2022 Nissan Pathfinder: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNew for 2022
Before the SUV evolved into a dominant form of transportation in America, Nissan introduced the original Pathfinder as a 2-door, truck-based sport-utility vehicle. That was 35 years ago, and the SUV market in America has changed dramatically since then — as has the Pathfinder. Now the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder premieres as an all-new model with a roomy interior, impressive capability, new technology and rugged looks influenced by the original 1987 model.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHistorical Inspiration
“Thirty-five years after the launch of the original model, Pathfinder has returned to its rugged roots, loaded with the benefit of everything learned along the way,” said Jared Haslam, vice president of product and services planning at Nissan North America. “Today’s large SUV owners want a vehicle that conveys strength and rugged capability, while using advanced safety and technology features . . . during every-day adventures, and the all-new 2022 Pathfinder is ready to take on those adventures,” said Haslam.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUpdated Design
The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder gets a more rugged, squared off design than the outgoing version, sporting an updated edition of Nissan’s familiar V-Motion grille — a frontal feature found on almost every model in the Nissan lineup. Standard LED headlights that sit flush with the bodywork flank the grille, while slim LED daytime running lights wrap around the hoodline. The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder includes a three-bar grille in tribute to the first-generation Pathfinder.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceClassic Proportions
When viewed from the side, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder clearly possesses classic SUV proportions although with smoother edges; the hood slopes slightly forward while the roofline slopes slightly rearward. Optional two-tone paint — available for the first time ever on Pathfinder — enhances the SUV’s floating roof motif. Bold fenders in a style similar to the new Rogue crossover provide a powerful stance, further emphasized by available 20-inch wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear View
At the rear of the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder, slim LED taillights wrap around the vehicle’s pronounced corners, connected by a dark bar with a centered Nissan logo. Observers will not be mistaking this vehicle for any other thanks to the name PATHFINDER spelled out in large satin-chrome lettering — a favorite among new design elements.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
Nissan offers the 2022 Pathfinder in four trim levels: S, SV, SL and Platinum. Each trim configuration has front-wheel drive as part of the vehicle’s standard equipment, although all-wheel drive can be added to any trim for $1,900.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan Safety Shield 360
The automaker’s suite of advanced safety features — called Nissan Safety Shield 360 — is also standard equipment on every Pathfinder trim level. The safety package includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and rear automatic braking.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan Pathfinder S
As the entry trim of the Pathfinder, the S has a starting price of $33,410. Standard equipment includes woven cloth seats, tri-zone climate control, an 8.0-inch touchscreen display, an AM/FM stereo with six speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, four USB ports, a rearview monitor and 8-occupant seating. LED headlights and 18-inch painted aluminum alloy wheels are also standard.

© Nissan North AmericaNissan Pathfinder SV
With a base price of $36,200, the SV upgrades the S with heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power driver’s seat, remote engine start, blind-spot intervention, ProPILOT Assist, heated mirrors, roof rails and Nissan Connect. The SV is also available with a $2,170 Premium Package that adds a panoramic moonroof, a power liftgate, a tow receiver hitch with wire harness, a 6,000-pound towing capacity and second-row captain’s chairs.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan Pathfinder SL
Likely to be the volume model in the Pathfinder lineup, the SL starts at $39,590. Features additional to the SV include leather-trimmed front seats, a 9.0-inch touchscreen display, GPS navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay integration, an around-view monitor and a Type A USB port in the third row. The SL also gets LED fog lights, 18-inch machined aluminum alloy wheels, a power liftgate and sliver-finish roof rails. The Premium Package is also available on the SL, priced at $2,190. This includes items in the SV Premium Package plus a Bose premium audio system with 13 speakers, heated rear seats, a wireless charging pad and 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan Pathfinder Platinum
At a base price of $46,190, the Platinum resides at the peak of the Pathfinder lineup. The Platinum’s long list of standard features includes everything on the SL plus a 12.3-inch driver display, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a panoramic moonroof, a Bose premium audio system, wireless smartphone charging, brushed-bronze metallic interior trim and 7-passenger seating with second-row captain’s chairs and a removable center console. Platinum also gets a Class III receiver hitch with trailer wiring harness, chrome bodyside molding, a motion-activated tailgate and 20-inch machined aluminum alloy wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnder the Hood
Although the design of the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is all new, the engine remains unchanged from the previous generation. Power comes from Nissan’s proven 3.5-liter V6 engine producing 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque. However, Nissan ditches the previous Pathfinder’s CVT in favor of an all-new 9-speed automatic transmission, which provides more responsive shifts as well as improved performance over the CVT.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMax Towing
Towing capacity remains unchanged at 6,000 pounds, which still outclasses most crossovers in this segment. Pathfinders equipped with the receiver hitch and max tow rating also include trailer sway control; however, an integrated trailer brake controller is not available as a factory option.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceIntelligent 4WD
All Pathfinders are available with Nissan’s Intelligent 4WD system, which features direct coupling that provides a quick torque transfer to the rear wheels as needed. The driver can choose from seven drive and terrain modes to appropriately set up Pathfinder for any road and weather conditions. Modes include Standard, Sport, Eco, Snow, Sand Mud / Rut and Tow.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInner Space
