2017 Nissan Pathfinder

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$30,290–$43,760 MSRP range

Key Specs

of the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder base trim shown

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Powerful V-6 engine
  • Quick-to-respond CVT
  • Airy cabin
  • Second-row comfort
  • Third-row access and headroom
  • Enhanced visibility with available 360-degree camera system

The Bad

  • Groaning noises from drivetrain
  • Firm ride lacks refinement
  • Dated interior design
  • Overly complex multimedia interface
  • Apple CarPlay, Android Auto not offered
  • Automatic emergency braking only on top trim
2017 Nissan Pathfinder exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder

  • Automatic emergency braking now available
  • 6,000-pound maximum towing capacity
  • Styling and drivetrain updates for 2017
  • Seats seven in three rows
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Foot-activated power liftgate available

2017 Nissan Pathfinder Road Test

https://www.cstatic-images.com/stock/64x64/90/img1115632532-1502480398190.jpg
Mike Hanley
The Verdict:

The refreshed 2017 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't do enough to distinguish itself in the competitive three-row SUV class.

Versus The Competition:

The Pathfinder is one of the roomier three-row SUVs available. Its updated V-6 engine is a strong performer, but a dated interior and overly complex controls are sore spots.

The three-row SUV has become the vehicle of choice for large families, and many models in the class have been redesigned or updated in the past few years. For the 2017 model year, the Pathfinder gets styling updates, new features and a new direct-injection V-6 engine that makes more power.

The 2017 Pathfinder starts at $30,930 (including a $940 destination charge) for a front-wheel-drive S trim level. We tested an uplevel, all-wheel-drive SL trim with an as-tested price of $40,390. Key competitors include the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Hyundai Santa Fe. (See their specs compared here.)

Exterior & Styling

The most noticeable styling changes are clustered up front, where the Pathfinder gets new bumper styling, new headlights and a restyled grille that adopts a variation of the design on some Nissan cars, like the Maxima. While the design is more intricate and detailed than what was there previously, it's also similar enough to the prior Pathfinder's look that the changes could easily go unnoticed by casual observers. In back, the biggest change is a switch to taillights with mostly red housings.

How It Drives

The Pathfinder is the rare three-row SUV with a continuously variable automatic transmission instead of a step-gear automatic. The CVT uses a belt-and-pulley system in place of conventional gears and doesn't produce the familiar feel that accompanies the upshifts and downshifts of an automatic.

The transmission is programmed to mimic the fe...

The three-row SUV has become the vehicle of choice for large families, and many models in the class have been redesigned or updated in the past few years. For the 2017 model year, the Pathfinder gets styling updates, new features and a new direct-injection V-6 engine that makes more power.

The 2017 Pathfinder starts at $30,930 (including a $940 destination charge) for a front-wheel-drive S trim level. We tested an uplevel, all-wheel-drive SL trim with an as-tested price of $40,390. Key competitors include the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Hyundai Santa Fe. (See their specs compared here.)

Exterior & Styling

The most noticeable styling changes are clustered up front, where the Pathfinder gets new bumper styling, new headlights and a restyled grille that adopts a variation of the design on some Nissan cars, like the Maxima. While the design is more intricate and detailed than what was there previously, it's also similar enough to the prior Pathfinder's look that the changes could easily go unnoticed by casual observers. In back, the biggest change is a switch to taillights with mostly red housings.

How It Drives

The Pathfinder is the rare three-row SUV with a continuously variable automatic transmission instead of a step-gear automatic. The CVT uses a belt-and-pulley system in place of conventional gears and doesn't produce the familiar feel that accompanies the upshifts and downshifts of an automatic.

The transmission is programmed to mimic the feel of gear changes, but the steady engine noise when accelerating is a little different at first. The Pathfinder's 284-horsepower V-6 minimizes the differences more than four-cylinder engines typically do; acceleration is swift and the CVT quickly responds when passing and merging. Still, other editors didn't like the groaning sounds from the drivetrain and thought the V-6 would perform even better with a conventional automatic.

The Pathfinder driving experience falls behind its three-row competitors in other ways: Its firm-riding suspension lacks the refinement of the Kia Sorento, GMC Acadia and Dodge Durango and doesn't provide the sportiness of the Mazda CX-9.

Front-wheel-drive Pathfinders get an EPA-estimated 20/27/23 mpg city/highway/combined; all-wheel drive knocks 1 mpg from each of those estimates, and the Platinum AWD model gets 21 mpg in combined driving. We averaged 20.5 mpg over the course of 170 miles on a mix of city streets, country roads and highways, which was a little below the Pathfinder's combined mpg estimate.

Interior

Like the Honda Pilot, the Pathfinder's cabin is among the more open and airy ones in the class. There's good headroom for adults in all three rows of seats (a rarity in the class) and our Pathfinder's lack of a moonroof added an inch or so of extra headroom in each of its three rows of seats.

