Kutztown, Pennsylvania is roughly three hours from our D.C. ‘burb, and a month out from Thanksgiving we’re not sure if we’ll have five adults and a toddler or just three adults and a toddler. In reserving a press car we’d rather have more room and not need it…than less room and the very real need to take a second car. A call goes out for Nissan’s all-new Armada, but the call does about as much good as wearing a Bernie hat on November 8th. That ship (the Armada…and Bernie) has sailed, but Nissan’s fleet management team can supply a 3-row Pathfinder. With the Pathfinder’s recent refresh there should be something we can say, so we say yes.
If you’ve been paying attention, Nissan’s Pathfinder has gone through more changes of identity than Leo DiCaprio’s Frank Abagnale. At its introduction roughly thirty years ago, the truck-based, body-on-frame Pathfinder could have very easily evolved into something driven by The Revenant’s Hugh Glass; if, of course, Hugh had been able to google ‘SUV’ in the early 19th century. Later, the Pathfinder went unit body, than back to body-on-frame and, most recently, another unibody.
With this iteration, especially in the Platinum trim level we tested, think Leo as Jay Gatsby – this is one deluxe, superfine variation of the genre, hard-loaded with everything you need for an on-road adventure with up to six of your closest family or friends. And with significant updating for 2017, the Pathfinder moves one step closer to ubiquitous, a descriptive shared by Nissan’s Altima, Sentra and Frontier.
Unless you majored in Pathfinder fascia, it’ll take a keen eye to identify the exterior changes to Nissan’s big crossover in transitioning from 2016 to 2017. What Nissan execs describe as a bold new front end is certainly new, but no one will confuse it with the Titan pickup. Beyond the V-Motion grille is a more aggressive hood, front bumper and (aggressive?) fog lights. At the back, look for new taillights and a stronger bumper design, although we’re unsure if it’s physically stronger or simply visually stronger.
Inside, as techies around the world would hope, the emphasis is on new-generation information technology. Never mind that the millennials whom this tech targets will no sooner buy a $50K crossover than I’ll buy a $100K Cayman S; it – the tech – is here and (we’re told) it’s hot. Advanced Drive-Assist Display (ADAD) features additional infotainment and driver assistance displays, while voice recognition is enhanced with a new HD microphone. And don’t forget NissanConnect Services powered by SiriusXM, providing automatic collision notification (didn’t try it…), emergency call and stolen vehicle locator (nope) and customizable alerts. All of this comes standard on the Platinum grade – as you’d hope.
Beyond the tech is, of course, the comfort, offering the benefits of a midsize crossover with the comfort of a larger SUV. Behind the wheel we perceived this as a full-size SUV, as the Pathfinder simply feels big. To its credit the 3.5 liter V6, offering 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque, accelerates and pulls with authority, while the Pathfinder’s CVT (continuously variable transmission) exhibits few of the annoying characteristics normally associated with the CVT. Acceleration is brisk, and cruising at highway speeds is invariably relaxed. We didn’t have a chance to experience its all-wheel drive, but were reassured – going into Penn State – by its presence.
Second-row passengers will enjoy adjustable legroom (not that you’d want less) and backrests, both of which assist in the comfort of both the second and third-row passengers. In having driven Mazda’s new CX-9 just a month ago, we found the third row of the Pathfinder more generous than that of the Mazda, while both are hard-pressed to carry seven people and their gear without utilizing a roof rack or trailer. It’s an interesting comparison and, if torn between the two or – for that matter – Toyota’s Highlander or Honda’s Pilot, a prospective buyer would benefit from real seat time as opposed to checking specs or, for that matter, reading reviews.
On the road, the Pathfinder is reasonably composed and, as alluded to earlier, feels very substantial. As empty nesters we’d rather rent a 3-row than own a 3-row, and if we were in regular need of this much seating capacity might very well go buy a minivan, instead. (Nissan still build the Quest – altho no one knows that but Nissan…) But for those unable to even say ‘minivan’ – and would never consider purchasing one – the Pathfinder has a lot going for it.
When shopping for our SUV we prefer Hugh Glass to Jay Gatsby, but then, that’s just us’ns. Over the river? The new Pathfinder will work just great. Through the woods? Wait ‘til you can locate an Armada.
Check out Jim Nelson’s look at the 2017 Nissan Armada »
Also, Jesus Garcia’s TruckRodeo Drive w/the 2017 2017 Armada »
Also, check out Adam Moore’s review of the 2017 GMC Acadia »
Check out more News and Reviews on Nissan vehicles »