also liked the instrument panel with its Advanced Drive-Assist™ display located in the center of the instrument cluster directly in front of the driver.

The test model Pathfinder had a gun metallic exterior colour with almond interior. Chrome accent touches were found on the front grille, door handles, and body side moulding. Fog lights and roof rails were also featured on the stylish, aerodynamic Pathfinder SL.

The attractive interior has an innovative EZ Flex™ seating system that allows easy third row access with a child safety seat installed. The manufacturer had added such options as carpeted floor mats, a Technology package with Bose 13-speaker premium audio system, navigation, voice recognition, XM navigation, traffic, and weather, Bluetooth streaming audio, 8-inch color monitor, around view monitor, a tow hitch receiver with integrated finisher, and trailer harness.

Pathfinder SL models include leather-appointed heated first and second row seats, 4-way power front passenger’s seat, driver’s seat 2-way power lumbar support, remote engine start, power lift gate with position memory (one of my favorite new tools), Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), and more.

The MSRP for the Pathfinder SL was $36,060 but added options and destination charges brought the total price for the test vehicle to $39,160. Fuel economy was estimated at 20 mpg in town and a class-leading 27 mpg on the highway for an average of 23 mpg.

I did allow my husband to drive the car on a road trip (with me in the front passenger seat) and we both enjoyed the outstanding front headroom and legroom. The Pathfinder also handles well, responding quickly to the need to brake or accelerate. Plus there’s the added bonus of better than expected fuel economy for an SUV, always a plus for a long road trip. This would be a great vehicle for a family to take on weekend getaways.

Jo Ann Holt is a journalist and car columnist based in Dallas and a member of Texas Automobile Writers Association (TAWA).