Originally a traditional truck-based SUV, Nissan’s Pathfinder turned into a pavement-friendly midsize crossover SUV a few years back. Set up with space for seven passengers on three rows of seats, the Pathfinder yields respectable fuel economy for its category, while providing a relaxing, almost sedan-like ride.
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2017 Nissan Pathfinder Overview
What's New for 2017
Freshening of the exterior is accompanied by technical modifications. Revised front sheetmetal includes a V-Motion grille, revised hood, and fresh bumper. The bold new front end features Nissan's signature LED boomerang headlights and LED daytime running lights. A revised front chin spoiler aims to improve aerodynamics. Engine re-engineering has raised horsepower and torque ratings. A new direct-ignition system, also used on the larger Armada; promises better full-throttle performance and emissions. Towing capacity has increased by half a ton. Stiffer springs promise improved roll and pitch/bounce control. Inside, all Pathfinders have an 8-inch color touchscreen.
Choosing Your Nissan Pathfinder
All Pathfinders hold a 3.5-liter V6 engine that now produces 284 horsepower (up 24) and 259 pound-feet of torque (up 19). The V6 mates with a third-generation continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that incorporates D-Step shift logic, which simulates operation of a conventional gear-type transmission. Nissan has been a leader in the use of CVTs, even for relatively large vehicles.
Fuel economy is estimated at 20 mpg in city driving and 27 mpg on the highway (23 mpg combined), dipping to 19/26 mpg (city/highway) with all-wheel drive.
Like most crossover SUVs, the Pathfinder has standard front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive available on each trim level. The "intuitive" all-wheel drive system has three modes: 2WD, Auto, and 4WD Lock. Although the all-wheel drive setup is hardly suitable for heavy-duty off-road treks, a Pathfinder is more capable in off-pavement driving than many competitors. When properly equipped, towing capacity now reaches as high as 6,000 pounds.
Notable Pathfinder features include a tilt/glide second-row seat, which eases access to the third row even if a child safety seat is installed. A Drive-Assist display ahead of the driver has a 4-inch color screen. An 8-inch touchscreen now is standard, usable with optional navigation. An available 360-degree Around View Monitor can ease backing out of a driveway or parking-lot space.
As before, four trim levels are offered:
Pathfinder prices stretch from $30,890 to $44,460 (for the Platinum AWD). So, it’s refreshing that all-wheel drive is optional on all trim levels, not just on the most costly versions. You can decide whether to pay more for all-weather capability or for creature comforts; or, if your pocketbook permits, perhaps both. As always, all-wheel drive is most useful in snowbelt states.
2017 Nissan Pathfinder Review
Last redesigned for 2014, Nissan’s three-row, seven-passenger midsize crossover SUV, the Pathfinder, earned a modest freshening for the 2017 season, yielding a more masculine, trucklike demeanor. New active-safety features are available, the infotainment system is new, the suspension is stiffer, and a Midnight Edition is now available.
Pricing and Equipment
Starting at $31,230 (destination charge included), the Pathfinder comes in four trim levels: S, SV, SL, and Platinum. Each is available with front-drive or optional all-wheel drive. Nissan’s 3.5-liter V6 produces 284 horsepower (up 24) and 259 pound-feet of torque (an increase of 19). The continuously variable transmission incorporates “D-Step” logic, a series of stepped virtual gear ratios, to mimic operation of a conventional automatic.
The Pathfinder SV ($33,920) comes with:
- Rearview camera
- Cloth upholstery
- Power driver’s seat
- Tri-zone automatic climate control
- 8.0-inch touchscreen
- Satellite and HD radio
- SiriusXM Travel Link
- Bluetooth phone and audio
- Rear parking sensors
- Remote start
- 18-inch alloy wheels
A new Midnight Edition package is available, adding black exterior accents.
- Nicely-controlled handling traits, more like a sedan than an SUV. Vehicle size and weight are barely noticeable to the driver. Hydraulic/electric steering adds to driving comfort.
- Strong, smooth acceleration, with sufficient power to satisfy virtually any family-oriented driver.
- Quiet, comfortable, well-composed ride quality. Still, this year’s stiffer suspension does increase road feel, making bumps more noticeable. Never does it turn harsh, however.
- Modest off-roading capabilities, as well as towing capacity (up to 6,000 pounds).
- Occasional brief, but significant, delays while accelerating to pass or merge.
- Fuel economy isn’t bad for a vehicle of this size with V6 power; but it’s not exactly thrifty either, estimated at 20 miles per gallon city, 27 highway, 23 combined. All-wheel drive drops each figure by 1 mpg.
- Complex but cleverly-folding second-row seatbacks help ease access to the third row. Seats also slide fore/aft to modify leg room in second and third rows.
- Abundant space for up to seven occupants in a quiet cabin. Despite modest side bolstering, front seats are comfortable for longer journeys, with broad adjustment range and good back support.
- New NissanConnect infotainment with 8.0-inch touchscreen offers plenty of connectivity features, as well as ease of use.
- Materials are on the dull side, with limited color choices.
- Second-row seats aren’t as comfortable as expected, despite ample headroom.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
Because of the sensible folding second-row seatbacks, child seats may be locked into position even when the seat is partly collapsed. Ability to slide the seat forward and back by 5.5 inches is another welcome benefit. Though it doesn’t get much attention, Nissan’s Easy Fill Tire Alert makes it easy to inflate tires at the service station.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
Second-row seats are not only short and flat, but uncomfortably low – especially for adults, who might have trouble finding a comfortable position. Also, new safety features are available, such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, but standard only in Platinum trim.
The Bottom Line
In the current Pathfinder, a long, car-like hood and steep windshield meld with new, more blocky bumpers and front-end components. As a result, this crossover appears smaller than its dimensions suggest, and drives much like a passenger car.
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