SOME HITS, SOME MISSES
The Pathfinder has a long history in the U.S. It was the vehicle that launched Nissan into the American SUV market three decades ago. And the Pathfinder is still going strong. The latest generation, which was introduced in 2013, has been the most successful one so far, with over 300,000 sales.
For 2017, Nissan has given the Pathfinder a mild nose job. It gets Nissan’s signature “V-motion” grille and new headlamps with LED running lights. The lower chin spoiler is also new and makes the Pathfinder a bit more aerodynamic. At the rear, Nissan redesigned the taillights, as well as the rear bumper, which now looks heftier.
On the inside, the dash is a straightforward design, and although it is not soft touch, it has a pleasing appearance. A larger eight-inch touchscreen now anchors the center control panel. The interface, with knobs and dials for radio and air conditioning, is very user-friendly. The only negative note was the woodgrain trim, which looked cheap on my test car.
The Pathfinder comes with seating for seven. Front passengers have supportive bucket seats and an excellent view of the road. Those in the second row split bench sit a bit higher, so they have good visibility as well. The third row is not bad as these seats go, and access to the way-back is good. Maximum cargo capacity (79.8 cu-ft) is about average for its class.
Nissan sells the Pathfinder in four levels of trim, S, SV, SL and Platinum. Buyers can get into the base S model for under $31,000. It comes with features like a rearview camera, six-speaker audio and keyless entry and start. The SV model adds items such as a power driver’s seat, parking sensors and automatic headlights. Most buyers will likely buy the optional Tech package that provides blind-spot warning, navigation and the NissanConnect emergency communications system.
Moving up the price ladder, SL customers get even more features with leather upholstery, a 360-degree parking camera, hill-decent control and a power liftgate that will open when you wave your foot beneath the rear bumper. Bose audio and a panoramic moonroof are optional. The top-of-the-line Platinum model comes with all the bells and whistles, including the towing package, adaptive cruise control and collision warning and braking. This last system activates if you are about to rear-end the car in front of you.
Nissan propels the Pathfinder with its 3.5-liter V-6 engine. The engineers massaged it to get another 24 horsepower for 2017. It now generates a healthy 284 hp, and gets 22-23 mpg. This power plant has good pulling power, and can tow a 6000-lb trailer. Completing the drive train is a continuously variable automatic trans mission (CVT). This unit alleviates transmission droning by simulating shifts under heavy throttle. Front-Wheel drive is standard; AWD is a $1,460 option.
Out on the road, the Pathfinder ranks somewhere in the lower half of its class in handling and ride. The steering is quick, so maneuvering this SUV in parking lots is not difficult, but the steering provides little feed back to the driver on two-lane roads where you need it the most. The ride is fine on freeways, but feels jiggley on uneven pavement. You’ll enjoy the Pathfinder more if your driving takes you on well-maintained four-lane highways.
Pathfinder pricing ranges from $30,730 for the S model with front-wheel drive, to $44,400 for the Platinum with AWD. My test car, a Platinum AWD with the optional Family Entertainment package, had a suggested retail price of $46,160.
Available Safety Technology