The new Pathfinder is quite the looker in this flashy Sandstone paintwork!
It is quite unusual for a family crossover to attract as much attention as this beauty received in our care for a week. The facelift definitely works at reinvigorating the Pathfinder’s style, then.
But the 2017 refresh for the Pathfinder is actually more than skin-deep.
An all-new 3.5-liter V6 is the big news under the redesigned hood – upping the tow rating to 6000-pounds and juicing the 0-60 times as well.
Is the refresh enough to make the Pathfinder top of the class with the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and many other rivals?
Let’s dive into the full review and find out! Standard section headings of Exterior, Interior, Performance and Pricing join a few dozen photos.
Has it really been three years since this Pathfinder bodystyle debuted as a 2013 model?
The look was definitely aging gracefully, even if not quite setting the pulses racing for the 2016 model-year. The creamy makeover and smooth bodysides are more practical than they are butch – but this speaks to the Pathfinder’s new mission as a car-based, three-row crossover. Does it look more SUV-ish than the
This refresh for 2017 brings a new hood, new bumpers front and back, and new headlamps with a chic and safe LED daytime running light accent for the first time. Along with the blacked-out main grille (under the chrome V-motion bars!), the fresh projector-beam headlamps are perfect for updating the Pathfinder to 2017 style.
The loaded Platinum test truck goes one better than just the standard DRLs that grace all four trim levels of Pathfinder for 2017. The Pathfinder Platinum adds LED lowbeams for the main headlights and some fresh 20-inch machined alloy wheels to beef up the look fairly effectively. Still halogens for the highbeams and foglamps, but the lighting package both looks better and performs better at lighting the road ahead. Your Path, as it were….
The 2017 Pathfinder’s tail is fresh with new shaping to the liftgate and rear bumper, but no LED brake lights back there unfortunately.
Versus the Pilot and the Highlander?
The Pathfinder is now more than current and competitive. This nose is really the hook, however, to help the new Pathfinder feel fresh as a daisy.
Applause for Nissan on the standard LEDs – you still have to be in the top Highlander Limited and up-trim Pilot to have any LED goodness.
The Pathfinder’s cabin brings a standard eight-inch touchscreen for display audio in 2017 along with a new mid-cluster display between the gauges.
The Pathfinder Platinum really benefits from the “Advanced Driver Assist Display” upgrade in the midcluster. This was a sore point on a few Nissans lately – where they suffer versus the latest displays from rivals in this central line-of-sight area.
The Nissan Pathfinder definitely has lots of safety tech to populate the region! New for 2017 are Forward Emergency Braking and active cruise control, which Nissan calls ICC for Intelligent Cruise Control. A richer range of overall info is nice in the mid-cluster even when the adaptive cruise or lane-keep assist systems are not engaged.
The AroundView monitor system that creates a top view all around the car is still fairly unique in the segment, and very very helpful for parking in tight spots. The normal backup camera and proximity alerts around back combine forces to make a very easy-to-park machine.
Other newness for 2017 is Moving Object Detection for the rear cross traffic alert and an improved blindspot monitoring system.
While our tester was the loaded Platinum model, the standard features on the S, SV and SL models are impressive nonetheless. They include the jumbo color display, Bluetooth connect for phone calls AND streaming audio, backup camera and the ADAD midcluster display. Trizone climate control, SXM radio and the flex sliding system are all astandard across the board, too.
Speaking the seating! The new Pathfinder continues a segment-best level of roominess in the third row and a very low floor back there in general. Getting in and out is a piece of cake. The slide/fold of the second row is still the easiest in its class. The Highlander takes more strength to shove the second row forward, while the new Acadia does not open as wide a footpath for those getting in and out of the wayback.
Speaking of the Acadia! While it also has a flat floor for 2017, it is much tighter in shoulder and headroom counts than the Pathfinder. Just two seatbelts in the third row of both – but the Pathfinder can fit real, adult-sized humans back there much more comfortably.
Double moonroof panels are nice in the Pathfinder Platinum, especially for lightening up the atmosphere in the back of the car. It tends to be pretty glum and dark in all Highlanders back there until you spring for the $50k Highlander Limited Platinum with its panoramic glass roof.
Road noise and overall refinement in the Pathfinder are still near the best in the segment, especially when at normal cruising pace. The Pathfinder’s third-gen Xtronic CVT makes for a chill and calm drive with the engine barely idling to keep pace with highway traffic.
The standard V6 is up 24 horsepower and 19 pound-feet of torque for all 2017 Pathfinders – and the results are outstanding!
The Pathfinder now feels about a half-second quicker to 60-mph and has a real top-end urge that was missing previously. Half the engine parts are new for this year – and the extra power comes from the addition of direct injection and electronic variable intake timing. Highway mileage sticks at 27-mpg while town driving is rated at 20-mpg. Both up a few MPGs versus Highlander in particular, which is a bit thirstier than folks may expect.
Big low-end grunt too? Somewhat! Versus the Highlander V6 or the 2.5-liter four that comes standard in the new GMC Acadia, the Pathfinder is very speedy off the line. Perhaps not objectively a rapid car, though, as the 0-60-mph time is still in the high 7’s. This is off the pace of the BMW X5 xDrive35i by about two seconds, but then again, the Pathfinder is about $20k cheaper than a three-row X5.
Speaking of the X5 and premium Euro rivals….
Is the Pathfinder’s new handling on par with the best SUVs in the world around corners?
Nissan has retuned the suspension all around and increased the chassis stiffness in the tail for 2017. It definitely handles better than before, that is a sure thing. Roadholding was respectable previously, too, but the car had pretty excessive body roll in fast moves.
Pleased to report that the new Pathfinder feels much more buttoned-up in fast driving. Even the steering – once lighter than air – has a bit more feel and heft at speed. Still ultralight when parking, as buyers will appreciate.
We especially loved feeling the 4WD system’s “lock” setting. This is a choice between full auto 4×4 and just 4×2. When stopped, you can twist the drive knob to the Lock setting and really feel the heft of the Pathfinder when all four paws are gripping. It is notably noisier and has some graunch in tight corners when Lock is engaged. But happily, the Lock appears to stay engaged well past 55-mph — unlike any Lexus RX or Highlander, which disengages the Lock mode around 30mph.
The sense of grip and confidence from a Lock mode this good is an asset for the Pathfinder.
Especially with its new, best-in-class tow rating! We’re up 1000 to 6000 pounds max tow rating with the tow package.
Thankfully, the lockable 4×4 and more powerful V6 will inspire plenty of confidence even when towing midsize boats or even a two-car trailer.
Our test Pathfinder had almost all the bells/whistles aside from the rear theater package. From its $43,560 base price we only add $900 shipping and $225 woven carpet mats — for a grand total of $44,685. It feels like tremendous value for such a roomy machine.
More power and better style are an easy recipe for a happy mid-cycle update on any car. The Pathfinder’s new looks and improved drive manners definitely prove themselves on the road. For seating a full seven adults and scoring 26-MPG highway, we salute the new Pathfinder. For the record, a few folks even stopped us to chat about the Pathfinder’s most polarizing detail: its Sandstone paintwork! Like the color, the car’s charm and capability will grow on you like a best friend’s smile.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.