Review: Nissan's 2022 Pathfinder exceeds expectations

When it arrived in the mid-1980s, the Nissan Pathfinder was true to its name – rugged and off-road-capable, and built on the same body-on-frame platform as the Hardbody compact pickup truck. It's a different animal now. After a one-year hiatus, the Pathfinder – long ago converted from a compact, truck-bodied SUV to a midsize crossover – is back in the game.

With a base price of $33,140, the Pathfinder competes with a long list of midsize, medium-priced SUVs. These vehicles tend to sell briskly and produce substantial profits for their builders. They include the Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia, Volkswagen Atlas, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Subaru Ascent and Honda Pilot. BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and other manufacturers sell high-priced luxury versions of the midsize SUV. Much improved as a result of the redesign for 2022, the Pathfinder is now a serious contender in the medium-priced group.

Having recently driven a Kia Telluride, a roomy, smooth-riding SUV that splits the difference between compact and midsize, we figured we knew how the best of these cars feel, sound and function. The Pathfinder exceeded our expectations.

The 2022 Pathfinder is equipped with Nissan's acclaimed 3.5-liter V-6, which produces 284 horsepower. This engine is uncommonly smooth and quiet, and works well with the 9-speed shiftable automatic transmission. Seating in the front and second-row seats is roomy and comfortable, and the second and third-row seats fold down in seconds to produce a relatively level cargo bed.

Our test car was a pre-production 2022 Pathfinder Platinum with 4-wheel drive. Its sticker price was $50,290. The base model, labeled S, lacks many of the Platinum version's creature comforts and flourishes, and has front-wheel drive. However, all Pathfinders have the same engine-transmission combination and several desirable safety features, including blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision mitigation, rear automatic braking and lane-departure warning.

In Platinum trim, the Pathfinder basically is a near-luxury SUV, featuring 20-inch wheels, dual panoramic sunroof, Bose premium audio system, power tilt-telescoping steering wheel, heating and cooling front seats, heated second-row seats, quilted leather upholstery and a hands-free liftgate.

Also standard in Platinum-level Pathfinders is a towing hitch with harness, and for many SUV buyers, that will seal the deal – especially when they find out the Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds. Most of the competitors top out at about 5,000 pounds.

More Information

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum 4WD

 

Price: $50,290

Engine: 3.5-liter V-6, 284 horsepower, 259 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 9-speed shiftable automatic

Drive: all-wheel

Weight: 4,625 lb.

Ground clearance: 7.1 in.

Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear

Wheels: 20-in. painted alloy

Tires: P255/50R20 all-season

Seating capacity: 7

Luggage capacity: 16.6 cu. ft.

Maximum cargo capacity: 80.5 cu. ft.

Towing capacity: 6,000 lb.

Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons

Fuel economy: 20 mpg city, 25 mpg highway

Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline

Fuel economy is about average for the midsize-SUV segment: 21 mpg city, 25 highway. When equipped with front-wheel drive, highway fuel economy is 27 mpg. There is no gasoline-electric hybrid or all-electric version of the Pathfinder.

The Pathfinder is Nissan's second-largest SUV, behind the bulky Armada, and bigger than the Murano, Rogue, Rogue Sport and Kicks.

The 2019 Pathfinder was designated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Crash-testing hasn't been completed on the new model.

Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Brookfield, Conn.