2022 Nissan Pathfinder first drive review: More tech, more toughness

It’s hard to think of a better name for an SUV than the Pathfinder. It has adventure and military connotations (the Pathfinder paratroopers were the first American soldiers to put boots on the ground during the D-Day landings of World War II) and was also very fitting for the original Nissan Pathfinder. When it was launched in the 1980s, the Pathfinder was one of the first modern SUVs to take the auto industry down a new path.

Fast forward three decades, though, and the new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is no longer a trendsetter. Three-row family SUVs like this redesigned model are now common with vehicles such as the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride Twins, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander, and Volkswagen Atlas.

So Nissan threw its all in the 2022 Pathfinder. This fifth-generation version gets more technology — including a first-ever digital instrument cluster, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a long list of standard driver aids — as well as clever storage solutions and a restyled exterior, among other things.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder hits dealerships this summer in S, SV, SL and Platinum trim levels with standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. Pricing ranges from $34,560 for the base front-wheel drive Pathfinder S to $49,240 for the range-topping all-wheel drive Platinum (both prices include the mandatory $1,150 destination fee). We tested the Platinum model for this review.

Profile view of 2022 Nissan Pathfinder.

design and interior

In the past, the Nissan Pathfinder has used truck-like body-on-frame construction, but the modern version is a crossover, with car-like unibody construction. That didn’t stop Nissan from trying to make the new Pathfinder look like an old, old-school truck.

In a media presentation ahead of our test drive, Nissan’s senior manager of product planning, Vishnu Jayamohan, said the automaker has bucked the conventional wisdom that taller and lower is better, making the 2022 Pathfinder shorter and taller than its predecessor. It is done. Jayamohan said that this makes passengers feel less cramped. It also gives Pathfinder a very bold look.

Where the last Pathfinder was an anonymous blob, the new version really stands out. The upright profile and tall hood is what SUV buyers expect and many competitors have too. But Nissan’s shield-shaped grille, unusual headlights (mounted high on the fenders), and two-tone color options give it more personality.

Where the last Pathfinder was an anonymous blob, the new version really stands out.

The 2022 Pathfinder also features a well-appointed interior. Our range-topping Platinum test car had leather upholstery (with heated and ventilated front seats) and a spacious panoramic moonroof. Unlike most competitors, the quality of the materials also felt worthy of this vehicle’s nearly $50,000 price tag. The Pathfinder can also be equipped with 16 cup holders, just short of the Subaru Ascent’s record of 19 cup holders.

The Pathfinder is available with eight seats at first, or seven if equipped with optional second row captain’s chairs. Passenger space is pretty close to that of the outgoing Pathfinder, but the 2022 model has more front-row headroom and legroom (both figures are also best in class). Nissan also added an auxiliary one-touch latch for the second row, which slides the seats forward with the push of a button. This is much easier than the usual second row shuffle and even works with a forward-facing car seat.

At 16.6 cubic feet with all three rows, 45 cubic feet with the third row, and 80.5 cubic feet with both the second and third rows, cargo space is similar to the outgoing Pathfinder, and slightly below average. Nissan at least included a washable storage bin under the cargo floor, which should come in handy for things like dirty hiking boots. Up front, a raised center console keeps controls within easy reach, while the bottom makes room for a storage cubby.

The dashboard of the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder.

Tech, infotainment and driver assist

The standard infotainment system includes an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, but the options list includes a 9-inch touchscreen, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, 10.8-inch heads-up display, a built-in Wi-Fi display, and more. -Fi hot spot, wireless Apple CarPlay (Android users can’t cut the cord), and 13-speaker Bose audio system.

Nissan offers USB ports for all three lines, but not as standard equipment. The Pathfinder comes standard with one USB-A and one USB-C port for each of the first two lines, but the third line’s USB ports are an additional cost option and USB-A only. Wireless smartphone charging is also available with an angled charging pad, which prevents the phone from being moved around while driving.

The infotainment system is basic but functional. Even with the Platinum trim level’s high-end system, you don’t get many bells and whistles, but you do get crisp-looking graphics, a responsive touchscreen, and easy-to-navigate menus.

