by: Mike Ginsca,
The Nissan Pathfinder is getting on a bit as it is one of the older of the three-row SUVs on the market with a V6 engine. But Nissan has continued to give it a facelift last year and packed it with some new tech. So is this a case of “old dog new tricks” or should the Pathfinder be given a full redesign?
Engine – Other three-row SUVs offer a smaller turbocharged engine in addition to the V6 like the Mazda CX-9 and Chevrolet Traverse. But the Nissan Pathfinder, like the Honda Pilot, are only available with a big V6. The 3.5L V6 under the hood of the Pathfinder isn’t the most powerful in this class but it still delivers a healthy amount at 284hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. Because it’s not turbocharged, the engine response is quick and it doesn’t take much to get the 2,100 kg Pathfinder going. Fuel economy isn’t that bad either for such a heavy SUV with a V6 engine. It is rated at 9.2L/100km on a highway and 12.4L/100km in a city while I managed around 12.8L/100km during my week long test drive. Still not bad for such a hefty vehicle. The Nissan Pathfinder also has an ace up its sleeve as it can tow 6,000 lbs, the highest in its class.
Transmission – Yes, it is a CVT as per Nissan norm which doesn’t make it as enjoyable to drive. But the big benefit of having a CVT is the good fuel economy figure. As soon as the Pathfinder gets up to speed, the transmission drops the engine’s rpms down to almost ilde to use as little fuel as possible.
Braking – The Nissan Pathfinder’s brakes do a good enough job of bringing the SUV to a stop but the brake pedal doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence when it feels as soft as it does. The good thing is though that emergency automatic braking now comes standard on the Pathfinder.
Handling – The Nissan Pathfinder’s steering was slightly improved in 2017 to make it more compliant and stable around corners but it’s still no sports SUV. The suspension is soft and provides a comfortable ride but it’s not a vehicle that you’d want to take quickly around twisty mountain roads.
Ride Comfort – The ride of the Nissan Pathfinder is sublime. The suspension absorbs nearly all the road imperfections with only really big potholes upsetting the ride. The front seats are plush and soft making them fantastic for long distance road trips. Second row seats offer a good amount of space but third row are a bit tight for adults.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The smooth V6 engine doesn’t translate any vibrations into the cabin when accelerating or cruising. It is also exceptionally quiet whether accelerating from a stop or just cruising. Road and wind noise are also well insulated form the cabin making for a relaxed and calm environment.
Interior Design – Although this current generation of the Pathfinder was introduced in 2013, the interior design feels like it’s much older than that. The controls for the radio, climate, and infotainment are well laid out but they don’t look modern and crisp like they do in something like the Mazda CX-9. It just feels like the interior design is meant to be more appealing to an older audience rather than a younger one.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – Depending on which trim you opt for, you can get a lot of safety and convenience features on the NIssan Pathfinder. As mentioned earlier, automatic emergency braking is a standard feature but things like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert can be optioned. Navigating through the infotainment is simple enough after you play around with it but the screen itself could be a bit more responsive to touches.
Exterior Design – In 2017, the Pathfinder saw a mid-cycle update to the exterior design that was made to more closely resemble other Nissan vehicles. It’s not a bad looking design but it’s also nothing that stands out too much in a parking lot. It definitely has the “big SUV” look but without actually being as big as a Chevrolet Tahoe for example.
In all the Nissan Pathfinder is a very comfortable SUV meant for a larger family but the design of the interior, and to some the exterior, don’t make it stand out from the competition.
Thank you to Nissan Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Nissan.ca
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.