Delivers What Today’s Buyers Need in a Family Crossover Better Than Ever
The original Nissan Pathfinder built a rugged reputation that survives even today. But, like many SUVs, it got caught up in the crossover craze; eventually trading its frame and truck-like ride for the comfort and flexibility of a unibody chassis. Well, there’s a new Pathfinder, and while it doesn’t quite return to its roots, it certainly makes a turn in that rut loving direction.
So, let’s be clear right from the get-go, when Nissan claims that this 2022 Nissan Pathfinder returns to its rugged roots, we’re mostly talking about appearance; as it has always been quite capable, and now features even more of the flexibility that today’s family SUV buyers are looking for.
Gone, is last gen’s soft jelly bean shape; replaced with a bold truck-like look that includes a taller face, exaggerated fenders, and thick slanted C-pillars. Yet, it still incorporates recent Nissan styling cues such as the floating roof and V-motion grille.
If they had done nothing more than that, the new Pathfinder would still be a hit with us; but the interior is also more open than before, with a dash design very similar to what we’ve seen in the Nissan Rogue, plus lots of nicely integrated small item storage spaces.
On the console, is a fairly traditional looking shift handle, but it operates more as a slider. What it controls however is great news, as a new 9-speed automatic transmission replaces the CVT.
Our SL is short of the top Platinum trim, but still comes with leather seats, 9-inch touchscreen, brushed metallic accents, and power lift-gate.
Premium package adds a panoramic moonroof, 13-speaker Bose audio, and wireless phone charging; along with tow prep, that allows for pulling up to 6,000-lbs. of trailer.
It also replaces the 2nd row bench with captain’s chairs, dropping capacity from 8 to 7; but adds a nice easily removable center console. Access to the standard 3rd row is quite good, with close to adult-friendly space; albeit not necessarily with long-distance comfort.
Standard instrumentation features real analog gauges with a 7-inch Advanced Drive-Assist Display; a 12-inch digital dashboard comes with top Platinum trim. As for cargo space; a decent 16.6 cubic-ft. in back expands to 45.0 with 3rd row folded, and maxes out at 80.5. The space is also wide enough to haul 4-foot wide building materials flat on the load floor.
Nissan sticks with the tried and true when it comes to the engine; their familiar 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V6 outputting the same 284-horsepower and 259 lb-ft. of torque as before.
But, its new 9-speed automatic had us looking forward to our time on the track as we rolled into Mason Dixon Dragway. Off the line, it leaps forward with a lot of traction and power, hitting 60 in 7.7-seconds; 2/10ths quicker than with last gen’s CVT.
The 3.5-liter sounds good, and delivers consistent power throughout the ¼-mile, with extremely smooth shifts all the way down the track; tripping the lights in 15.9-seconds at 89 miles-per-hour.
Giving the supple, quiet ride the Pathfinder offers on the street, it felt surprisingly stiff in our handling course, exhibiting very little body roll. But, our speeds were kept well in check with a fairly aggressive stability system that robbed power before we could get to the point of finding any oversteer or understeer.
The stiffness is a result of a new design for the front suspension mounts, as well as upgraded dampers for the multi-link rear setup. Wider tires, and a new dual-pinion electric power steering system, work together to provide more stability, as well as quicker steering response.
Nissan’s new Intelligent all-wheel-drive system is integrated into the Drive and Terrain Mode Selector with 7 to choose from. It’s plenty suitable for off-road excursions, but aids in handling as well, by anticipating slip and proportioning power appropriately.
Brakes were quite impressive, bringing this heavy utility to fade free, consistent stops from 60 in just 97-feet.
Nissan’s standard Safety Shield 360 includes automatic braking, and ProPilot Assist is now standard on all but the base Pathfinder.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 21-City, 27-Highway, and 23-Combined; we averaged a fine 23.7 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
For an average Energy Impact Score of 14.3-barrels of yearly oil use with 6.3-tons of CO2 emissions. Pricing starts at $34,560; with all-wheel-drive a $1,900 option for any of the 4 available trims.
After years of making crossover SUVs more and more car like, the current trend is returning things back to a more rugged and simpler time. Well, at least as far as looks are concerned. Still the 5th generation 2022 Nissan Pathfinder does have a rich history to draw from, and delivers what today’s buyers need in a family crossover better than ever; but does so with one eye on the past, and one eye focused on adventure.
Engine: 3.5L V6
Torque: 259 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 7.7 seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.9 seconds @ 89 mph
EPA: 21 City / 27 Highway / 23 Combined