2021 Nissan Pathfinder: A More Rugged Family Hauler
Updated: Jun 23
The Nissan Pathfinder has been with us for nearly my entire lifetime, debuting as a 1987 model, the first through third generations of the vehicle were rugged, body-on-frame units with Nissan Hardbody DNA baked right in. However, in 2013 Nissan gave in to increasing demand for fuel economy, ride comfort, and interior space and gave us the first crossover Pathfinder. This new 2022 model rides on the same unibody frame but with more rugged looks borrowed from the smaller 2021 Rogue and larger Armada.
I personally love the new design direction Nissan is applying to its models. In fact, I would say they are some of the best looking in each segment. This is high praise as I once described the brand's styling as 3/4 perfect. Past designs would get about 75% of the car's design just right and phone it in on the last 25%. Take the outgoing 370Z for example. I would say that was an all-around beautiful car...until you got to its bulbus rear end that was large and without definition. We all know how sad an undefined butt can make you. The same could be said of the current Maxima sedan, wide stance, strong shoulders, weird backside.
With the new 2021 Rogue and Armada, and now the 2022 Pathfinder, I feel Nissan has found a design that works for the brand, and even though this Pathfinder rides on a modified version of the old platform, this 2022 model should attract more buyers to showrooms verses the bland version it replaces when it goes on sale this summer.
"Thirty-five years after the launch of the original model, Pathfinder has returned to its rugged roots, loaded with the benefit of everything learned along the way," said Jared Haslam, vice president, Product and Services Planning, Nissan North America. "Today's large SUV owners want a vehicle that conveys strength and rugged capability, while using advanced safety and technology features to keep their family safe and comfortable during every-day adventures, and the all-new 2022 Pathfinder is ready to take on those adventures."
Designers gave the new Pathfinder a bold face to convey its size and strength. Paired with larger tires and chiseled lines, this rig looks more rugged than before. The new, bold V-motion grille with the three slots pays homage to the original Pathfinder, C-shaped headlights and a floating roofline point to the design tastes of today. Standard LED headlights include slim upper Daytime Running Lights, and the C-pillar has a structural SUV look that allows use of two-tone paint – a first for Pathfinder.
The rear of this rig really emphasizes its width, with slim, wide-aspect LED taillights and the oversized "PATHFINDER" emblazed across the back in satin chrome. Paired with the boxed out liftgate, these elements show the boldness of the first Pathfinder's design. A total of 14 colors/color combinations are offered, including five new two-tone treatments carefully designed to integrate into the overall design. New two-tone Scarlet Ember with Super Black Metallic brings a high-energy feel and is similar to the iconic bright red color of the original Pathfinder, while new Obsidian Green Pearl is a solid dark green with a hint of pearl.
One of the main highlights of the new 2022 Pathfinder is the demise of the previous generation's continuously variable transmission, or CVT. Known for their "rubber band like" feel, CVTs are great for efficiency, but not for driving fun. Replacing the old CVT is the new 9-speed automatic also found in the 2022 Frontier released at the same time. This transmission is paired to the carryover 284-horsepower 3.5-liter Direct Injection V6 with 259 lb-ft of torque. We will be sure to let you know how this new transmission helps or hurts the carryover engine when we get behind the wheel of one ourselves.
Pathfinder 4WD drive models feature Nissan's all-new Intelligent 4WD with 7-position Drive and Terrain Mode Selector. The 4WD system features direct coupling, which allows torque transfer directly on the clutch pack using oil pressure, allowing for confident, immediate take-off in low-traction situations. Mode selection – Standard, Sport, Eco, Snow, Sand, Mud/Rut and Tow – is displayed as a pop-up notification on the meter cluster.
A new dual-pinion electric power steering system combined with wide, 255-mm tires provide stable handling with a sporty feel. Stability and confidence is bolstered by Pathfinder's front strut and rear independent multi-link suspension design with front and rear stabilizer bars and 4-wheel disc brake system
The all-new 2022 Pathfinder features best-in-class available 6,000-pound maximum towing capacity – plenty for towing boats, ATVs, camp tents or trailers. Trailer Sway Control is standard.
