Tested: 2022 Nissan Pathfinder Gets Much More Appealing
BY JOEY CAPPARELLA | CarAndDriver.Com
Troy Warren #carnews-all
With attractive proportions, an improved and larger interior, and no more CVT, Nissan’s three-row SUV is now an above-average player in its segment.
Today’s three-row family haulers can either be viewed as minivans in SUV cosplay or the other way around, but the outgoing Nissan Pathfinder was the worst of both worlds. Its awkward proportions made it look just about as unappealing as a van, but its small third-row seat typified the compromised accommodations of mid-size SUVs. The new fifth-generation 2022 Pathfinder rectifies these flaws and is a far more appealing option in this segment—even if it doesn’t quite reach the heights of our favorite, the 10Best-winning Kia Telluride.
Longer, wider, and taller than before but riding on the same wheelbase, the new Pathfinder looks truckier, with a blunt front end and a boxy greenhouse. We like the proportions, which remind us of the Land Rover Discovery, and interior space is improved, too. The third row is more habitable for adults, and there’s now a middle seating position that brings total seating capacity to eight in a pinch. A second-row bench is standard, and second-row captain’s chairs are optional. The second-row seats easily slide and flip forward to allow access to the third row, and Nissan touts their ability to do so even with a child seat installed. (Just don’t try it with the little one still seated.)
HIGHS: Nicer and roomier interior, attractive exterior design, no more CVT.
Another significant improvement is the Pathfinder’s nine-speed automatic transmission, which replaces the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) in the old model. While the 284-hp 3.5-liter V-6 engine hasn’t changed at all, this new transmission livens up the Pathfinder’s responses considerably and eliminates the annoying droning that was so present with the CVT. At the test track, a 2022 Pathfinder SL with front-wheel drive got to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, a 0.6-second improvement over a heavier 2017 Pathfinder Platinum with all-wheel drive. That result and its quarter-mile time of 15.3 seconds put it ahead of class leaders such as the Telluride and Hyundai Palisade, and we think the AWD model could be even quicker due to the abundance of wheelspin we experienced when testing the front-drive version.
Nissan increased the Pathfinder’s tire width from 235 millimeters to 255 and stiffened the spring rates to improve handling. Indeed, the new model gripped better than its predecessor on our skidpad—0.80 g versus 0.77 g—but the Pathfinder still trails the nimbler offerings in this class such as the Mazda CX-9 in terms of on-road driving satisfaction. The steering is numb and overboosted, and the ride is bouncy with a light load. (It improves when weighed down with more people or stuff onboard.) We were impressed with the effect of the extra sound deadening and thicker glass that Nissan added, as the cabin is nicely hushed on the highway.
LOWS: So-so value proposition, overly stiff ride, numb steering.
As with the Pathfinder’s smaller Rogue sibling, the interior materials are a big upgrade as well. There are many soft touch points on the dashboard, the optional leather upholstery is plush, and the front seats are comfortable and supportive. We also appreciate the large volume and tuning knobs flanking the touchscreen infotainment display, and the clearly marked climate-control knobs lower down on the center stack. The Telluride’s cabin design still looks more upscale, but the Pathfinder is nicer inside than the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander by a wide margin.
The Pathfinder starts at $34,560, an increase of $1430 over the previous generation. Our well-equipped Pathfinder SL test car was equipped with optional extras, including a panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, Nissan’s ProPilot driver-assistance system, and USB charging ports in all rows. It stickered for $45,795, and all-wheel drive would’ve added another $1900 to that total, which means the Pathfinder is appropriately priced but not necessarily a better value than its closest rivals. A fully loaded front-wheel-drive Telluride SX is only $44,805, and we prefer its styling, refinement, and interior to the Pathfinder’s.
Even still, the new Pathfinder is a far more competitive SUV than its predecessor. We think it’s now an above-average three-row crossover, and its new look inside and out go a long way toward increasing its overall appeal. Roomier, quicker, and better-equipped than before, the Pathfinder is yet another step up for Nissan in an important segment of the market, and we think it will easily find more success than the lackluster model it replaces.
2022 Nissan Pathfinder
Vehicle Type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Tested: $34,560/$45,795
Options: SL trim, $6180, SL premium package (panoramic moonroof, 20-inch wheels, towing package, second-row heated captain’s chairs), $2900
DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 213 in3, 3498 cm3
Power: 284 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 259 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 13.8-in vented disc/13.0-in vented disc
Tires: Hankook Dynapro HP2
255/50R-20 105H M+S
Wheelbase: 114.2 in
Length: 197.7 in
Width: 77.9 in
Height: 70.7 in
Passenger Volume: 145 ft3
Cargo Volume: 17 ft3
Curb Weight: 4481 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 6.7 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.3 sec @ 94 mph
100 mph: 17.7 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 7.1 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.5 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.8 sec
Top Speed (gov ltd): 119 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 179 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.80 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 21 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 23/21/26 mpg