Even though we tested an uplevel SL, its interior design failed to impress. Editors thought the cabin looked dated and despite some higher-grade finishes, like cream-colored leather upholstery, many surfaces and materials — like the painted plastic on the dashboard — are too low-rent for a $40,000-plus SUV.

The seats are noticeably cushier than what you'll find in other three-row SUVs; wide front-seat cushions and a relative lack of side bolstering enhance the easy-chair feel. The cushions of the 60/40-split second-row bench seat are similarly soft, and the seat slides forward and backward and reclines. It's very comfortable.

The second-row bench incorporates a unique walk-in feature for easier third-row access. Lifting a lever slides the seat forward and also flips up the seat cushion against the backrest. This collapsed position lets the seat move closer to the back of the front seats, leaving a wider opening to get in and out of the third row.

Ergonomics & Electronics

After you experience the Pathfinder's multimedia system, you get the feeling Nissan couldn't decide how the driver should use it. There are many ways to accomplish various tasks, and the result is an unwieldy arrangement of buttons and knobs in the middle of the dashboard. Simpler layouts with fewer buttons, like the Kia Sorento's touchscreen interface, are easier to use.

Standard features include an 8-inch touchscreen, a CD player, a USB port, satellite radio with three years of the SiriusXM Travel Link service, and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and streaming audio. (Travel Link provides real-time sports scores, movie times, gas prices and weather updates, among other information.) Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, which can mirror select phone apps on a car's dashboard screen for easier, safer use, are not offered.

Cargo & Storage

With all three rows of seats in place, the Pathfinder has 16 cubic feet of cargo room. There's 47.8 cubic feet with the third row folded and a maximum of 79.8 cubic feet when the second and third rows are down. There's also an oversized glove box for additional storage. A hands-free power liftgate is now available and can be activated by waving your foot under the rear bumper. 

The Pathfinder's 6,000-pound maximum towing capacity is 1,000 pounds greater for 2017 thanks to drivetrain updates and reinforcements near the trailer hitch receiver. Its rating is 1,000 pounds more than most competitors' but falls short of the Durango's 7,400-pound rating when equipped with rear-wheel drive and a V-8 engine.

Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Pathfinder its highest rating — good — in each of its various crash tests, and the SUV received the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's highest five-star overall rating. Forward automatic emergency braking is a new option for 2017 and is included on Platinum models. The system received IIHS’ highest rating: superior.

A backup camera is standard, and SL and higher trims have Nissan's 360-degree camera system that can show a bird's-eye view of the SUV's surroundings. The camera images look a little blurry on the dashboard screen, but the system was a big hit with editors, who liked the extra measure of safety when entering and leaving parking spaces. Other available active safety features include adaptive cruise control and a blind spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert.

Value in Its Class

Nissan's updates to the Pathfinder follow a familiar formula in the auto industry: Tweak the styling and add some features to keep the model fresh in shoppers' minds. The automaker went even further than the mid-cycle update norm by giving the SUV a significantly revised V-6 engine, along with other changes.

Even with these changes, however, it doesn't feel like Nissan did enough; apart from the Pathfinder's relatively spacious seating and cargo areas, the SUV feels a step behind the competition in other key areas.


2017 Pathfinder Video

Nissan's three-row SUV gets an update for 2017 that will make it more comfortable to drive. Although it doesn't look like much has changed with the Pathfinder this year, there are some pretty big changes that make it much more competitive.

Latest 2017 Pathfinder Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.7)
Performance
(4.7)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Love the car

by Neil B from Weaver Al on April 17, 2018

This suv has been on of the best vehicles I have owed. I did not think I would like driving a bigger car. However, this suv drives and handles like a car. I couldn’t be more pleased. Read full review

(3.0)

Poor customer service

by Kris on April 14, 2018

I’d be excited if Nissan stood behind its cars and were easy to work with. The rear rotors need to be completely replaced on my 2015 Pathfinder. The service manager Tom in Des Moines assures me it’s ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2017 Nissan Pathfinder currently has 0 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2017 Nissan Pathfinder S

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Child Seat Anchors (Latch)

Ease of Use
acceptable

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable

Small Overlap Front - Driver Side

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/Thigh
good
Lower Leg/Foot
good
Overall Evaluation
good
Restraints and Dummy Kinematics
good
Structure and Safety Cage
good
poor
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Nissan

Program Benefits

24 Hour Emergency Roadside Assistance, Towing Assistance, Trip Interruption Benefits, 3-month free subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio on properly equipped vehicles, Complimentary CARFAX® Vehicle History Report™ and 3-Year CARFAX® Buy Back Guarantee

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty from original in-service date; $50 deductible
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 167 point inspection and reconditioning.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Pathfinder received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

B

Infant seat

A

Booster

(second row)

B

Booster

(third row)

B

Latch or Latch system

B

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

A
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker