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For the midsize SUV segment, the sheer number of options can overwhelm any choice. Even though many great options are available, the less popular models sometimes get overlooked. Take the Pathfinder from Nissan. Starting under $40,000, the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder might be the perfect family SUV you haven’t considered. After driving the Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek for a week, we’re here to praise this adventure-ready model with more personality than the average bear.

Why is the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder a good family SUV?

Inside the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek
Inside the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek | Nissan

Even at first glance, the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder looks ready for the less traveled road. With its distinct shape and rugged design, the Pathfinder is adventure-ready and comfortable for the whole family. Depending on how many passengers you need to carry around regularly, Nissan’s midsize SUV can seat seven or eight passengers.

The seven-passenger configuration was ideal when Nissan sent us the Pathfinder Rock Creek to test out. It made the third row more accessible and freed up some important second-row space. Those who opt for the bench seating will probably appreciate Nissan’s EZ FLEX seats that tip forward for third-row access.

Even in the third row, the air conditioning worked well. That’s partially thanks to all Pathfinder trim levels’ tri-zone climate control system. The Pathfinder provides plenty of space throughout the cabin for a family of four or more. Behind the third row, 16.6 cubic feet of cargo capacity was enough for groceries and smaller bags. Nissan says it has room for four golf bags, but I didn’t have four golf bags to test that theory. It fit all of our groceries and then some.

The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is affordable and fuel-efficient

You don’t need the top-of-the-line Nissan Pathfinder to get a well-equipped SUV. We drove the Rock Creek trim, which starts at $43,020, but the base S trim starts at $35,200. All of the trim levels come with two-wheel drive (2WD), but four-wheel drive (4WD) is an optional upgrade (except on the Rock Creek). Depending on how you plan to adventure with your Nissan SUV, a lower trim level with four-wheel drive could be the perfect combination. In addition, the top trim adds off-road capability with a small suspension lift, all-terrain tires, and more.

2023 Nissan Pathfinder TrimsMSRP (2WD)MSRP (4WD)
Rock Creek$43,020
2023 Nissan Pathfinder price and trim levels

Nissan ensured the Pathfinder is fuel efficient enough that you won’t need frequent gas station visits. Two-wheel drive models get 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Four-wheel drive models get 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway for the most part. We found that Nissan’s gas mileage estimates were pretty spot on for the Rock Creek, which has a slightly lower fuel economy than the rest. During testing, a tank lasted us all week, including highway and plenty of city traffic driving.

Nissan emphasized safety with the 2023 Pathfinder.

All 2023 Pathfinder trim levels come with Nissan Safety Shield 360, which includes many important systems. Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are standard. Nissan also included High Beam Assist for better visibility.

You don’t have to take our word that the Pathfinder is safe, but the systems worked well and even prevented a mishap in the Target parking lot. Blind Spot Warning alerted us to a nearby vehicle just out of view. The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder also earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus award. The midsize SUV earned high marks in all seven main crashworthiness tests. Since the IIHS also tested the crash avoidance and mitigation systems, those all earned “superior” scores.

Overall, Nissan did a great job with the 2023 Pathfinder and all of its offerings. If you want a family-friendly SUV that comes with plenty of standard features that make life easier, the Pathfinder checks all those boxes.


The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Beats Its EPA Fuel Economy Figures, Even With a Lead Foot