Test Drive – 2017 Nissan Pathfinder

Test Drive - 2017 Nissan PathfinderEntry Price: $30,290

Price As Tested: $44,725

If you’re in the market for a midsize SUV with three rows of seating, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder should be on your shopping list. Dedicated to driving comfort more so than previous generations, Pathfinder still offers off-road abilities while transporting passengers in a more comfortable manner.

Pathfinder is a four-door, three row, seven-passenger SUV that comes in five models, starting with an entry front wheel drive “S” at $30,290 up to the top line Platinum 4×4, which starts at  $43,560 and just happens to be our tester for the week. A Platinum Midnight Edition 4×4 with black style cues from wheels to spoiler goes for $44,955. (All Pathfinder models are available in either front drive or 4×4).   

This “more comfortable” new generation Pathfinder arrived in 2013 with a major change in chassis design. Specifically, 2012 and previous Pathfinders relied on Nissan’s truck chassis that afforded 8.7-inches of ground clearance. These Pathfinders made for great off-road and towing performers but lacked in the creature comfort and smooth ride category.

Test Drive - 2017 Nissan PathfinderAs consumer demands changed and SUVs became the norm rather than the exception, Nissan revamped Pathfinder’s chassis setup in 2013 and integrated a car-like unibody frame. Although resulting in less ground clearance (now 7.0-inches), the unibody chassis immediately delivered a more comfortable ride and made purchasing a Pathfinder more enticing. The ride is greatly improved and there’s also more interior room to utilize for family and cargo. Towing capacity, meanwhile, drops from 7,000 lb. to a still respectable 6,000 lb., but if you need more tow abilities check out the full size Nissan Armada and its 9,000 lb. tow rating.

All Pathfinders come with the same engine under the hood, which means regardless of model choice you receiving the exact same underpinnings and mechanical attributes. Powered by a fine running 3.5-liter V6 that produces a stout 284-horses and 259 lb. ft. of torque, Pathfinder also delivers excellent fuel mileage at 20 city and 26 highway in two-wheel drive layout or 19 city and 26 highway with the 4×4. An Xtronic CVT overdrive automatic transmission transfers the power, which is noteworthy as the V6 pulls with authority.

Nissan’s intuitive and switchable 4×4 system allows 2WD, Auto and 4WD lock modes. The 2WD is front drive only, while in Auto mode Pathfinder is fully automatic and applies power between the front and rear axles as needed. The 4WD lock is utilized for off-road duty or when weather turns nasty by delivering full-time 4×4 traction.

Test Drive - 2017 Nissan PathfinderInside, the top line Platinum is luxurious and as close to sibling Infiniti in opulence as Nissan allows. The seating is firm yet very comfortable, and the EZ Flex reclining seat feature for both front and second row is an added attribute.

We utilized Pathfinder’s second row Latch and Glide feature that is a slide and tilt feature when we picked up some items at the area home center. The 50-50 fold down third row function also came in handy and allowed more cargo space choices. Also notable is the ease of entry for third row passengers, something that usually isn’t the case on most tri-tier seat SUVs and Crossovers.

Standard equipment on all Pathfinders include air conditioning, 18-inch tires on alloy wheels, keyless entry, cruise, aforementioned 60/40-split second-row Latch and Glide (slides, reclines and folds), tilt-and-telescopic steering and a nice six-speaker stereo with CD player to mention a few features.

When you arrive at the top line Platinum, however, everything imaginable is standard. Included are leather interior, power heated/cooled front seats, eight-inch color display, rearview safety camera, tri-zone climate control, SiriusXM with Traffic and Travel Link, Bluetooth/two USBs/iPod, fog lamps, rear park sensors, roof rack, second row console, heated second row seats, power lift gate, 20-inch machined alloys on Bridgestone Dueler HP Sport tires, tow package, tow hook, sunroof, parking assist camera, heated steering wheel, navigation and a 13-speaker Bose stereo audio system.  

This is a ton of standard equipment, and there’s even more your Nissan dealer is waiting to explain when you visit the showroom. Our tester had just one option, a $225 carpet floor mat package.  

On the safety side, all Pathfinders come with antilock four-wheel disc brakes, stability and traction controls, electric brake force, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic and Nissan’s advanced safety airbag system. Our tester also featured intelligent cruise, forward collision and a host of high tech safety additions.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 114.2 inches, 4,660 lb. curb weight, from 16 to 79.8 cu. ft. of cargo space with seats up/down and a 19.5 regular fuel gas tank.

I recommend first driving one of the entry level Pathfinders, and then move up as your needs dictate. Keep in mind, however, regardless of choice, it’s the same vehicle mechanically and worthy of your consideration. Still, the Platinum edition is well worth the price especially with yearend incentives and discounts now in play.

Likes: Mechanicals, ride, fuel economy, comfort.

Dislikes: Leans a little in hard corners, a little less tow capacity.

(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist).

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