If there is an SUV that’s seen dramatic changes over the years, it’s the Nissan Pathfinder. The first-generation model dates back to the late 1980s and it’s been an important player in the SUV market for years.
These days it’s no longer a rugged truck-based SUV but a softer, car-based people hauler that competes against the Toyota Highlander, GMC Acadia, and Honda Pilot.
There are some design tweaks and significant improvements under the hood for 2017, following its long overdue redesign in 2013.
Stylish, But Doesn’t Push the Envelope
I wouldn’t call it edgy necessarily, but the tweaked 2017 Pathfinder is stylish enough to make itself known. Plus, I’m a fan of my tester’s Blue Caspian hue.
The 2017 model has revised taillights and a more aggressive front-end and grille. (But it’s certainly not polarizing like the new Lexus or Toyota Camry grilles.) The entire lineup comes with painted silver finish roof rack rails.
The Platinum trim has a bunch of chrome details on the exterior that jazz things up, including on the grille, door handles, and body-side molding. The trim also comes with LED projector low beams and 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
Inside, the almond leather appointed interior looks great in my Platinum tester. The 8-way power heated and cooled driver seat is comfy, too. There are heated 2nd-row seats as well. There’s even a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel.
If there was a surprise about the interior it’s that there were so many hard surfaces on the top-of-the-line model, especially when it comes to the dash. It’s not glossy, which is a plus, but it’s definitely plastic. There were, however, softer touch materials on the front seat door panels.
The seven-seater is roomy, especially in the front and 2nd-row seat (which beats the competition for leg room.) But the third-row seat isn’t the roomiest in its class. Nissan’s EZ Flex seating system with LATCH and Glide technology provides a 2nd row 60/40 split and 3rd row 50/50 split.
The great visibility out the front and back is definitely worth a mention on the Pathfinder. Up top, too, thanks to the Dual Panel Panoramic Moonroof which really brightens the back rear seats. Convenience technology features include remote keyless start and a motion-activated liftgate.
One great standout feature is Nissan’s Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection on the Platinum and SL trims. It’s a fantastic 360-degree view of the area surrounding the car that shows up on the 8-inch touchscreen that also houses all your NissanConnect apps, navigation map and other information. Note, the Pathfinder doesn’t offer Apple Carplay or Android Auto.
A 13-speaker Bose Premium Sound System with Acoustic Waveguide Technology comes standard on the Platinum as well, and, wow, is it something else. It pumped out some fantastic sound. It made up for the antiquated center infotainment system that did the job but wasn’t very exciting or modern. It’s still heavy on traditional knobs, like for the three-zone climate control, and the fake wood trim didn’t do much for me.
More Horsepower and Towing Capacity
The Pathfinder gets some improvements under the hood for 2017 — and that includes an updated V6 engine for some extra horsepower. It gives you 284 horses, up substantially from 260. There is more torque too – it’s 259 up from 240. It’s mated to Nissan’s third-gen CVT. You can definitely hear it when you floor it, as to be expected with a CVT. There is also a slightly stiffer suspension over 2016 for a firmer ride.
The 2017 Pathfinder also increases its towing capacity to a class-leading 6,000 pounds, which is more than its competitors. For comparison, here’s a look at some the numbers:
- 2017 Honda Pilot V6 : 280 hp / 5000 lbs
- 2017 Toyota Highlander V6 : 295 hp / 5000 lbs
- 2018 GMC Acadia V6 : 310 hp / 4000 lbs
While it’s not a vehicle I’d see taking on the Rubicon trail, the Pathfinder does offer an available 4X4 4WD driving with Hill Start Assist and Descent Control should the mood strike you. But it doesn’t have a lot of ground clearance since it’s car-based (which also means it’s easy to get in and out of.)
2017 vs 2018 Safety Tech
The Pathfinder Platinum trim comes standard with advanced safety features like blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, intelligent cruise control, and forward emergency braking. But it doesn’t come with active lane keep or lane departure alert or predictive forward warning collision and most of those are available on competitors like the Pilot and Highlander.
If you’re considering a 2017, also keep this in mind. The 2018 Pathfinder will come with Nissan’s brand new Rear Door Alert along with Standard Automatic Emergency Braking. Both features will be standard across the entire Pathfinder model range.