The Nissan Pathfinder helped kick-off America’s obsession with small, scrappy SUVs way back in 1986. Automakers knew consumer needs and tastes were changing but the transformation from cars and trucks to car-based SUVs wasn’t super smooth. Back in 1986, Nissan had the formula right with the original Pathfinder while others floundered with odd-looking station wagon-y things like the Mitsubishi Expo LRV and the Honda Civic Wag-0-Van. The original Pathfinder (homerun on the name choice!) was a small two-door SUV with bold, era-defining style and real off-road abilities. Later they added a four-door but masterfully hid the rear doors retaining the Pathfinder’s cool vibe but adding needed utility.
That original Pathfinder formula worked. Later, the Pathfinder became more of a smooth-riding family-friendly SUV, then back to a scrappy off-roader then back to the family wagon formula in 2013.
But none of that matters unless the new Pathfinder can prove its worth in the real world. In terms of capability, there’s a new 9-speed transmission and a new 4-wheel drive system. That new transmission is standard on all versions of the ’22 Pathfinder. There’s no way a real “path-finding” SUV was ever going to make do with a CVT (continuously variable automatic transmission) so that’s out.
What’s New for 2022
For 2022, the spirit of the original scrappy Pathfinder is back. On paper, the new Pathfinder looks like it can actually find new paths. However, the comfy three-row deluxe family hauler hasn’t completely disappeared. Imagine an SUV that combines the attitude of a bright red 80s Pathfinder with the comfort and convenience of a 2019 Pathfinder Platinum and you’ll come close to understanding the all-new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder.
The shape and style of the new SUV are forward-looking, futuristic almost. Yet there are nods to the past – the three holes in the grille just below the hood and the angled side pilar are inspired by the original. It doesn’t look anything like the 2013 to 2020 Pathfinder that intentionally employed round edges and a soft look. The new version is attractive in a totally different way. It’s sleek without looking soft, tough without looking old, and modern without looking gimmicky.
What We Like
- New Look
- Hardware Enables Real Pathfinding
- Best in class towing
- New 9-speed transmission
- 13-Speaker Bose Audio Available
- Base S trim gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Third-row USB port
What We Don’t
- No ProPilot 2.0
- No Hybrid (Yet?)
$30,000 in base trim to $45,000 (estimated) for a really nicely equipped SUV
Official fuel economy estimates are not out yet, but expect a range of 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
Standard Features and Options
Inside, there’s the kind of flexibility families demand. Seating can go up to eight and there are now optional captain’s chairs in the second row. There’s even a removable center console that doesn’t require tools to take it out. In addition, the cargo area can accommodate a 4×8 sheet of plywood.
On the tech front, there’s wireless phone charging, wireless Apple CarPlay, a 12.3-inch digital dash display and an almost as large head-up display. Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 is standard and ProPilot Assist is available. That interior has seven different “Environments,” as Nissan calls them.
Here’s what we know about the various trims and versions of the new Pathfinder:
Base S versions include Nissan Safety Shield 360, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 3.5-liter V6 and 9-speed transmission, front-wheel drive.
SV adds ProPilot Assist, NissanConnect services (powered by SiriusXM), heated front seats, heated side mirrors. A premium package becomes available on the SV.
SL adds ProPilot Assist with Navi-link, 360-degree Around View Monitor, Wireless Apple CarPlay. The SL has one optional premium package.
Platinum adds 12.3-inch digital display, 10.8-inch Head-Up display, wireless phone charging.
Safety Shield 360 is standard. That suite of technology includes Intelligent Forward Collsion Warning, Driver Alertness, rear door alert, rear parking sonar, automatic headlights, and Nissan’s Easy-Fill Tire Alert.
Behind the Wheel
Under the hood is a familiar 3.5 liter V6. It makes 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque. When paired with that new 9-speed transmission, the response should be quick and smooth. The engine itself isn’t all-new but that’s not really a criticism. Like any automaker, Nissan has made a few missteps over the years but you can’t knock their engines. Building a smooth, powerful engine for a variety of uses is something they consistently get right.
The 2022 version also brings new 4×4 hardware and software. Part of that is a drive mode selector with 7 different terrain settings. These include Eco, Sand, Sport, Standard, Mud, and Towing. As far as the hardware, the front suspension is struts with dual flow path shocks and a solid stabilizer. Independent multi-link suspension with dual flow shocks and a hollow stabilizer bar help keep the rear wheels in check. The four-wheel-drive system has direct coupling that allows for a more direct transfer of power.
Yes, it can tow – the 2022 Pathfinder has a 6,000-lb towing capacity (standard on Platinum). For comparison, that’s about 1,000 lbs more than competing SUVs like the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and, Kia Telluride. Trailer sway control is standard on the ’22 Pathfinder.
There’s also plenty of cargo space, 16.6 cubic feet behind the third-row of seating,
45.0 cubic feet behind 2nd row and with the 3rd row folded, and 80.5 with the second and third-row folded down.
Other SUVs to Consider
Toyota 4Runner – Arguably the champ when it comes to balancing off-road and on-road capability. New or used, the 4Runner is the one to beat in this competitive class.
Ford Explorer – One of the better three-row SUVs when it comes to moving your family and your stuff around town and on the open highway.
Toyota Highlander – The Highlander has been recently updated as well. Which one you pick probably depends on how much time you spend doing things that require a little off the beaten path adventures.