The older version of the Nissan Pathfinder, introduced in 2012, didn’t feel fresh in the ultra-competitive midsize SUV segment. It was average, thus placing it pretty far down the list for families looking to get a larger vehicle. The Japanese automaker redesigned the car from A to Z, and boy, what an upgrade! Let’s dig a little deeper into what makes this new generation of Nissan Pathfinder more competitive than its predecessor. Our test model had an MSRP of $55,348 and was built at the Smyrna, TN, plant.
The Pathfinder’s glow-up starts from the outside, going from a rounded look to a squared, more muscular design. The circular headlights have disappeared in favour of LED lights placed horizontally to emphasize the modern look of the vehicle. The front grille is larger and stands out more than ever. The side profile aligns with the competition, with the two-tone colour scheme and the more prominent wheel arches. The distinction here would be the Pathfinder name printed on a chrome plaque on the lower part of both rear doors. In the back, a more streamlined look with the taillights along the light bars on the trunk door and the letters Pathfinder placed on the door improves the vehicle’s overall appearance. The design will seduce buyers at first sight, which wasn’t the case with the previous model.
The glow-up continues inside the new Nissan Pathfinder with the fully digital gauge cluster and enhanced infotainment system in the middle. The steering wheel is now modern and sleek. Its appearance has significantly improved with the buttons on each spoke and the addition of paddle shifters. The new 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, which you can customize in many shapes and forms, is a massive upgrade over the tiny LCD screen tucked between the two gauges on the previous model. The Chestnut leather placed all over the vehicle warms up the interior; all these details make a huge difference. Nissan also improved the central infotainment screen with their new 9-inch touchscreen, which is more responsive and intuitive. The graphics have mainly enhanced too, and the climate controls are now separated to be able to change the temperature quickly. It looks less cluttered than the previous model, which was seriously outdated. Overall, the appearance has vastly improved the interior, and the credit goes to Nissan’s designers.
The main benefit of choosing this larger Pathfinder over the more diminutive Rogue is the added interior room in the second and third rows. You can move the second-row captain chairs to allow more legroom for the third-row occupants. Another benefit of the second row is that they get an additional climate, individual heated seats and added USB ports to charge devices. The rear door opening is wider to ease the process of getting in and out of the third row. As you might expect, it is smaller, but you can still fit three children easily. The trunk space is still quite ample, even with the row in place, but you can quickly recline it by pulling on the latch on each seat. The ISOFIX ports are visible, and the rear anchors are easy to reach.
Under the hood of the new Nissan Pathfinder, you will find that the powertrain was upgraded rather than changed. The Japanese automaker keeps using the reliable 3.5L V6 engine but is now mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. The old CVT was prone to fail; let’s hope the new one will fare much better in the reliability department. The numbers are unchanged in this vehicle: you still get 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque, which is what you would expect in this class. The towing capacity remains unchanged, too, at 6,000 lbs, which is why Nissan kept the V6 rather than switching to a 4-cylinder. A nice change to the lineup is that all Pathfinders sold in Canada are all-wheel drive, which simplifies the choice for prospective buyers in this segment. The downside here is the average fuel economy which is only average for a midsize SUV: the announced figures are 9.2L/100km on the highway, 11.6 in the city and 10.5 on average. On the highway, the figure is accurate, but in the city, we were closer to 15, and the average was never under 12L/100km.
On the road, the new Pathfinder has a nice planted feeling. In the past, the suspension felt wiggly, Nissan corrected this, and the vehicle is now more stable and firm. The seats’ comfort is undeniable, bringing a more solid impression on the highway. Twisty roads won’t be a problem either, the driving dynamics as a whole have been a focal point of improvements, and the difference is notable: the vehicle is more pleasant to drive daily. The transmission shifts swiftly between gears and thus provides a better driving experience than the previous CVT. The steering is still over-assisted to help the driver navigate in an urban area, but it still is a vast improvement. You can also select a drive mode, which will modify the behaviour of specific vehicle functions in the snow, sand, mud and for towing, making it the most polyvalent vehicle in its lineup.
To recap, Nissan has done a much-needed upgrade of the Pathfinder. It was in dire need of change, and the automaker put together a truly competitive vehicle on the market. Inside and out, the amount of work done is astonishing; you have the old and the new model side by side to understand the new generation’s refinement level. This is truly an outstanding choice for any family looking at a seven-passenger, and the Pathfinder sends the message that it is ready to fight with the top dogs in the midsize segment.
Nissan has lent us this vehicle as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Nissan Canada. The above reflects our personal opinion.