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Every new model year, most SUVs get changed in many different ways. Whether it’s a new trim, new equipment, different styling cues, or just a higher price, most cars will change year after year. The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is getting more off-road capable than in 2022 with the Rock Creek edition. However, the off-road model costs a pretty penny, so is it worth paying all that cash for the Pathfinder? Is the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder a worthy off-roader for $44,115?

What’s new with the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder?

A gray Nissan PAthfinder parked outside. WHy isn't it more popular in the midsize three-row SUV segment?
2023 Nissan Pathfinder | Nissan

According to Car and Driver, a few things changed with the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder. First, the automaker added the new Rock Creek trim level. It’s an off-roading-focused model that adds a lot to the lineup. More importantly, it’s the fifth trim and is the fourth most costly. Only the Platinum trim at $49,265 remains more expensive than the Rock Creek. Besides the new trim, no other changes are available for the 2023 model year. As a result, if you’re not interested in the off-road trim, there’s really no reason not to buy the more affordable 2022 model-year version.

What is the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek?

The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek is a version of the SUV intended for off-roading. As a result, it has a few things that make it off-road-ready straight from the factory. For example, Edmunds says the Rock Creek edition has an off-road-tuned suspension with a 0.6-inch lift. Next, all-terrain tires come standard on 18-inch wheels. Additionally, a tubular roof rack with up to a 220-pound payload capacity is also standard.

Then, other things make the Pathfinder better for off-roading. LED foglights, increased horsepower with premium fuel, standard all-wheel drive, a special grille, and simulated leather seating with cloth inserts are all part of the Rock Creek trim. Do all of these features combined make the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder a worthy off-roader? How does its starting price compare to those offered by rival midsize SUVs?

Is it worth $44,115?

2023 Ford Explorer Timberline driving off-road in the desert.
2023 Ford Explorer Timberline | Ford

According to Car and Driver, the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek starts at $44,115. Although it isn’t particularly expensive for a midsize SUV, how does it compare with other off-road-ready models? For example, one similarly-sized midsize three-row SUV is the 2023 Ford Explorer. Just like the new Pathfinder, it offers a single off-road-focused trim level. The Explorer Timberline starts at $49,975 and is well-equipped.

First, the Explorer Timberline comes with most features from the XLT trim. For off-roading, it includes all-wheel drive, a limited-slip rear differential, 18-inch alloy wheels with all-terrain tires, an off-road-tuned suspension with added ground clearance, underbody skid plates, trailer towing equipment, unique front styling, front tow hooks, simulated leather upholstery with cloth inserts, and heated second-row seats.

Although the two share most of the same off-roading features, it’s clear the Explorer has more. However, it’s also roughly $5,000 more expensive than the Pathfinder Rock Creek. Is it worth the extra cash?

Pathfinder Rock Creek: A worthy light off-roader

In conclusion, we think the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek is a worthy light off-roader for the price. It isn’t going to compete with the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler, or Toyota 4Runner for off-roading. However, it has some features that allow it to take some dirt trails and climb a few small hills. For the price, we think the Rock Creek edition is value-filled, as it comes in much cheaper than rivals. For $44,115, it’s nearly as well-equipped as a Ford Explorer Timberline, which is much closer to $50,000.


Is the 2022 Ford Explorer Timberline a Good Off-Road SUV?