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.

Performance Pros

Nissan Pathfinder
  • 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).

Performance Cons

  • 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.

Interior Pros

  • 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.

Interior Cons

Nissan Pathfinder
  • 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.