Nissan designers incorporated major improvements to the Pathfinder cabin for the 2022 model year. Overall the design is cleaner with more open space than the outgoing model, centered around a large touchscreen display mounted high on the dashboard. A new electronic gear selector takes up less room and opens up the center console for more storage, as well as accommodating additional storage below.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHigh Tech
Depending on the trim level, the Pathfinder can be fitted with multiple screens and high levels of connectivity. In the top-level Platinum, the 9.0-inch center display and 12.3-inch digital driver’s display create a high-tech look in the cabin. With fixed digital buttons as well as physical buttons for audio and map, feature access is simple and intuitive. Climate controls are kept separate and have an easily discoverable interface for seat heating, the heated steering wheel and rear climate control.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceProPILOT Assist
The new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is available with the latest version of ProPILOT Assist, Nissan’s driver-assist technology that uses adaptive cruise control and steering assist to aid in acceleration, braking and steering both in heavy traffic and on the open road. Although the system isn’t quite autonomous driving, it is a step toward the inevitable addition of an autonomous driving option.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSeating
Depending on trim level, the seats of the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder can be trimmed in woven cloth, leather or premium quilted leather. The two-tone seats in the top-level Platinum add a premium touch while side bolsters offer comfortable support.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSecond Row
Pathfinder has standard 8-occupant seating with the option of second-row captain’s chairs that reduce occupancy to seven. In this configuration, Pathfinder features a center console that can be easily removed to provide additional space.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceEasy Access
Second-row seats can also fold and slide via the touch of a button for easy access to the third row, even if with a child seat installed.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceThird Row
In keeping with most vehicle of its size, the Pathfinder’s third row is a bit cramped for adults, especially with every seat in use. Second-row seats can be moved forward to provide a bit more legroom, and USB ports and cupholders for third-row passengers ease the pain of being relegated to the rearmost seats.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCargo Space
The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder doesn’t compromise any utility of the previous generation, offering plenty of cargo space. Nissan says the new SUV has room for four golf bags with all three rows in place. Users can also fold down both rows of rear seats to create enough space to haul a standard 4 x 8 sheet of plywood.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceExtra Storage
The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder has a hidden storage area below the cargo floor and available dividers to better organize items kept out of sight. Made of hard plastic, this storage area can be easily cleaned, making it a great place to stash muddy gear after a day of adventure.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
Nissan invited us to the Paws Up resort in western Montana to put the new Pathfinder through its paces. Out on the highway at speeds of 70–80 mph, the Pathfinder is comfortable with a quiet, solid ride. This is not a sporty vehicle, nor is it designed to be one; however, during our drive the Pathfinder held its own on winding roads along the Blackfoot River.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAutomatic Transmission
We were pleased to learn that Nissan replaced the Pathfinder’s CVT with a proper 9-speed automatic transmission, and it proved to be a great decision. Acceleration is strong with upshifts and downshifts both quick and smooth. The new transmission gives Pathfinder better on-road feel, and provides the driver and passengers with a more confident, satisfying ride.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOff Pavement
With 7.1 inches of ground clearance, the Pathfinder isn’t designed for extreme off-roading. although it is certainly capable of handling some light off-pavement driving. We adventured into the woods at the Paws Up resort in western Montana, encountering a mix of dirt, loose rock and some steep ascents and descents; the Pathfinder handled the varied terrain with no problems. The four-wheel drive system functions well, maintaining momentum when climbing over roots and rocks. The ride is a bit bouncy when the terrain gets rough, but nothing too uncomfortable.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDirt Roads
While exploring some of the 37,000 acres of the Paws Up property via dirt and gravel roads, the Pathfinder proved to be a proper conveyance. Traction is superb even at high speeds and provides an engaging, stable ride.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTowing
We also had the opportunity to pull a 23-foot Airstream International travel trailer weighing around 5,700 pounds — close to the Pathfinder’s max trailering weight of 6,000 pounds. The Pathfinder performs well even with a weighty trailer behind, easily getting up to freeway speed and maintaining it without a problem. The ride while towing a trailer is stable and confident with no sway to speak of.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHandling the Weight
The tongue weight on the Airstream is close to 700 pounds, although this didn’t present any issues for the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder. While driving the previous-generation Pathfinder, we towed a trailer with a lower tongue weight and the vehicle sat tail-low and hood-high — almost doing a wheelie. The new Pathfinder no longer has this issue.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRight for You?
The 3-row crossover remains one of the most competitive vehicle segments in America, giving consumers freedom of choice. The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder will certainly be a contender with its classic SUV styling, roomy interior and high-tech convenience and safety features. With admirable power, intelligent 4WD, a new 9-speed automatic transmission and a proper 6,000-pound towing capacity, the Pathfinder has enough qualities to stand out as a solid option for SUV shoppers.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 8.5
Pros: Attractive styling, roomy interior; 9-speed automatic replaces CVT.
Cons: Tight third row; no integrated brake for towing; no wireless Android Auto.
Bottom Line: Classic styling, high-tech features and a great drivetrain make Pathfinder a worthy competitor in the crowded 3-row crossover segment.

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