Room for the Whole Family
This is a family hauler and Nissan made sure there was enough room for everyone and their gear, with room for up to 8 passengers and improved cargo capacity over the outgoing model.
A first for the Pathfinder, the middle row features available 2nd row captain's chairs with a no-tools-required removable center console. The 2nd row bench seat now offers EZ FLEX® one-touch release fold/side with push button activation from both the driver and passenger sides, making life easy for parents and backseat passengers. The 60/40 split folding 3rd row seat provides maximum flexibility for carrying passengers and cargo. Speaking of cargo, Nissan designed the rear to accommodate a 120-quart cooler or four golf bags with all three rows in the upright position, it can even carry 4x8 sheets of plywood behind the front row with the rear two rows folded.
The driver and front passenger are greeted by Nissan's new corporate SUV interior, similar to the 2021 Rogue, complete with flat-bottom steering wheel and new electronic shifter. Behind that wheel is a new, available 12.3-inch digital dashboard provides the driver with a variety of easy-to-navigate screen options. Complementing the digital dashboard is an available 10.8-inch Head-up Display. New to Pathfinder, the Head-Up Display enables the driver to view preferred content such as turn-by-turn directions while staying focused on the road.
An available 9.0-inch color touchscreen center display is placed high on the instrument panel, providing easy visibility and accessibility for the driver and front passenger. Interlocking side vents and door finishers provide a solid structural appearance, and with the use of a new electronic shifter, the new "bridge" front center console allows extra storage space underneath.
Woven cloth, leather- or premium quilted semi-aniline leather-appointed seats are offered in a range of new colors and materials. Brushed bronze metallic accents are among the seven available interior "environments," while new ambient interior lighting adds an even higher level of ambiance.
Interior quietness has been greatly improved, with acoustic laminated front glass, thicker 2nd row glass, increased door and floor isolation, and a 60 percent increase in engine noise absorption.
Available interior features include a 10-way power driver's seat, climate controlled front seats, Tri-Zone Automatic Temperature Control with 2nd row climate control, and heated rear seats.
Lets Talk Tech
NissanConnect® featuring Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ is standard on all Pathfinder trims. Also available is NissanConnect® with WiFi Hot Spot, a wireless smartphone charging pad, wireless Apple CarPlay®, Bose® Premium Audio with 13 speakers, NissanConnect® Services powered by SiriusXM®, Nissan Door-to-Door Navigation, and Intelligent Around View® Monitor, which features a higher resolution and wider image viewing angle than the previous model.
For the first time ever, the 2022 Pathfinder SV and SL grades offer Nissan's innovative ProPILOT Assist, a hands-on, driver-assist technology that reduces the hassle of stop-and-go highway driving and makes long drives on the open highway easier. ProPILOT Assist combines steering assist and Intelligent Cruise Control to help control acceleration, braking and steering in both heavy traffic and on the open highway. We tested this feature out when we drove the 2021 Rogue last fall.
Pathfinder Platinum trim adds the new ProPILOT Assist with Navi-link, which was recently introduced on the all-new 2021 Nissan Rogue. By linking ProPILOT Assist with Nissan's advanced Door-to-Door Navigation System, the navigation map data can proactively reduce speed for upcoming freeway curves or junctions and also help the driver slow for freeway exits.
Every 2022 Pathfinder comes equipped with Nissan Safety Shield® 360, which includes Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and Rear Automatic Braking. Class-exclusive Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Driver Alertness and Rear Door Alert are also standard, while Blind Spot Intervention, Intelligent Lane Intervention and Traffic Sign Recognition are available. Ten airbags are standard.
The all-new 2022 Pathfinder is offered in 2WD and 4WD and in four well-equipped trim levels – S, SV, SL and Platinum. Two packages – SV Premium and SL Premium – are available. Additional details will be available closer to the vehicle's summer 2021 on-sale date.
What do you think, is this the right combination of sophistication and ruggedness?