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  • Writer's pictureCory Fourniquet

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek: A More Rugged Version of Nissan's Popular 3-Row

Today we're diving into the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition, Nissan's most off-road capable version of their three-row crossover SUV.


The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition is the latest iteration of a long-standing nameplate that dates back to 1987. While maintaining some heritage design elements, this fifth-generation model is a heavily updated version of the previous platform, featuring new sheet metal, a fresh interior, and enhanced powertrain options.

Under the Hood

Lifting the hood reveals a transversely mounted 3.5-liter direct-injection V6 engine. While the Pathfinder is front-wheel-drive biased, it's equipped with Nissan's intelligent 4x4 system, boasting seven drive and terrain modes for various conditions. Power figures stand at 284 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque on regular fuel, while premium fuel raises the output to 295 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, coupled with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Exterior Design

The Rock Creek Edition sets itself apart with distinctive design cues. Upfront, a new v-motion grille with homage to the original Pathfinder's portholes grabs attention, accompanied by aggressive black plastic cladding, black grille accents, and LED lighting elements. Beadlock-style wheels wrapped in Toyo Open Country tires further reinforce the model's tough aesthetic.

Interior Features

Inside, the Rock Creek Edition introduces orange accents, stitching, and lighting to the cabin. While not offering leather seats, the model comes equipped with rock creek-specific leatherette and cloth seats. The dashboard features an 8-inch infotainment system with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though some users have noted occasional lag in response.

Seating and Comfort

The Pathfinder offers a stadium-style seating arrangement, providing excellent visibility for all passengers. The second row has a sliding function to balance legroom between rows. The third row, though relatively cramped, offers roof-mounted vents for improved rear passenger comfort. Additionally, the rear seats can be folded down to expand cargo space.

Off-Road Performance

The Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition is designed for light off-roading and outdoor adventures. Equipped with five-eighths inch more ground clearance than the standard model, along with off-road drive modes and an upgraded suspension, it confidently handles country trails and uneven terrain. The model's roof rack, with a 200-pound capacity, further supports outdoor activities.

On-Road Performance

On the road, the Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition provides a comfortable and composed ride. Its V6 engine, paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission, delivers satisfactory power and smooth acceleration. The model's handling is competent, though some reviewers have noticed a tendency for road noise due to its Toyo Open Country tires.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition offers a blend of off-road capability and family-friendly features. With its rugged design, improved powertrain, and comfortable interior, it caters to those seeking a versatile SUV for both urban and outdoor adventures. While not aiming to compete with hardcore off-road vehicles, it strikes a balance between on-road comfort and off-road competence.

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition Features:

  • 3.5L Direct-Injection V6 Engine

  • Intelligent 4x4 with Seven Drive and Terrain Modes

  • 284 Horsepower (295 on Premium Fuel)

  • 259 lb-ft of Torque (270 on Premium Fuel)

  • 9-Speed Automatic Transmission

  • Tubular Roof Rack

  • Unique Front Facias

  • 5/8" Lifted Ride Height over Other Trims

  • 18-inch Beadlock Style Wheels

  • 265/60R18 Toyo Open Country All-Terrain Tires

  • Off-Road Intelligent Around View Monitor Camera System

  • Seating for up to 7

  • Leatherette Seats

  • Heated Front Seats

  • 10-Way Power Driver’s Seat with 2-way Lumbar

  • 4-Way Manual Front Passenger Seat

  • EZ FLEX Second Row Seats with One-Touch Release

  • Tri-zone Automatic Climate Control with Rear Ceiling-mounted Vents

  • ProPilot Assist

  • 16.6 Cubic Feet of Storage Behind 3rd Row

  • 45.0 Cubic Feet of Storage Behind 2nd Row

  • 80.5 Cubic Feet of Storage with the 2nd Row Folded

  • Up to 6,000 lbs of Towing Capacity

  • 8-inch Color Touchscreen Infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

  • Proximity Key with Push Button Start

  • EPA Fuel Economy 20/23/21 (city/hwy/combined)

  • Starting MSRP $42,820

  • Price as tested: $45,250

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