Large crossovers break a complicated barrier. They’re people haulers, provide the all-weather confidence of AWD, can tow a decent amount and they don’t look like minivans. Nissan’s refreshed fourth generation Pathfinder continues that trend for 2017 with updated styling, engineering and technology.
Ride and Handling
Nissan suspension engineers stiffened the front and rear springs for improved roll and pitch/bounce motion control for 2017. We didn’t know that prior to driving it but immediately felt that the Pathfinder rode more comfortably and felt more composed than the 2013 model we drove when this generation hit the market. Steering feels light secure, with good feedback.
Highway cruising is smooth and minor road imperfections are absorbed well. Around town, body lean is evident but not out of the norm for a vehicle this size.
Massive 20″ wheels and tires fill the wheel wells and give the Pathfinder a muscular stance. We like the two-tone gun metal and machined finish. Tire pressure monitoring with Easy Fill Tire Alert is standard, and one of our favorite features about owning a modern Nissan.
Pathfinder’s brake pedal is firm and reassuring thanks to large vented discs at all four corners (over 12″ rotor diameter).
Powertrain and Fuel Economy
The Pathfinder’s revised 3.5L engine contains more than 56 percent new or new-to-Pathfinder parts and components – including the combustion chamber design, pistons, intake manifold and e-VTC (fully electronic on intake). The engine’s new direct injection system provides better performance and fewer emissions versus a non-direct-injection system. Horsepower increases to 284 hp (from the previous 260 hp) and torque is now rated at 259 lb-ft (up from 240 lb-ft).
It’s immediately evident when accelerating from a stop, merging or passing, that Nissan engineers turned this into the Maxima of crossovers. There’s definitely more power here than the Pathfinder truly needs, and we’re fine with that. The third generation CVT smoothly delivers power to the wheels.
While adding more horsepower and torque, Pathfinder fuel economy remains the same as before. Maximum towing capacity has increased by half a ton to 6,000 pounds.
Fuel economy after a week of local and highway driving (30%/70%) averages in at 22.1 mpg. The EPA rates the Pathfinder 4WD at 19/26/21 (city/highway/combined). That’s quite spectacular considering how many people and things the Pathfinder can move.
Road and wind noise are minimal; the driver can easily converse with the rear seat passengers. The engine sounds confident and hums nicely under acceleration, becoming nearly silent once cruising.
Very good LED low-beam headlights project a wide and far path of light. LED boomerang daytime running lights complete the signature face of Nissan.
Interior Fit and Finish
All the touch-points are wrapped in leather or soft materials. Gaps are tight and everything looks and feels of quality; this could easily pass as an Infiniti.
The seats are incredibly comfortable and supportive with a number of power adjustments, along with memory presets. The elbow rests are extensively padded and wide, a key area for comfort. The second row provides expansive legroom thanks to the EZ Flex sliding seat, which moves fore and aft 5.5 inches. It also features Latch and Glide, which tilts and slides the second row seat when there’s a car seat secured in it.
The third row fits a 6 foot adult well, but is probably more suited for shorter passengers on long drives.
The front seats are heated and cooled, the steering wheel is power adjustable and heated, and the second row is heated too.
Cargo room measures in at 16 cubic feet with the third row up and a massive 48 cubic feet with it down. A 12V outlet is back there as well.
Visibility is excellent all around thanks to small pillars and large windows. The standard backup camera and sensors in the rear make any parking situation a cinch.
Around-View Monitor is standard on SL and Platinum, and provides a birds-eye view of what’s around the Pathfinder.
Gauges and Controls
Clean, well-lit gauges and controls provide all information at a quick glance. The Advanced Drive-Assist Display provides endless information.
Knobs and buttons feel solid and provide good feedback, but could stand to use more symbols and less text.
Everything is well-organized and group together in a logical way.
NissanConnect features an 8-inch screen integrated into the dashboard. Navigation is standard on Platinum and works well, quickly responding to voice and physical inputs through the screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available, but Siri Eyes-Free mode helps with getting information, making calls and sending messages. Call quality is very good.
Three 12V outlets are up front, a household style 120V is in the second row, and another 12V is in the rear cargo area.
Music sounds powerful and rich thanks to a 13-speaker Bose sound system with 2 USB, 1 VTR and a 3.5-mm input, CD and the various HD radio and streaming inputs. The Bose subwoofer is mounted in the cargo area under the floor.
A “Family Entertainment” package is optional and includes dual headrest-mounted screens, DVD input, a remote and wireless headphones.
Forward emergency braking and Intelligent Cruise Control (radar based) are standard on Platinum trims. The radar cruise works well, and we’d like to see lane departure warning with lane-keeping assist added.
Parking sensors in the rear put an audible measure on proximity to other objects, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert are very much appreciated.
Crash Test Results
The Pathfinder did well in IIHS testing, earning a Top Safety Pick award, and earned all 5 stars in the NHTSA crash testing program.
|Summary Scorecard (1-10)
|Ride and Handling
|Powertrain and Fuel Economy
|Interior Fit and Finish
|Gauges and Controls