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Hands-on With the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder: A Huge Improvement

I was recently in Missoula, Montana, to drive the fully redesigned 2022 Nissan Pathfinder. Here are some of my takeaways after about 100 miles behind the wheel.

The new Pathfinder is available in four trim levels: S, SV, SL, and Platinum. I drove the upper-tier SL and Platinum models. To determine which trim would be right for you, check out our 2022 Nissan Pathfinder Trim Level Review.

Right out of the gate, the all-new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is a big improvement over the previous generation. The old model felt tired, dated, and uninspired. The new one has significantly more character, thanks largely to its new, modern interior. The dashboard design is blocky. The air vents, trim pieces, and steering wheel all incorporate many right angles. The infotainment system is fine; you’re unlikely to be bothered by it, which is the mark of good UI design. The lack of a mechanical connection to the transmission allows the area under the Nissan's new electronic gear shifter to be used as a large storage space. This is great for purses, sunglasses, and other bulky items. Nissan’s representatives pointed out the new Pathfinder’s door pockets, which have been designed to accept oversized water bottles. They included 32-ounce Nalgene bottles with every vehicle for testing purposes.

The Pathfinder’s second row is spacious and airy, thanks largely to the vehicle’s upright greenhouse. Check the box for the optional second-row captain’s chairs, and the Pathfinder comes with a removable center console, giving you the option to have either storage space or an easy pass-through to the third row. Though it doesn’t act as an additional seat, the Pathfinder’s center console weighs less than 10 pounds and can easily be dislodged and removed from the vehicle with one hand; it’s one of the new Pathfinder’s most clever design features.

The Pathfinder’s third row now seats three across; the previous generation only offered room for two. As with many 3-row crossovers, the Pathfinder’s rearmost seat is best reserved for kids, though with the second-row seat slid forward a bit, an average size adult could tolerate it back there in a pinch.

Out on the road, the biggest change to the Pathfinder is the new 9-speed automatic transmission, which replaces a loud and labored continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) from the previous generation. On a 50-mile drive through Northwestern Montana, the transmission shifted smoothly and predictably. The fact that there were actual, discernable shifts at all was enough of a win by itself. The 3.5-liter V6 under the Nissan Pathfinder’s hood makes 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque; it’s a carryover from the previous generation. The Pathfinder’s V6 is fine; it doesn’t make or break the experience. We’d welcome a hybrid option down the road, though we aren’t sure we’ll see one. The new Pathfinder also features an improved all-wheel-drive system, capable of getting you over small ruts and bumps found on the kinds of dirt roads that lead to most campsites, as was proven at the Pathfinder first drive, where we did just that.

Additionally, the 2022 Pathfinder boasts up to 6,000 pounds of towing capacity, about 1,000 pounds more than most competitors. Nissan Pathfinder SUVs rated to tow this amount also come with a 7-pin trailer connector, meaning they are ready to tow a small boat, toy hauler, or camp trailer right out of the box.

Nissan’s ProPilot Assist feature is also available. It combines radar cruise control and lane-keep assist features to pilot the vehicle down the highway over short distances with minimal driver intervention. The availability of this feature is one of the key things that sets the Pathfinder apart from the competition heading into 2022.

Overall, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is a strong effort. While the outgoing model was easily at the back of the pack, the new Pathfinder is targeted right at the heart of the highly competitive 3-row crossover SUV segment. Find a Nissan Pathfinder for sale

Chris O’Neill grew up in the rust belt and now lives in the adventure hub of Salt Lake City, Utah. He worked in the auto industry for a while, helping Germans design cars for Americans. Find him on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.

Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill is an author specializing in competitive analysis, consumer recommendations, and adventure-driven enthusiast content. A lifelong car enthusiast, he worked in the auto industry for a bit, helping Germans design cars for Americans, and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He runs an Instagram account, @MountainWestCarSpotter, which in his own words is "actually pretty good", and has a... Read More about Chris O'Neill

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