Nissan has aspiring plans to introduce 10 new or redesigned models in the next 20 months. One of those vehicles is the revamped mid-size three-row Pathfinder SUV. Introduced in 1986 as a 1987 model, it’s one of Nissan’s most recognizable nameplates. More than 186,000 Pathfinders have been sold in Canada since it launched more than three decades ago. But in that time period, the Pathfinder hasn’t changed much. In fact, it has only had four major overhauls. Nissan is now making up for lost time with its fifth-generation Pathfinder. For 2022, it’s completely redone, adding more safety, technology and connectivity features than ever before.
The Pathfinder is big, boxy, brawny, and slightly larger than the 2020 version – there is no 2021 model. Compared to its predecessor, it’s 15.2 mm wider and 7 mm taller, but 21.7 mm shorter. On the outside, it looks rugged with design details that hark back to the original 1987 Pathfinder – styling cues such as a diagonally-slanted C-pillar, bold fender blisters, and a functional three-slot front grille.
Inside, it’s a family-friendly vehicle with seating for up to eight passengers. Up to five car seats or booster seats can even fit inside – three in the middle row and two in the last row. The second-row seats come with a bench row or the better option, two large comfy captain’s chairs, which are even nicer than the front-row seats. There’s a centre console in between the chairs that can be removed easily – no tools are needed. And the third row can now fit three people. Granted, those seats are best suited for children. Adults might feel claustrophobic riding in the last row. At least, the headroom is excellent and the hip space has increased by 120 mm in the third row. A new one-touch system, dubbed “EZ Flex® Latch and Glide,” makes it easier to access the third-row seats, too. Push a button on the bottom of the second row seat and it automatically lifts and pushes the captain’s chair forward, even if there’s a car-seat in place. Another button on the back of the second-row seat does the same feat allowing third-row passengers to push the seat forward without having to wait anxiously for someone else to do it. Raising and dropping the third row seats is a manual task – there are no power buttons. But it’s easy to do – lift the clasp at the top of the seat to lower and pull a tab at the rear to raise the seats upright. They’re light and easy to manoeuvre.
The cabin is thoughtful and intuitive. There are nearly three times as many storage compartments as the last generation. Smart storage includes a spot under the new electric gear shifter, a storage shelf above glove box, and a hidden trunk inside the cargo area with 54 litres of space that’s perfect for storing dirty shoes or camping gear. It’s not drainable, but it’s easy to clean out with a damp cloth. There are also 16 beverage holders throughout the cabin, a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to seven passengers and six USB keys onboard.
The engine is a carryover – it’s a 3.5-litre V6, which produces 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque. Mated to the engine is an all-new nine-speed automatic transmission – a welcome addition that replaces the outgoing continuously variable transmission, or CVT, which wasn’t my favourite. The new tranny is responsive and smooth. And the fuel economy has improved, too, thanks to the transmission and features like an auto start/stop function, which kills the engine when stopped to save fuel. The improvement is minimal – only two per cent, but it’s a step in the right direction. The fuel economy is rated at 10.5L/100 kms combined highway and city driving; I averaged 12.3L/100 kms driving nearly 200 kms north of Kingston, Ont. Part of the drive was on rough, rugged backroads – the perfect backdrop to test the new 4WD system and the new terrain mode system, which has seven settings: standard, sport, eco, snow, sand, mud/rut and tow. It’s easy to engage – turn a dial in the centre console and it automatically adjusts many driving characteristics including the throttle response. It worked beautifully on the gravel roads and climbing a few muddy hills. The Pathfinder always remained powerful and stable. Even going down hills, the descent control system kicked in to maintain a slow speed, applying the brakes as needed to remain sure-footed and steady.
On winding country roads and at highway cruising speeds, the ride is smooth, composed, and not as choppy as the last generation. It’s an impressively quiet ride with little engine, wind or road noise inside the cabin thanks to new features like thicker second-row glass, improved door and floor isolation, front row acoustic laminated glass, and stronger dash, hood and engine cover insulators.
The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder comes in four 4WD trims, ranging in price from $43,798 to $54,398. It goes on sale this summer.
2022 Nissan Pathfinder
Base price: $43,798 (plus $1,860 freight and PDI)
Engine: 3.5-litre V6 engine with 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque
Transmission/Drive: 9-speed automatic, 4WD
Fuel economy (litres/100 km city and highway): 11.6 and 9.2 (10.5 combined)
Alternatives: Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Paliside, Kia Telluride, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, Subaru Ascent
Retains a traditional SUV design with some stylistic cues that hark back to its past and the original 1987 Pathfinder. Its rugged past blends nicely with modern design touches such as aesthetic chrome side running boards, a new rear bumper protector, and 11 colours including three new cool shades – deep ocean blue pearl, boulder grey, and my tester’s stunning obsidian green pearl colour.
Spacious interior for up to eight passengers. The front-row seats have an extra 50 mm of legroom compared to the last version. There are traditional rotary dials for the volume and climate control system as well as the new seven mode terrain system. Also new are a 9-inch touchscreen, a 12.3-inch digital dashboard, and a 10.8-inch head-up display on upper level models. Apple CarPlay is wireless; Android Auto is not. Ventilated and heated front seats are easy to find and engage with the push of a button.
The 3.5L V6 engine is mated to a new 9-speed automatic – a big improvement over the outgoing continuously variable transmission, or CVT. Overall, it’s a smooth, pleasant, and impressively quiet ride. Excellent handling on rough, rugged roads, too. It can also tow up to 6,000 lbs. – more than many of its competitors. For 2022, a trailer sway control system is also standard.
Loaded with safety technology including Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 Plus, which includes intelligent forward collision warning, intelligent automatic headlights, and blind spot intervention, as standard features. There’s also Nissan’s ProPilot Assist, which combines intelligent cruise control to maintain a safe gap to the preceding vehicle, and steering assist to help the driver stay centred in the lane.
With the second and third-row seats upright, there’s 470 litres of cargo space. Drop both rows and there’s 2,279 litres of cargo space. A four-foot wide sheet of plywood can fit inside the cargo area because the sides are flush. Accessing the cargo is easy by kicking under the bumper, using the key fob, or pushing a button inside the vehicle.
A practical and rugged three-rowed SUV that’s perfect for a large family to run daily errands or go on a weekend camping trip.