2017 Nissan Pathfinder Review

2017 Nissan Pathfinder Overview

The 2017 Nissan Pathfinder has been treated to a rather significant rejuvenation to close out the 2016 model year. This includes new exterior styling, interior updates and a more powerful engine. According to those in the know at Nissan USA, Pathfinder’s core demographic— young moms — dictated the new brawnier look for the Pathfinder. To appease them, the front end has been reworked, along with the hood, the rear hatch, the rear fenders and the wheels. Yes, it sounds minor. But it looks major when you see it.

The new front-end treatment benefits from a raised hood line to give it a more substantive appearance. This is enhanced by boomerang shaped daytime running lights. The grille treatment is also revised, with Nissan’s signature V-Motion trim piece playing a very prominent role. The front bumper was reworked and houses new foglights. You’ll also find turn signal repeaters in the rearview mirror housings.

Combined, these changes afford the Pathfinder a wider and taller appearance, moving it away from the suburban crossover look and more toward a rough and ready off-road capable image. At the rear, the liftgate has been revised with larger lighting elements, a bolder line for the rear fenders, and simpler styling for the rear hatch, which is now motion activated. Waving a foot under the rear bumper opens and closes it when you have the key on your person.

Three rows of seating accommodate up to seven passengers, although third row occupants are more comfortable if they are rather diminutive in nature. The second row is designed to tilt and slide forward with child safety seats in place for welcomed convenience. Heat and cooling are offered for the front seats. The second row and steering wheel can be heated as well. Nissan’s around view monitor system with motion detection is available, along with remote start. The 13-speaker Bose surround audio system dovetails nicely with the optional rear-seat entertainment system’s headrest mounted eight-inch monitors. Cargo capacity is 16 cubic feet with all seats deployed, 47.8 with the third row folded and 79.8 with second and third rows folded.

Power comes from a revised version of the Nissan VQ-series V6. Among the changes, the air intake and direct fuel injection system have been reworked for more efficiency. The cylinders get a mirrored bore coating to minimize friction and extract weight from the engine. The combustion chambers were also redesigned, as were the pistons. This permitted the compression ratio to be elevated to 11.0:1 from 10.3:1. The result is a 24-horsepower increase to 284. Torque is up 19 lb-ft to 259. Even with the power increase, fuel economy remains the same at 20-city/27-highway/22-combined for rear drive models. With all-wheel drive, you can expect a one-mpg drop across the board. Towing capacity is rated at 6,000 pounds.

On the road, this translates to a ready willingness to accelerate into fast-moving traffic. Throttle response is good and the continuously variable transmission has been programmed to exhibit “shift points” to eliminate the engine droning typical of CVT –equipped drivetrains. Making good use of the newfound power, the Pathfinder feels nicely solid on the road, agile in turns and it stays remarkable flat when cornering, considering its tall profile.

Nissan’s representatives made a point of having us take the Pathfinder off the pavement as well, choosing a trail with some fairly challenging obstacles. As expected, the Pathfinder solidly lived up to its name, finessing the ruts, dirt and deep pools of finely ground soil with grace. Much of this can be attributed to the new all-wheel drive system fitted to the aptly named crossover sport utility vehicle, which has some true off-road chops baked into its swagger. These include three driver-selectable modes, a differential lock for the rear end, hill descent control and hill start assist.

All in all, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder is significantly improved over its 2016 counterpart. With more aggressive styling, added power and an abundance of contemporary technical features, we think it represents solid family transportation. Pricing has yet to be announced as of this writing, but should begin close to the current $30,000 starting price.