What it is: The Pathfinder is Nissan’s four-door crossover that received a significant refresh for the 2017 model year. This generation was launched as a 2013 model originally and moved to a crossover from an SUV. The Pathfinder was launched more than 30 years ago and was built on a truck frame, but now it shares the same platform as the Murano, Quest and QX60. The benefit is a car-like driving experience that provides smoothness and better gas mileage at the expense of towing capacity.
For 2017, the Pathfinder gets a significant facelift with a new front fascia, headlights, taillights and a reworked 3.5-liter V6 that produces 284 horsepower and 259 lb.-ft. of torque. While typical Pathfinders are equipped with FWD, my test model had a 4WD system (a very reasonable $1,690 upgrade). The Platinum trim does command a $11,780 premium over the base model trim “S,” but does provide for a bevy of extra niceties. Leather seats, 20-inch aluminum wheels, LED low-beam headlights, Intelligent Cruise Control, an emergency braking system, motion activated liftgate, remote start, keyless entry and ignition, Bose 13-speaker stereo system, Nissan’s Around View system, which gives you a live 360 degree video around your car and more. That’s a lot of features.
The only real package you can add to the Platinum trim is the $1,700 Family Entertainment Package that adds 8” monitors in the headrest that can each display independent programming with wireless headphones while the front seat passengers listen to music.
The driving experience is certainly aimed at the suburban parent. Feedback is minimized in every way and the steering wheel, while very easy to turn, doesn’t convey any driving excitement. To be clear, there is nothing sloppy about it, it’s just… dead. The Pathfinder is fairly heavy, and it feels that way when you turn. Its competitor, the Mazda CX-9, is almost the polar opposite, but represents a 25 percent decrease in cargo area, so it’s certainly a balance.
The interior looks refined, but I started to notice all of the plastic by the end of my week behind the wheel. I just think they could have done a little better for the hefty price tag they are charging, especially for the Platinum trim.
MPG: 21 combined/19 city/26 highway
Price: $30,290 for base FWD S. $43,760 for Platinum 4WD. $44,685 as-tested with destination.
Upsides: Revised front end looks great.
Downsides: I don’t think it’s the best at anything in its class.
Wrap-up: Even with cheap gas, auto manufacturers are headed in the right direction with the three-row class of crossovers. Fuel economies are vastly improved over SUVs, and they provide the qualities that 80 percent of buyers need. The only reason to choose a real SUV over a large crossover is the towing capacity. It is hard for me to recommend the Pathfinder because cars that have no “soul” tend to annoy me. I need to feel something when I’m behind the wheel of a car, not just get from place A to B, so this is not the Path for me.
Before you go …
… we’ve got a small favor to ask. More people are reading The Tribune than ever. Advertising revenues across the media spectrum are falling fast. And unlike many news organizations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Tribune's independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too. If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure. Support the only locally owned, locally produced news product in the Lake Houston area. And thank you!