Mountain Wheels: Nissan morphs its long-running Pathfinder into the future |

Mountain Wheels: Nissan morphs its long-running Pathfinder into the future

While overall dimensions remain unchanged, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder looks bigger but rides better, thanks to suspension and steering improvements.
Andy Stonehouse/Courtesy photo

Just as my recent drive in the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee revealed a series of positive incremental changes, another longtime fixture of the SUV scene has also received a serious makeover — with largely positive results.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder has evolved into what feels like a perceptibly larger, three-row, up-to-eight-passenger, all-weather machine, but that’s the result of a futuristically smoothed, boxier design and no real changes to the vehicle’s dimensions.

Maybe it’s the floating roof effect, with blackened glass, roof rails and dark window frames. Or maybe it’s those pronounced running boards at the bottom of the doors or broad wheel arches. Or even the sizable 20-inch wheels I had on both a preproduction model, followed by a week in the Platinum four-wheel drive edition, each priced at $48,090 (or $51,395 with two-tone paint, the aforementioned running boards and a lighting package).

Whatever the case, it doesn’t feel or drive like it’s some Armada-sized beast, which is a relief. You can certainly load a whole family into the back — or just provide some very ample second-row seating, as that row slides a lot if you don’t need kid-sized room in the third row — and the reconfigured interior space has gained 10 cubic feet. Entry height is also comfortably car-like, not truck-awkward.

On the road, it’s not ponderous, overly weighty (4,625 pounds) or clumsy (except, perhaps, when outfitted with the lightest-duty all-season tires possible and driven around in Glenwood Springs after 60 inches of snow). The improved stiffness is sometimes evident on bonky pavement sections, part of a series of drivetrain and suspension improvements that make it responsive and not as vague as the bigger options. And the 284-horsepower 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine allowed me to easily speed past enraged Tacoma drivers on the way up to the tunnel. It’s also reasonably efficient, getting the 25 highway mpg suggested by the EPA, and capable of towing up to 6,000 pounds.

Like the new Nissan Frontier — or very, very much like the new Infiniti QX60 — Pathfinder gains a lot of interesting interior design features and a 12-inch digital dashboard. It’s also available with Nissan’s comprehensive ProPilot Assist and front, rear, side, blind-spot and lane-safety features. Those like me who don’t appreciate lane-keeping jolts can simply opt for a lighter-impact wheel-buzzing feature; if you have to drive all the way to Chicago in the summer, the other assist features will be ideal for light-autonomous freeway trips.

The wide, flat dash and a very bright head-up display offer good on-the-road visibility. There’s a gloss-black central console with a relatively low-profile AV and navigation screen, discrete air vents and some useful hard control buttons beneath. There’s a forward-tilted phone charging pad, Korean-styled open cup holders and one very curious back-and-forth sliding shift control (tap it too much and you’ll end up in manual shifting mode). There’s also a seven-step drive and terrain mode selector, the snow setting of which completely negates all acceleration. You also get a flat-bottomed race wheel and an open storage area under the console.

In the back of the cabin, four ceiling-mounted air vents are a nice touch, with full rear-cabin HVAC controls and manual shades for the rear doors. As mentioned, there’s a lot of slide to those seats, which also do the jump-and-eject dance to allow access to the diminutive third row. Captain’s chairs and a removable second-row console box are also another build option.

If you’d like to block out the world of irritated drivers behind you, the tall, rectangular headrests certainly do the job; those can be dropped, as can the seats themselves, revealing 79.8 cubic feet of up to 33-inch-high storage behind the first row. There’s also a gigantic, 54-liter storage tub under the cargo deck.

Andy Stonehouse

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.