INTERIOR

The interior of the Pathfinder was where I had most of my problems. I may have even used an inappropriate word or two in frustration.

My problem was I couldn't figure out how to use most of the systems. It took me the full week of my test drive to figure out how to use the Bluetooth system. I looked in the manual, and it told me to press buttons that weren't there. Silly me, I was trying to read the manual and hook up my phone while safely parked in my driveway. The Bluetooth system is voice activated and only works while the car is moving. Seriously? That's safe.

I also didn't know that the Pathfinder had XM Satellite Radio until I stumbled on it accidentally. There's no indication on the audio controls. I only found it by scrolling through FM1, FM2, AM and then XM popped up. Cool! (Insert frustrated growl here.) There's also an MP3 jack in the Pathfinder but no USB interface. At least the climate control was easy enough to work since we were blessed with a heat wave during my test drive. There are vents for all three rows and the automatic climate control has dual zones, so the husband and I didn't need to argue about the definition of "freezing."

I did enjoy the multitude of storage options in the front seat. There were cubbies and bins everywhere, generously sized to stash all my stuff. Cupholders are conveniently placed and have removable liners that wash out easily. The large center bin has slots for coins and CDs, as well as a plug for charging electronics and a deep well for tossing all my loose items or a medium-size purse. Even the door bins are useful with bonus bottleholders.

The plush cloth seats in the seven-seater are comfy enough, but they show every speck of lint, dust and Goldfish cracker crumb. I'm a big believer that leather is always worth the investment when kids are involved. Controls for the rear air conditioning sit on the back of the center console, as do the second row's cupholders, which are near the floor. Only kids out of boosters will be able to reach them, though. A small armrest folds out of the back of the seat, but it's just a short shelf. It doesn't boast any cupholders or hidden storage compartments.

The first two rows are roomy and comfy enough to help absorb some of the bouncy ride, but the third row is almost a joke. I had to sit sideways to fit in it, and even my kids didn't want to sit back there after the first time they tried it. Those two extra seats are for short trips and emergency carpools only. Access to the third row is not overly difficult. The second-row seats fold and tumble forward to create a passageway.

With the third row folded down, there's plenty of room in the flat cargo area. I was never pressed for space, even when I forgot to remove the baseball gear before I went grocery shopping. There are cubbies on the sides of the cargo space that will hold a couple of gallons of milk or a large jug of laundry detergent.

    See also:

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    Touch screen operation
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    Infants
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