2017 Nissan Pathfinder

CARMEL, Calif. — For 2017, Nissan has refreshed the Pathfinder, its mid-sized three-row crossover utility vehicle. In fact, Nissan calls it a major redesign of the fourth generation model, introduced in 2013. The new design moves away from a rugged off-road look to a softer family-friendly style. Most noticeable is the new “V Motion” grille that, oddly, has more of a “U” shape, but is consistent with other newly restyled and released Nissan products.

There are also new boomerang-shaped headlamps with LED daytime running lamps, a re-sculpted hood, and reworked front and rear bumpers. Platinum-grade models get standard LED headlamps as well.

Out back, with new taillights and bumper, Nissan calls the style more “adventurous.” And, for the first time, Pathfinder gets an available motion-activated rear liftgate that rises with a simple wave of a foot beneath the rear bumper. There’s also a memory feature for the opening height.

The new styling not only gives the Pathfinder a more contemporary and updated look, it also affords more aerodynamic proportions, reducing Pathfinder’s drag coefficient without compromising the approach angle for off-roading.

Nissan designers bring new changes to the inside as well. The front center console pocket is now illuminated and has two USB outlets in the storage bin. Two newly styled cupholders can accommodate cups with handles and larger “Big Gulp” drinks.

There’s a standard eight-inch touch screen on the center stack, up from the previous car’s seven-inch unit, plus you get Bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition operational commands. A new advanced drive assist display in the center of the gauge cluster and expanded Nissan Connect® services for the next generation infotainment system highlight the interior changes. Disappointingly, however, Apple CarPlay — which was added to the 2017 Maxima — and Android Auto, are conspicuously missing.

New driver assist and safety technology include forward emergency braking, moving object detection and intelligent cruise control. While Nissan sibling Infiniti offers an automatic braking feature that intervenes when the driver fails to detect something behind the vehicle when backing up, Nissan continues to refrain from offering the technology on its vehicles.

Nissan also revised the standard 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 56 percent new parts.  Horsepower increases from 260 to 284 and engine torque from 240 pound feet to 259 to achieve a 6,000-pound tow rating, an increase of 1,000 pounds.  As with previous year models, the Pathfinder offers selectable two-wheel front-drive or four-wheel drive lock modes for the four-wheel drive system. But with only seven inches of ground clearance, this isn’t a credible off-road vehicle. Rather, it is meant for snow or on light unpaved trails to get to campgrounds and fishing streams.

All Pathfinder models are equipped with Nissan’s third-generation Xtronic CVT transmission that simulates shifting in a more natural manner than conventional CVT transmissions. It’s the only transmission offered.

Even with the additional horsepower and towing capabilities, fuel economy remains rated at 20/27 mpg city/highway for two-wheel drive models. All-wheel drive variants get 19/26 mpg city/highway.

Nissan engineers extensively retuned the independent suspension, contributing to Pathfinder’s enhanced driving dynamics. On the road, improved handling and ride dynamics are most noticeable. The steering is now eleven percent quicker for enhanced maneuverability.

For 2017, the Pathfinder is offered in four trim levels: S, SV, SL and Platinum. As of this writing Nissan is not planning to bring back a hybrid variant of the Pathfinder.

With sales of crossover utility vehicles booming, the Pathfinder definitely finds itself in the midst of a growth market and shoppers will find the newly refreshed version more in tune to the real-world needs of urban and suburban customers.

Vital Stats

Price: $31,000 to $51,000 (Estimated)
Seating: 3-row/7- passenger
Engine: 3.5-Liter V-6
Horsepower: 284 hp
Fuel Economy: 20-MPG City – 27-MPG Highway

Fab Features

Fresh updated styling inside and out
Advanced driver assistance features
Quiet, comfortable driving and handling

— Jim Prueter