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Fuel economy estimates published by the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency are just that — approximations. They provide a good fuel economy baseline for what car, truck, and SUV buyers can expect from a particular model. However, plenty of other factors are at play, including the types of roads traversed, fuel variations, engine break-in, and a car’s mechanical condition. Another key factor is how you drive the car, and my recent trip behind the wheel showcases the Nissan Pathfinder is surprisingly fuel efficient.

The Nissan Pathfinder is among the more efficient midsize, three-row SUVs

I recently completed a 700-mile road trip behind the wheel of the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum, which comes standard with all-wheel drive. The EPA ratings for the Pathfinder Platinum are 20 city mpg, 25 highway mpg, and 22 combined mpg, which makes it among the more efficient midsize, three-row SUVs with AWD. For comparison, the wildly popular 2023 Kia Telluride with AWD is rated for 21 mpg combined (19 city mpg/24 highway mpg), and the Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot with AWD will return 20 combined mpg ratings according to EPA estimates.

Again, these are only estimations, but over the course of hundreds of miles, the Pathfinder showed it has a parsimonious thirst for fuel, returning exactly 25 mpg throughout 705 miles. That’s made more impressive because my driving style is the antithesis of efficiency.

A lead foot and 700 miles with the Pathfinder Platinum

Related Only 1 Nissan Model Earned an IIHS 2023 Top Safety Pick+ Rating

Only 1 Nissan Model Earned an IIHS 2023 Top Safety Pick+ Rating

If one were to describe my driving style in a single word, “aggressive” would likely be a top contender. “Not fuel efficient at all” would also be accurate if the person didn’t understand the request to use a single-word descriptor.

I accelerate hard, kicking the throttle with the same fervor Al Pacino and Joe Pesci’s characters used to kick the hell out of Billy Batts in the famous “Goodfellas” scene. I also brake late more often than not. Additionally, the speedometer is never set to its most efficient speed on the highway — which is to say, I speed. Blame it on being from Atlanta, where a lack of aggressiveness is more likely to get you into trouble on the road than being cautious, or the fault may lie with simply being impatient. However, there’s a reason I’ve been testing cars for over five years and never included my real-world mpg returns — it’s simply unfair to suggest an average driver will also have such poor returns on miles-per-gallon — until now.

The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum returning 25 mpg is impressive. If it weren’t weighed down by the approximate 5,102 items needed for a beach trip with a three-year-old, it might have managed even better.

It should be noted that a solid majority of these miles were traversed on highways, which aids in getting more miles out of each gallon of gas. However, my trip in the Pathfinder included hours of city driving and being stuck in crawling Atlanta stop-and-go traffic. The Nissan midsize SUV still managing to achieve its highway EPA estimate is impressive, given this, paired with my inefficient driving style.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Pathfinder’s climate control system was pumping out a cool 60 degrees for almost the entirety of my 14 hours behind the wheel. The ventilated driver’s seat, which I believe is absolutely necessary for any road trip from Georgia to Florida in the summer, was cooling my butt on its highest setting whenever it hit the seat.

These factors may not significantly impact fuel returns, but coupled with my driving style, the Nissan Pathfinder with all-wheel drive still exceeds its EPA fuel economy estimates. That’s no small feat. Furthermore, I’m sure more patient, reasonable, and speed-limit-abiding drivers could manage even more impressive fuel economy figures.