The New Nissan Pathfinder: Everything You Need to Know

Nissan model comparison
Model comparison | Source: Nissan

They say that competition breeds results, and as automakers work to keep up with the steady onslaught of SUV sales, Nissan shows that it’s ready to do battle. The Japanese automaker didn’t wait long to overhaul the Pathfinder, which got its last refresh back in 2013, but in today’s cut-throat market, it was time. Generally considered among the all-around solid SUV choices, the next-gen Pathfinder is getting a refresh for the 2017 model year, with a more taut exterior, a plethora of fresh safety and tech perks, several of interior updates, and some added grunt for good measure.

“The Nissan Pathfinder has an amazing heritage as one of the modern pioneers in the SUV segment, with more than 30 years in the marketplace, yet we are always looking forward – as the Pathfinder name implies,” said Michael Bunce, vice president, product planning, Nissan North America. “For 2017, Pathfinder receives much more than your typical facelift. It now offers more power, towing capability, improved driving dynamics and new available driver assistance features –more of what you need for safe, comfortable every day and weekend family adventures.”

2016 Pathfinder vs. 2017 model
2016 Pathfinder vs. 2017 model | Source: Nissan

Still sporting a seven-passenger layout and S, SV, SL, and Platinum trim levels, the 2017 Pathfinder’s external upgrades include a new grille for better cooling performance and a new front lower lip. The latter has been moved forward and directs air downward, while not compromising approach angles during off-road driving and preventing drag reduction. A foot-activated liftgate with position memory settings is now available, and comes standard on SL and Platinum trims, while recessed windshield wipers, LED lights, roof rails, chrome door handles, and privacy glass add some extra exterior flair. On the Platinum line, an available dual-panorama moonroof comes standard, as do 20-inch alloy wheels, while all other models receive 18-inch rollers.

Inside, Nissan says it is focusing heavily on “convenience and connectivity”; cupholders are reshaped to hold mug handles, front storage bins are now illuminated, and two USB ports replace the previous single port. But the biggest update has to be the Pathfinder’s fresh array of technology: The standard multi information display (MID) in the center of the instrument cluster now features additional infotainment and driver assistance notifications, and voice recognition has been enhanced with a new HD microphone. The standard 8.0-inch touchscreen is an inch bigger than the old one, and pairs with both the standard voice-recognizing NissanConnect system and the available navigation system, which comes standard on the Platinum.

NissanConnect Services also feature automatic collision notifications, emergency calling and stolen vehicle locator, customizable alerts, dealer service scheduling, and maintenance warnings, all of which come standard on Platinum models. Voice recognition is good for navigation, Bluetooth, calling, and other amenities, and includes a “one-shot voice destination entry,” as well as three years of SiriusXM Traffic. The Pathfinder also includes standard SiriusXM Travel Link with three years of free service, so you’ll always be up to speed on sports, movie listings, stock prices, fuel costs, and weather.

The new Pathfinder also includes a flat floor for enhanced interior flexibility, boosting overall interior roominess to 173.8 cubic feet with Nissan’s innovative EZ Flex Seating System allowing second row tilt and glide seating for easy third row access. This means child safety seats can remain securely in place on the passenger side, and with snazzy new cloth seat fabrics in S and SV grades, buyers may not feel the need to upgrade to SL and Platinum levels for feelings of refinement. But if they do feel the urge to splurge, leather-appointed seating comes standard on these top tier models, along with heated and cooled front seats, a heated second row bench, electric steering adjust, keyless entry, user memory settings, and a 13-speaker Bose Audio System.

Nissan SUV
Nissan SUV | Source: Nissan

Fresh tech added to the 2017 Pathfinder includes an available Around View Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection (MOD), Tri-Zone Automatic Climate Control, and a tri-zone family entertainment system with second row head restraint-mounted screens. The rear displays are now 8 inches wide instead of 7, and include auto brightness controls, as well as USB and HDMI rear inputs, all of which can now be easily controlled from the front with a far more user-friendly display.

The 2017 Pathfinder has also received an overhaul in the engine department, as its 3.5-liter V6 now produces more power, torque, and towing capacity. According to Nissan, it utilizes “more than 56% new or new-to-Pathfinder engine parts and components,” including changes to the combustion chamber design, pistons, intake manifold, and e-VTC system. Compression ratios have also been bumped, and throttle response has been improved along with fuel economy. Horsepower is up to 284 over the previous 260 ponies, with torque climbing to 259 pound-feet over the previous 240. Perhaps surprisingly, Pathfinder’s average fuel economy still hovers around an estimated 22 miles per gallon in 2WD models after the updates.

Nissan Pathfinder comparison
Pathfinder comparison | Source: Nissan

When properly equipped with a tow package, maximum hauling capacity jumps 1,000 pounds over the old model, to a best-in-class 3-ton limit due primarily to the enhanced powertrain and body reinforcements added around the trailer hitch area. A clever third-generation Xtronic transmission (which comes standard on all 2017 versions) helps optimize engine RPM under load so hunting for a gear won’t be an issue. The addition of a standard Hill Start Assist system helps when starting on a steep incline, while standard Hill Descent Control on 4WD models keeps things under wraps by adjusting speed and brake pressure when traveling down steep grades.

Rolling over from previous models, the Pathfinder does still retain selectable 2WD, Auto, or 4WD Lock modes from the ALL-MODE 4×4-i system, which doesn’t bother us considering it’s still the only vehicle in its class that allows drivers to choose full-time 2WD for maximum fuel gains. Naturally, Auto mode automatically monitors conditions and tweaks power between front and rear wheels for ideal traction, while 4WD Lock mode provides consistent power to all four wheels, regardless of driving conditions.

The four-wheel independent suspension has been extensively retuned for enhanced driving dynamics, with improved body stiffness, and a far more refined ride as the ultimate goal. Some of the revisions include 11% stiffer front shocks and 7% firmer rears, with rebound springs being added to help assist with reducing body roll, as spring rates within the rear rebound springs make things 25% tighter. In addition to all of this, an overhauled hydraulic electric steering system allows steering ratios to be 11% quicker due to a revised valve design, resulting in enhanced maneuverability and driver confidence.

Safety-wise, the 2017 Pathfinder relies on a lot of fresh technology, including new emergency braking and intelligent cruise control, as moving object detection gets added to the available Around View monitor. Blind spot warnings and rear cross traffic alerts are available as well, making the 2017 model that much more of winner on paper.