Competes with: Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Traverse, Mazda CX-9
Looks like: A slightly more squared-off version of the old Pathfinder
Drivetrain: 284-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6; continuously variable automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive
Hits dealers: September 2016
CARS.COM — Nissan refreshed its Pathfinder SUV for 2017, tweaking its exterior styling, sharpening its interior appointments and updating its powertrain in order to renew some interest in the brand’s seven-passenger family hauler.
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A lightly revised front and rear end give the Pathfinder a more angular look; the new model wears Nissan’s signature “V-Motion” grille and boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights. If you want LED headlights, they come standard on the Platinum trim level.
The bumpers, fog lights, mirrors, taillights and wheels are all new for 2017, and Nissan says they’ve paid off in aerodynamic drag improvements. The overall look, however, isn’t really much different than the current Pathfinder. As styling goes, this is a minor change.
It’s a similar story inside; the cabin looks similar to the outgoing model’s. Nissan focused instead on the Pathfinder’s connectivity and convenience features. There’s a new center console between the front-seat passengers, featuring larger cupholders, an extra USB port and an illuminated storage area. A new driver information display is nestled between the speedometer and tachometer, displaying additional information and entertainment options for the driver.
Seven-passenger seating remains standard, and the second row retains its sliding ability as well. The second and third rows still fold to create a flat load floor, opening up a lot of space for cargo.
Under the Hood
The powertrain gets a more thorough reworking, even though it keeps the outgoing model’s familiar 3.5-liter V-6 and continuously variable automatic transmission setup. Nissan says more than half the components of the engine are new or new to the Pathfinder, including a gasoline direct injection system that combined with the other components has boosted power from 260 horsepower to 284 hp. Torque is up too, from 240 pounds-feet to a more robust 259 pounds-feet.
Despite the power bump, Nissan says the fuel economy hasn’t changed — it remains an EPA estimated 20/27/23 mpg city/highway/combined for the front-wheel drive models. Compared with other V-6-equipped competitors, that’s pretty good. The Ford Explorer with its 3.5-liter V-6 gets 17/24/20 mpg, while the Chevrolet Traverse manages only 15/22/18 mpg.
The transmission is an updated third-generation version of the Xtronic CVT that Nissan says is similar to the one used in the Maxima sedan. It will feature the same kind of control logic that creates a stepped shifting feel to better simulate the traditional automatic transmissions that consumers are used to. Nissan says the newfound engine performance also boosts the Pathfinder’s towing capacity to a best-in-class 6,000 pounds when properly equipped.
The suspension has gotten some love as well; a significant retune to shocks, springs and struts should mean better body control. The electric power steering system also has been revised with a quicker ratio that should make for a more responsive driving experience.
As before, the Pathfinder features automatic cruise control with autonomous emergency braking, as well as blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. For 2017, Nissan added moving object detection to the class-exclusive around-view camera monitor, which provides an overhead 360-degree look around the vehicle on the multimedia screen.
The new Pathfinder will feature four trim levels when it arrives in dealerships in September: S, SV, leather-lined SL and range-topping Platinum.