2017 Nissan Pathfinder Review


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2017 Nissan Pathfinder Overview

Those who don’t want to be caught red-handed driving a minivan might want to check out the comprehensively reworked 2017 Nissan Pathfinder midsize crossover. Offering unibody construction, 5 doors, 3 rows of seating for 7 passengers, and optional 4-wheel drive (4WD), the refreshed Pathfinder is still not particularly sporty, nor is it designed to travel far from the beaten path. But for commuters or families who need a little extra room, it might be just the right fit when it goes on sale this fall.

Responding to charges that the Pathfinder is beginning to fray at the edges, Nissan has announced a number of changes for the model's 2017 lineup. On the outside, look for a new “V-Motion" grille, restyled boomerang headlights, LED daytime running lights, and new front and rear bumpers. Reworked front fog/driving lights and up-styled taillights also debut, along with upgraded 18- and 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels. A new Motion Activated tailgate opens with a wave of the foot.

A more user-friendly cabin atmosphere and enhanced connectivity features with next-generation infotainment technology are also expected to gain the 2017 Pathfinder some new customers. These updates include an Advanced Driver-Assist Display (ADAD), located in the middle of the instrument cluster and displaying information like vehicle health reports and dealer service reminders. Additionally, the standard 8.0-inch infotainment monitor topping the center stack now features additional intuitive controls for various systems, as well as enhanced voice recognition with the available NissanConnect SM navigation system.

For 2017, Nissan has thrown some hefty tweaks into the Pathfinder’s 3.5-liter V6 engine. With a 56%-new component makeup, including a reworked combustion chamber, new pistons, and a new intake manifold and e-VCT, the upgraded V6 now puts out 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. That’s 24 more hp and 19 more lb-ft or torque than the current engine produces. This up-powered mill is managed by a continuously variable transmission (CVT) sporting a unique D-Step system that allows it to feel like a regular multi-speed shifter by going through the gears in distinct steps. There’s also less engine revving than with the usual CVT, and shifts are administered in smaller increments for added gas mileage. Max towing capacity is also boosted to 6,000 pounds with the proper equipment, a 1,000-pound increase over 2016.

EPA-estimated mileage is still listed at the current 20 mpg city/27 highway/23 combined in FWD Pathfinder versions and 19/26/22 in 4WD editions with the new powerplant, but that’s because the EPA is currently in the process of changing its estimating criteria. Nissan claims that fuel efficiency for the 2017 model will be better than current estimates show.

All Pathfinders are delivered with standard front-wheel drive (FWD), while the available 4WD system is, in reality, a selectable part-time all-wheel-drive configuration. Although there’s no low-range gear, this 4WD configuration does boast descent control and a rear locking differential controlled via Nissan’s All-Mode 4X4i selector; this selector features 2WD and 4WD modes and includes an Auto feature to automatically allow 4WD when needed via a Lock mode that locks the rear differential. When encountering heavy snow or mud conditions, dial in 4WD and Lock, and power is split 50-50 between the front and rear wheels to get you merrily on your way. As noted above, this system is not designed for any serious off-road travel.

Stiffer front and rear shock absorbers and 25% more spring in the rear rebound springs will help control body motion and ride comfort, while an 11%-quicker steering ratio (the result of a new valve design for the hydraulic-electric power steering system) will help this midsize crossover negotiate corners a bit more smoothly.

The 2017 Pathfinder brings a number of interior upgrades, including enhanced cloth upholstery in lower trims. The SV and Platinum will sport a realistic faux-woodgrain dashboard and door paneling, though the aluminum-like finish on the lower trims still looks like plastic. Expect the upgraded cabin to again offer a bit more leg- and headroom than you'd find in most rivals, while the complex Latch and Glide sliding and folding second-row seats allow child safety seats to remain locked in place even when the seatbacks are partially collapsed, for easy access to the third row. Cargo area remains 79.8 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seatbacks folded down.

Options for 2017 include the enhanced NissanConnectSM navigation system, as well as the current year’s tri-zone DVD/Blu-ray entertainment setup, which features a central front monitor and screens mounted behind the front headrests, each rear screen offering separate headphones.

Safety-wise, the Pathfinder carries rear parking sensors standard on all trims except the S, and for 2017 the model adds intelligent cruise control, forward collision-mitigating braking, and blind-spot monitoring, safety technology that had previously been absent. Also new for 2017 are NissanConnect emergency telematics and stolen vehicle alerts, while the available Around View camera system is upgraded with moving-object detection alerts.

Expect the family-oriented Pathfinder to again fare well in crash tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the current version its highest score of 5 stars overall, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awards this the Pathfinder its best rating of Good on all tests, including the small-overlap frontal offset.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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