By Paul Strauss
The Nissan Pathfinder has been a solid and popular SUV choice ever since it debuted back in 1985. Over the years, the Pathfinder has bounced between being a rugged body-on-frame vehicle to a more comfortable, unibody daily driver and back. But for the last decade, its identity has remained firmly in the realm of soft and cozy family SUVs. For the 2022 model year, we’ve got the best-looking and most well-equipped Pathfinder yet, with a decidedly more muscular look.
The new Pathfinder has adopted a more upright and angular design than its predecessor, giving it a bolder and more sophisticated look. Under the leadership of Nissan Senior Design Director Ken Lee, the Pathfinder is blazing a new path for the SUV that should broaden its appeal, moving away from its long-running grocery-getter looks to something with more substance and style. In front, it incorporates Nissan’s trademark “V-Motion” grille, but in a boxier and more upright look than other applications that make it even more appealing. From the side, you might even mistake the new Pathfinder for a Land Rover Discovery, another premium SUV I like very much.
In the back, you get slim LED taillight clusters connected by a horizontal bar and a new Nissan logo, grounded by letter-spaced “P A T H F I N D E R” badging, a typographic convention that’s gaining popularity in a number of vehicles these days. The boxy new design makes the whole thing appear wider than before despite being only 0.6″ wider than the 2021 Pathfinder.
Under the hood, you’ll find the same 3.5-liter VQ35DD V6 engine that’s been in the Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60 since 2017. With 284 horsepower on tap, it’s not the most soul-stirring power plant, but it’s definitely more engaging to drive with the new 9-speed automatic in place of the outgoing Pathfinder’s CVT. Fuel economy isn’t bad for something that can hold seven passengers, offering 20 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and a combined 22 mpg. 2WD and lower trim levels improve mileage by 1 to 2 mpg. Overall ride quality is excellent, with refinements to the SUV’s suspension mounts, shocks, and dampers, along with a stiffer overall chassis than before. The 4WD model I drove offered confident handling in the rain, and a 7-mode drive and terrain mode switch adjusts traction, steering, and throttle mapping for various road surfaces and conditions.
Combined with a new electric power steering system, it offers a very car-like ride for a 3-row SUV, and I was impressed with the Pathfinder’s minimal body roll when cornering. It’s also impressively quiet in the cabin, which offers an especially upscale feel in the Platinum model that I drove. There’s genuine leather not just on the seating surfaces but on the doors, dash, and center console. A large panoramic sunroof brings in lots of light, making its already tall cabin feel even more spacious. Storage space is very good too, with plenty of cupholders, a good size storage tray in the armrest, and a large area beneath the floating center console that’s big enough for all but the largest purses.
Like other recent Nissan vehicles, the seats are comfy and supportive for long road trips; they look especially good with the quilted semi-aniline leather shown here, which appears on both the first and second-row seats. The front row also gets heating and cooling. The second-row captain’s chairs offer plenty of space for adults, though the third-row bench seating is best reserved for kids due to its limited legroom and foot space.
With both rows folded, cargo space is exceptional, holding items up to 79.8″ long and 33.3″ high. Overall cargo capacity is an impressive 80.5 cubic feet, decreasing to a still respectable 45 cubic feet with the second row in use, and a more trunk-like 16.6 cubic feet if you’ve got kids in the third row.
Nissan packs the 2022 Pathfinder with technology, with one of the more notable features being Pro Pilot Assist, which combines radar-based intelligent cruise control with lane centering. The result is one of the more compelling highway driving modes I’ve experienced, maintaining the Pathfinder’s speed and lane position in a way that feels natural and doesn’t fight the driver. The lane centering doesn’t suffer from the “ping-pong” effect that some systems do and requires just the slightest touch on the steering wheel to ensure that you’re paying attention. I also noticed that the GPS-enhanced cruise control was smart enough to slow itself down on curved sections of the road, even if another car wasn’t in front of me.
Other convenience features include Android Auto, Wireless Apple CarPlay, a 12″ digital instrument panel, Qi-compatible wireless charging, three-zone climate control, a heads-up display, auto brake hold, and a surround-view camera system accompanied by front and rear parking sensors. On the safety front, every Pathfinder gets blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking with both pedestrian and cyclist detection, rear automatic braking, and forward-collision warning. Blind-spot intervention, traffic sign recognition, and intelligent lane intervention come on SV and higher trim levels.
While the Pathfinder has always been a dependable and popular SUV, it’s dramatically more appealing and premium in appearance and materials in its latest incarnation. If you’re shopping for a 3-row family SUV, the new Pathfinder absolutely belongs on every test-drive list.
Source:: 95 Octane