2017 Nissan Pathfinder

Test Drive : 2017 Nissan Pathfinder

The Nissan Pathfinder was getting a little long in the tooth compared to some of its competitors. Redesigned in 2013, it remained virtually unchanged until the 2017 model year.

Short of a complete redesign, Nissan did make some pretty significant tweaks to the seven-passenger crossover that allow it to keep pace with the rest of the pack.

For starters, the Pathfinder gets a revised engine under the hood. It’s a direct injection 3.5-litre V6 – the same size as the engine it replaces – with an upgrade in power. For the 2017 model year, it now offers 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque ( 260 hp, 240 lb-ft of torque previously), all of which gets moved to the wheels through a continuously variable transmission.

The new engine has a fuel economy rating of 12.4 litres per 100 kilometres in the city, and 9.2 L/100 km on the highway. I managed a disappointing average of 15.2 L/100 km.

It had been a while since I drove the previous engine on the Pathfinder, but I found the new one to be smooth and efficient under all conditions.
 It also gets the third generation of the Xtronic continuously variable transmission. Nissan says it uses D-Step Logic Control to mimic gear shifting, which results in a much better experience than the rubber-band feeling of many CVTs.

Thanks to the new engine, towing capacity also gets a boost to reach a maximum of 6,000 pounds (up from 5,000 lbs.), which makes the Pathfinder a class leader according to Nissan. The model is available in either front-wheel drive or the four-wheel drive configuration of our Platinum tester.

The powertrain setup isn’t the only change for the Pathfinder. Exterior styling receives some upgrades, including a new front and rear fascia, a new hood, what Nissan calls a V-motion grille and LED daytime running lights.

The new front looks gives the model more character than the outgoing version and brings it in line with Nissan’s new signature look. There’s also new 20-inch alloy wheels for the Platinum trim.

At the back, the Pathfinder gets a new tail light assembly and a revised bumper. Also new for 2017 is the addition of a motion-activated lift gate, which comes standard on SL, SL Premium Tech and Platinum trims.

The interior also was refreshed, with a new centre console and new metallic and wood finishes in the cabin.

One of the biggest changes was made to the all-important cup holders. They can now accommodate mug handles. I am sure everyone is relieved by this development.

Other than that, there’s little change inside, meaning the centre stack is still the home to numerous dials and buttons that takes some time to understand.

The Pathfinder seats seven in a three-row configuration and even with a child seat in the middle row, that seat moves forward enough to allow for decent access to the third row. That is thanks to what Nissan calls the Latch and Glide system.

Given its stature, the SUV offers a good amount of cargo room when the third row is not in use. With all seats in use, you have 453 L of volume, which goes up to nearly 1,348 L with the back bench folded flat. There’s up to 2,260 L with both rows down.

The infotainment in the Pathfinder was also upgraded for the 2017 model year, with the touchscreen growing to 8 inches. New features include NissanConnectSM navigation system with SiriusXM traffic on a three-month trial basis.

Also free for six months is NissanConnect Services powered by SiriusXM, which provides features like automatic collision notification, emergency call, stolen vehicle locator and more.

The Platinum tester came with the onboard DVD system and the dual screens in the headrests. That is always a favourite feature of the little one, who enjoyed watching his favourite movies while we went on a road trip.

Especially when he gets to listen to it through a 13-speaker Bose sound system. That sound system comes in handy when it comes to drowning out road and wind noise, which can be quite obtrusive at times.

Despite that, driving the Pathfinder is far from unpleasant. The more powerful engine and CVT work well together, and steering response has been improved for 2017.

The shocks, front and rear, have been stiffened as well, resulting in a more stable feeling while driving.
And the driving experience is made more aggressive thanks to the increased power from the new engine.
While the tester topped the $50,000 mark, the Pathfinder does offer more affordable trims, starting with the S at $32,498 before freight and other charges.

The midlife refresh Nissan provided the Pathfinder definitely breathes new life into the crossover, making what was already a pretty good vehicle a notch better.

2017 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum 4WD
Price as tested: $50,493
Freight: $1,795
Configuration: front engine/four-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.5-litre V6 / Continuously Variable Transmission
Power/torque: 284 horsepower/ 259 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): Regular (74 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 11 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 15.2 L/100 km
Warranty: 3-years/60,000 km (basic)
Competitors:  Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer, Hyundai Santa Fe, Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot

Related links:
Nissan Canada
Globe and Mail

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