Just as my recent drive in the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee revealed a series of positive incremental changes, another long-standing element of the SUV scene has also received a facelift – with largely positive results.
The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder has evolved into what looks like a noticeably larger, three-row, all-weather machine with seating for up to eight passengers, but that’s the result of a boxier, futuristic design and no actual change in vehicle dimensions. .
Perhaps it’s the floating roof effect, with blackened glass, darkened roof rails and window frames. Or maybe it’s those pronounced running boards at the bottom of the doors or the wide wheel arches. Or even the big 20-inch wheels I had on a pre-production model, followed by a week in the four-wheel-drive Platinum Edition, each priced at $48,090 (or $51,395 with two-tone paint, the aforementioned running boards and a lighting package).
Regardless, it doesn’t feel or drive like it’s an Armada-sized beast, which is a relief. You can certainly load a whole family in the back – or just provide extra large second-row seats, as that row slides a lot if you don’t need a third-row kid’s room – and the reconfigured interior space gained 10 cubic feet. The entry height is also comfortably car-like, not awkward for a truck.
On the road, it’s not heavy, too heavy (4,625 pounds) or clumsy (except, perhaps, when fitted with the lightest possible all-season tires and driven to Glenwood Springs after 60 inches of snow ). The improved stiffness is sometimes evident on bonkers sections of pavement, part of a series of drivetrain and suspension upgrades that make it responsive and less vague than larger options. And the 284-horsepower, 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine let me easily pass furious Tacoma drivers on the way to the tunnel. It’s also reasonably efficient, getting the EPA-suggested 25 mpg highway and capable of towing up to 6,000 pounds.
Like the new Nissan Frontier – or very, very similar to the new Infiniti QX60 – Pathfinder gets plenty of interesting interior design features and a 12-inch digital instrument cluster. It’s also available with Nissan’s full ProPilot Assist and front, rear, side, blind spot and lane safety features. Those like me who don’t appreciate lane-keeping jolts can simply opt for a lighter-impact wheel hum feature; if you have to drive all the way to Chicago in the summer, the other assist features will be ideal for light, self-driving highway trips.
The wide, flat instrument panel and a very bright head-up display provide good visibility on the road. There’s a glossy black center console with a relatively unobtrusive AV and navigation screen, discreet air vents and a few useful hard control buttons underneath. There’s a forward-leaning phone charger, Korean-style open cupholders and a very curious sliding shift control (press too hard and you’ll find yourself in manual shift mode). There’s also a seven-step drive mode and terrain selector, the snow setting of which completely negates all acceleration. You also get a flat-bottomed racing steering wheel and open storage space under the console.
At the rear of the cabin, four ceiling-mounted air vents are a nice touch, with full HVAC controls at the rear of the cabin and manual blinds for the rear doors. As mentioned, there’s plenty of sliding to those seats, which also do the jump-and-eject dance to allow access to the tiny third row. Captain’s chairs and a removable second-row console box are also another build option.
If you want to block the world of irritated drivers behind you, the large rectangular head restraints certainly do the trick; these can be dropped, as can the seats themselves, revealing 79.8 cubic feet of storage up to 33 inches high behind the front row. There is also a gigantic 54-litre storage bin under the loading deck.
Andy Stonehouse’s “Mountain Wheels” column is published Saturday in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Golden. Contact him at [email protected].