The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder has been ruthlessly designed with the needs of traveling families or groups uppermost in mind. it's comfortable, flexible, and spacious. Despite the visually long hood, the cabin is longer than those of several competitors--including the Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot--and it actually has three usable rows of seats.
The front seats are comfortable, offer good back support, and the driver has a wide adjustment range. There's little side bolstering, but they proved comfortable on long highway trips. The Pathfinder isn't a vehicle that really rewards a driver who tosses it around hilly roads, either, so the front seats are fine.
The second-row seats proved slightly disappointing. There's plenty of space, and the ability to slide 5.5 inches back and forth is a real bonus. But full-size adults may squirm and fidget trying to get comfortable. The back seat is short, flat, and somewhat van-like, as well as sitting quite low to the floor. That demands a leaning-back, legs-splayed seating position that doesn't bode well for comfort on long road trips. Headroom is more than adequate, so the less-than-perfect back seat is likely due to its ability to fold surprisingly far forward for third-row access.
The most impressive feature--for families, anyhow--will be that the second row can be slid and folded forward enough to permit third-row access while a "Latch and Glide" child seat remains installed in the middle row. (Yes, you have to take the child out first.)
The third row is also low to the floor, and like most such installations, really suited for kids, without enormous amounts of headroom. The third-row seat back does adjust for rake, though, and overall the Pathfinder does as good a job of any three-row in trading off the incompatible goals of space, comfort, and access for all eight positions.
For family miscellany, the Pathfinder comes equipped with various bins, map pockets on the backs of the front seats, and a pair of large trays in the center console. The three bottle holders in each rear door panel may be a new record, along with cupholders on each side of the third row, and four altogether up front: two in the console, plus one in each door.
Cargo space totals 79.8 cubic feet with both the second and third rows folded forward. But with all seats up, there's only 16 cubic feet--not that much, and barely enough for a family grocery run.
Travelers with find the Pathfinder's ride smooth and refined, even on long trips. Nissan worked hard on eliminating secondary vibrations and reducing noise, so minor road coarseness is far less intrusive than in some competitors--and the same goes for wind noise as well. Despite the CVT, the engine drone is tolerable under most circumstances (though still not quite as pleasant as Subaru's CVT, still our favorite among all makers).