2017 NISSAN PATHFINDER HOPES TO RIDE ROGUE SUCCESS

2017 Nissan Pathfinder
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By Tom Crosby

In automotive companies – just like families – sometimes one sibling is favored over another. Nissan smartly aligned its major marketing dollars for the 2017 Rogue compact crossover, linking it with the “Rogue One” movie.

Sales of the already popular Nissan Rogue have soared. Like any good parent, however, Nissan didn’t totally ignore the Rogue’s older sibling, the venerable Pathfinder – classified as a small SUV – which first surfaced in the U.S. in 1985. For 2017 the seven-passenger Pathfinder improved its engine, sharpened its appearance and added safety and interactive technology features.

We test-drove the Platinum, top above the S, SV and SL trims, with four-wheel drive.

Pathfinders’ only engine – an upgraded 3.5-liter V6 – mated easily with a smoothly shifting Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission. Direct injection and more than 50% new Pathfinder engine parts gained an additional 24 horsepower and 19 lb.-ft. of torque. Towing prowess grew to 6,000 pounds – up 1,000 pounds – when properly equipped.

Outside changes included Nissan’s V-motion grille between LED boomerang-shaped headlights beneath a wider looking hood. Raked windshield, chrome door strips and roof rails, along with a revised taillight and bumper provide a clean look.

The ride on 20-inch wheels was nicely mannered with stiffer shock absorbers and improved rear spring rates in all three driving selection modes – two-wheel, auto or four-wheel – to cope with different road/ground conditions.

Handling felt average, with some lean in tight turns and a mild straight ahead bias. Seven inches of ground clearance inhibit extreme off-road driving.

Inside, rich-looking materials ergonomically integrate with a graphically clear 8-inch dashboard screen that handles voice commands well with appropriately timed navigation turn warnings.

A 13-speaker BOSE sound system overcomes pernicious road noise. All seats were leather-appointed, with first and second rows heated and cooled under a dual panoramic sunroof.

Our sole option was a $1,700 DVD entertainment package with seatback screens using wireless controls to show DVDs or listen to music with headphones.

The second-row bench tilt/slides for third-row access and when both rows are folded, cargo space grows to 50 cubic feet. A standard motion-activated tailgate opens above a spare tire.

Cupholders now tolerate mugs and an extra front USB port was added. Drivers can customize settings and SiriusXM® links provide real-time traffic, sports, movies, stocks, gas prices and weather information.
Cutting-edge safety aids include adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, emergency braking and rear cross traffic alert.

Pathfinders have a top government crash test rating.

LIKES: Cabin, comfort, versatility, ride, looks, safety
DISLIKES: Wind/road noise
BOTTOM LINE: A family-oriented viable choice among a slew of competitors

FACT FILE: 2017 NISSAN PATHFINDER RPLATINUM 4WD

  • Base price w/destination fee $44,460 (as tested $46,160)
  • Curb weight 4,660 lbs.
  • Wheelbase 114.2 inches
  • Length 198.5 inches
  • Width 77.2 inches
  • Engine specs 3.5-liter, DOHC, V6
  • Horsepower 284 hp at 6,400 rpm
  • Torque 259 lbs.-ft. at 4,800 rpm
  • Transmission Continuously variable valve timing
  • EPA Rating 19 city, 26 highway
  • Range 19.5 gallons, regular
  • Performance 0-60 in roughly 7.5 seconds