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2017 Nissan Pathfinder: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader October 2016

No one really expects monumental changes from a vehicle's mid-lifecycle refresh. Manufacturers usually try to change things just enough to have something to talk about while keeping the costs required to implement any changes to a minimum. With the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder, none of the enhancements are dramatic, but some -- such as the beefed-up V6 -- are noteworthy.

The noticeable exterior styling changes are in front of the A-pillar. Here, in addition to a new hood, we can find Maxima influences like a V-Motion grille and boomerang-shaped headlights with LED daytime running lights. The front bumper also got a once-over, and new taillights highlight the updating in the rear.

A fun convenience upgrade is the available motion-activated lift gate with position memory. A wave of your foot under the center of the rear bumper activates the power-opening function.

The long and short of it? Nissan did about as much tinkering as expected.

What's New for 2017?

Nissan did a little massaging of the Pathfinder inside and out, adding a reinvigorated V6, 1,000 extra pounds of towing capacity, an available motion-activated lift gate, a stiffer suspension and a larger touchscreen.

What We Like

Boost in both horsepower and torque; improved handling; available full suite of safety and driver-assist technologies; all-wheel drive can be added to any trim for $1,690

What We Don't

Most available safety and driver-assist systems only available on upper grades; unremarkable interior

How Much?

$30,890-$42,770

Fuel Economy

Nissan managed to retain last year's government-estimated fuel-economy numbers of 20 miles per gallon city and 27 mpg on the highway in front-wheel-drive versions (19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive) despite significantly boosting power output in the Pathfinder's single engine offering. With more than 56 percent of its components replaced, the 3.5-liter V6 now generates 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque, an increase of 24 hp and 19 lb-ft of torque. Towing capacity is also up from 5,000 pounds to 6,000 pounds, which is substantial in this segment.

Divvying up engine output to either the front or all four wheels falls to Nissan's Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). A CVT seems like an odd choice for a fairly large, 3-row crossover, but Nissan is firmly wedded to CVTs and does them better than just about anyone.

Standard Features and Options

The Pathfinder follows Nissan's grade structure with S, SV, SL and Platinum trim levels.

The S ($30,890) comes standard with 18-inch painted wheels, hill assist, power outboard mirrors with integrated turn signals, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, cloth seats, a 60/40-split reclining second-row seat, a 50/50 reclining fold-flat third-row seat, cruise control, power door locks with keyless remote, power windows, tri-zone automatic climate control, two 12-volt power outlets, a USB port, push-button ignition, Advanced Drive-Assist with a 4-in color display, Bluetooth connectivity and a 6-speaker audio system with a 8-in color display. Oddly, the only factory option is heated outboard mirrors.

The SV ($33,580) comes with the S trim's equipment and options and also includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto on/off headlights, an 8-way power driver's seat, an auto-dimming inside rearview mirror, a programmable key fob, four 12-volt power outlets, rear sonar parking assist and remote engine start. Options include a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert.

The SL ($36,600) includes all of the SV's standard and listed optional equipment and adds a motion-activated power lift gate with position memory, hill-descent control, first- and second-row leather seating, additional driver's-seat power adjustments, a 4-way power-adjustable front-passenger seat, a 120-volt power outlet and a 360-degree around-view monitor with motion detection. Among the options are a dual-pane panoramic power moon roof, a navigation system and a 12-speaker Bose-infused audio system with an 8-in color touchscreen.

The Platinum ($42,770) builds on the SL's standard and optional equipment with a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, wood-grain interior accents, a tow hitch with wire harness, 20-in aluminum-alloy wheels, LED headlights, heated and cooled front seats, intelligent cruise control and forward emergency braking. The only option is the rear-seat Family Entertainment Package with a DVD player, dual headrest-mounted 8-in monitors and headphones.

Safety

After crash tests, the National Highway Safety Administration awarded the 2017 Pathfinder five stars (its highest rating) overall. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has yet to crash-test the basically unchanged 2017 Pathfinder but gave the 2016 version its best rating of Good across the board.

Every Pathfinder comes with six airbags, an energy-absorbing steering column and front and rear crumple zones. A blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert are available on the SV and standard on the SL and Platinum. Forward-emergency braking and Intelligent Cruise Control are only available on the Platinum grade, which includes them as standard.

Behind the Wheel

Perched in the comfy driver's seat, I was struck by Pathfinder's level of quiet -- this is sedanlike noise suppression. There's nothing terrible about the interior, but it didn't wow me. Where the new Armada and even the Titan punch up in their segments in terms of the passenger experience, the Pathfinder seems content to run with the pack.

Nissan quickened the steering response and firmed up the suspension. Although I'm sure that translates into better and more responsive handling, it's too nuanced to easily detect. The extra power mostly arrives at higher rpm numbers and would no doubt be more apparent with a traditional transmission. The ride is family-friendly.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Mazda CX-9 -- Redesigned for 2016, the CX-9 combines hot styling with excellent fuel economy and a high-end passenger experience. Mazdas have a reputation for sporty handling, and the CX-9 is no exception.

2016 Honda Pilot -- With a more refined interior than many of its competitors, the Pilot is not only comfortable but also excels in creative storage spaces. Honda Sensing is a full suite of safety and driver-assist features available on all but the base model.

2016 Toyota Highlander -- Always included in any discussion of top-tier 3-row crossovers, the Highlander checks all the boxes for a stylish, refined family-hauler. For those who put fuel economy above performance, it offers a 4-cylinder in addition to the more competitive V6.

Autotrader's Advice

At $33,550, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder SV provides most of the popular standard gear along with some optional advanced safety systems. Unless you simply must have leather seats or the around-view monitor, the SV grade is a pretty good buy.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Nissan Pathfinder: New Car Review - Autotrader