Nissan could have rested on its laurels with the Pathfinder as this generation is only a couple of years old and selling 90% up over the previous generation. But the segment is competitive and they listened to their customers and gave the 2017 model a significant change inside and out with a lot more tech goodies to make life easier and safer. They focused on several areas:
- Major style and design upgrades
- Improved driving dynamics
- Enhanced user friendliness
- Advanced Driver Assistance Technology
The exterior has front and rear changes that move it towards bolder SUV stance and less carlike/crossover than the previous iteration. New LED headlamps, revised grill and fog lamps and front air dam yielded slightly better aerodynamics than the prior version. This model as a drag coefficient of .326 vs .34 of the outgoing model that adds incrementally over the long haul to its highway fuel economy.
The drive train is improved with a new version of the 3.5l V6. Adding in new air intake, mirror finish cylinder bores with direct injection and new variable valve technology brings about a horsepower increase from 260 to 289. Torque also gets a bump with these changes from maximum rating of 240 in the old version to 259 in the new engine. The changes added power yet let the Pathfinder keep best in class mileage ratings of 20 city, 27 highway and 23 combined. Towing capacity is best in class at 6,000 pounds.
Ride and handling was enhanced with all new struts and 25% stiffer springs in the rear. There is now less roll and sway through the twisty bits of the canyons than the outgoing models had. Steering has a quicker ratio allowing for faster response while turning and making lane changes.
Their all wheel drive system is new with an enhanced 4X4-I system. This simple rotary dial allows for full lock up in LOW range allowing 100% torque to be allocated perfect for launching a boat in water, slippery slopes and snow driving.
New to this model is Nissan's enhance infotainment center with NissanConnect. It has built in HD microphone for better voice recognition and commands. It has smartphone style pinch and zoom finger controls on the touch screen. It even has over 5,000 points of interested preloaded into its map folders.
NissanConnect allows you to control your cars lights, remort start, lock, valet alert and a few other tricks from from your smart phone. It has an SOS button that you can use to signal for help in an emergency. Its even possible to do remote stuff similar to the smart phone via the web including sending maps to your navigation system.
Technology enhancements make this vehicle stand out in the class for 2017. Several are new for this year adding to the well equipped available features from the out going model. They are:
- Forward Emergency Braking (new)
- Forward Collision Warning (new)
- Blindspot Warning
- Rear Collision Alert
- Class exclusive All Around View Monitor with moving object detection (new)
- Intelligent Cruise Control
- Automatic Hill Descent
Pricing is expected to start at under $30,000 for the S trim and increase as you move up the grade ladder through SV, SL and Platinum. Additionally enhanced packages are available with each move up the ladder that make each grade have unique customization.
What does all this mean. It means the Pathfinder got a significant upgrade over the last version of this generation. On the road this is the quietest Pathfinder yet. Only the occasional roar from the throaty V6 when its called to accelerate hard up an onramp or steep grade. It seriously is the best as in quietest and drone-less CVT application I've seen yet.
This is really a road trip car that can take a serious jaunt off pavement as this video can attest too. On the freeways and twisty bits on Laureless Grade in Carmel the car was not wanting for power, nor was it lacking finesse in the curves.
Off-roading is where I was pleasantly surprised by the abilities of this machine. Up hill, loose gravel, sand whatever it was able to effortlessly power through it all. The Downhill Assist was a trip. Push a button and simply aim where you want to go, the system does the downshifting and braking to get you safely down. Its so different to not control gas and brake and let it do it for you with only the soft hum of relays alternating which brake needs application to ensure your safe descent. Amazing.
With its stated competition of Ford Explorer, GMC Acadia, Toyota Highlander and Honda's Pilot mechanically and driving this is an extremely competitive truck. The niggles come about in the hard plastics used on the dash and console that just don't exude the same upmarket feel as the Platinum version of the Explorer. Whether that is a hindrance or not is debatable, just an observation I made regarding top trim comparisons. Overall I really liked this Pathfinder.
This adventure was a gift from Nissan, they provided my transportation and hotel while in Carmel Valley. It however doesn't affect my opinion and impressions of the vehicle...as if anyone could program my words!