Although it wears the name once associated with a rugged, body-on-frame SUV, that’s the only thing the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder shares in common with its beloved ancestor. Today’s Pathfinder is a modern SUV, built more like a car than a truck, which is just fine by most people. The change in design allows for a safer, lighter and more comfortable SUV, one adept at handling the needs of today’s busy families. Now set to do battle with the likes of the Chevrolet Traverse, the Ford Explorer and the Toyota Highlander, the Pathfinder won’t be tearing up many off-road trails, but what it can do is transport up to seven people in comfort and safety while towing up to 6,000 pounds.
Stylistically, the 2019 Pathfinder leans to the more progressive side, with lots of curving lines and a dynamic front end that’s somewhat reminiscent of the Nissan Maxima and Altima sedans. Inside, the Pathfinder’s comfortable seats and tastefully reserved dashboard should offend few, while clever features like Rear Door Alert help remind drivers to check the rear seat before walking away from the vehicle.
What’s New for 2019?
For 2019, all Pathfinder trims gain a rear sonar system and two additional USB type-C ports that join the existing four USB type-A ports. SV and higher trims gain Nissan’s Intelligent Cruise Control, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert, while SL and Platinum trims add LED headlights.
Also new for 2019 is the Rock Creek edition ($995), which is a new exterior package that features off-road inspired black trim pieces and overfender molding.
What We Like
Strong horsepower and torque; adept handling; full suite of safety and driver-assist technologies; all-wheel drive can be added to any trim; 6,000-lb tow rating
What We Don’t
Some safety and driver-assist systems that are standard on competitors are still optional on the Pathfinder; unremarkable interior; lacks Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility
The 2019 Pathfinder is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that generates 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque. Towing capacity is an impressive 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). Fuel economy numbers are 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway in front-wheel-drive versions, and 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with AWD.
Standard Features and Options
The Pathfinder follows Nissan’s grade structure with S, SV, SL and Platinum trim levels.
The S ($32,225, FWD), ($33,915, AWD) comes standard with 18-in painted wheels, hill assist, power outboard mirrors with integrated turn signals, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, automatic emergency braking, cloth seats, a 60/40-split reclining second-row seat, Rear Door Alert, a 50/50 reclining fold-flat third-row seat, cruise control, a rear sonar system, power door locks with keyless remote, power windows, tri-zone automatic climate control, two 12-volt power outlets, six USB ports, push-button ignition, Advanced Drive-Assist with a 4-in color display, Bluetooth connectivity and a 6-speaker audio system with an 8-in color display. Oddly, the only factory option is heated outboard mirrors.
The SV ($35,625, FWD), ($36,955, AWD) 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. Standard driver assists include adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Options include the SV All Weather package with a heated steering wheel, heated front seats and heated mirrors. The SV Tech package adds navigation with upgraded NissanConnect and SiriusXM services, a trailer hitch and wiring harness.
The SL ($38,915, FWD), ($40,605, AWD) 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, LED headlights 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 ($43,565, FWD), ($45,255, AWD) builds on the SL’s standard and optional equipment with a power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, wood grain interior accents, a tow hitch with wire harness, 20-in aluminum alloy wheels, heated and cooled front seats. The only option is the rear-seat Family Entertainment package with a DVD player, dual headrest-mounted 8-in monitors and headphones.
After crash tests, the National Highway Safety Administration awarded the 2019 Pathfinder five stars (its highest rating) overall. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has yet to crash-test the 2019 Pathfinder but gave the 2018 version its best rating of Good in every category, but the small overlap front passenger test that scored an Acceptable rating. IIHS ranked the Pathfinder Superior in the crash avoidance and mitigation tests.
Every Pathfinder comes with six airbags, automatic emergency braking, Rear Door Alert, an energy-absorbing steering column and front and rear crumple zones. A blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert and Intelligent Cruise Control are standard on the SV and higher trims.
Behind the Wheel
Perched in the comfy driver’s seat, I was struck by the Pathfinder’s level of quiet — this is sedan-like noise suppression. There’s nothing terrible about the interior, but it didn’t wow me. Where the 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 recently 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 with the ability to tow up to 6,000 pounds. One clever feature worth noting is Nissan’s Intelligent Cruise Control that not only adjusts vehicle speed in relation to the vehicles ahead, but actually monitors the road ahead via the car’s navigation system. If the system detects a sharp curve approaching, it will slow the vehicle to an appropriately safe speed.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 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 standard on every trim.
2019 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. Forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams are standard on every trim level.
At just under $36,000, the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder SV provides most of the popular standard gear along with some advanced safety systems. Toss in the All Weather and Tech packages, and you’re still out the door for less than $38,000. Unless you simply must have leather seats or the around-view monitor, the SV grade is a pretty good buy.