You don’t get many bells and whistles, but you do get crisp graphics and a responsive touchscreen.

The Pathfinder Nissan Safety Shield 360 comes standard with bundled driver aids, including automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, automatic high beam, rear automatic braking, driver attention monitor, and traffic signals identification.

Options include Nissan’s Intelligent Around View Monitor 360-degree camera system and ProPilot Assist, which combines adaptive cruise control with automatic lane focusing for highway driving. Propilot Assist has been available on some Nissan models for several years, but the Pathfinder SL and Platinum trim levels get a new Navi-Link version that can actively slow the car down for highway curves or off-ramps.

We didn’t get to test Propilot Assist with the Navi-Link during our short drives, but in the past we’ve found that the standard Propilot Assist system is of limited use in regular driving. However, it still offers more capability than the driver-assistance features available in other three-row crossovers.

The digital instrument cluster of the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder.

driving experience

The Pathfinder’s 3.5-litre V6 engine carries over from the previous generation. It makes the same 284 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque as before, but it’s paired with a new nine-speed automatic transmission and a retuned all-wheel drive system.

The geared nine-speed automatic replaces the continuously variable transmission (CVT) used in the previous generation Pathfinder. Nissan has been a supporter of CVTs because of their fuel economy benefits, but these transmissions are generally disliked by driving enthusiasts due to their sluggish behavior.

According to Nissan, the nine-speed automatic transmission provides more torque from a standstill, which helps with towing. We didn’t get to test that claim, but it’s worth noting that the Pathfinder’s 6,000-pound maximum towing capacity (unchanged from the previous generation) is pretty impressive, considering that most competitors are only rated for 5,000 pounds. has gone.

The new transmission switched to quick turnaround to maintain the flow of electricity.

The new transmission has also improved the Pathfinder’s on-road driving dynamics, with quick turn off stops to keep the power flowing. The Pathfinder doesn’t have the most powerful powertrain in its segment, but acceleration was more than adequate. We were also impressed with the ride quality and overall calmness of the interior, but noted the average tire noise. Pathfinder also didn’t hide its shape; It always felt like a big vehicle and it was hard to drive with precision.

Nissan has also upgraded the Pathfinder’s all-wheel drive system, giving it a new clutch setup that can transfer power to the rear wheels more quickly, said Jayamohan, Nissan’s product planner. Jayamohan said it’s still not good enough for hardcore off-roading, but should provide better traction on loose surfaces. The Pathfinder also gets seven driving modes (Standard, Sport, Eco, Snow, Sand, Mud/Root, and Tow) and a Terrain Mode Selector with Hill-Descent Control, which automatically sets a speed as you go down hills .

While the Pathfinder didn’t trap us on a short off-road course set up by Nissan, we wouldn’t routinely recommend this kind of driving. The sound of a tree stump scraping the underside of the car had us concerned about the lack of underbody protection, and the lack of a mechanical four-wheel drive system with low range is a major limiting factor. Still, the Pathfinder should be able to tackle dirt roads and snow without breaking a sweat.

The third row seats of the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder.

gas mileage and safety

fuel economy rating Nissan Pathfinder trim levels for most of 2022 are 23 mpg combined (21 mpg city, 27 mpg highway) with all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive models lose 1 mpg in the highway category, while the Platinum all-wheel drive model is rated at 22 mpg combined (20 mpg city, 25 mpg highway).

Nissan offers a three-year, 36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty. This is fairly typical of this market segment, although the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride twins receive a five-year, 60,000 mile limited warranty and a 10-year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty.

Crash-test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Highway Safety Insurance Institute (IIHS) are not yet available. This is not uncommon for redesigned vehicles.

How would DT configure this car

The top Pathfinder Platinum trim level is a big step up from the base Pathfinder S in price, but it also includes the most technology, so that’s what we got. The Platinum gets tech features from lower trim levels including a 10.8-inch heads-up display, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and wireless phone charging as standard equipment, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and ProPilot Assist.

Like all Pathfinder trim levels, the Platinum comes standard with front-wheel drive, but we’ll add all-wheel drive…

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