12 Best Family Cars: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder
A repeat winner in our annual Best Family Car competition, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder moves from strength to even greater strength thanks to a comprehensive mid-cycle redesign. This 3-row midsize SUV now boasts a bolder, more contemporary appearance complemented by an engine upgrade that brings extra power and even better overall performance. Equally important, this versatile Nissan also gains an enhanced suite of safety/driver-assist features that add a greater degree of confidence and security no matter where your travels lead. What hasn’t changed in the transition is the Pathfinder’s exceptional combination of real-world comfort, accommodation and capability, key factors that ensured it retained a spot on our list of best family vehicles.
Playing a great inside game
One of the most critical factors when considering a family-focused vehicle is its ability to please the people it carries. The Pathfinder scores high marks in that area thanks to a well turned-out and invitingly roomy cabin that’s designed to facilitate quick, convenient transitions. Arguably the most notable feature on that front is Nissan’s benchmark EZ Flex and Glide System. Standard on every model, it allows a child seat latched to either the Pathfinder’s second-row split-bench or captain’s chairs to remain in place when they’re slid forward, greatly assisting access to the third-row bench.
While the Pathfinder’s seat count does max out at seven and not eight like the Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander, its second row has one more trick in its tracks thanks to 5.3 inches of fore-aft travel. That adjustability can make life far better for anyone occupying its somewhat modestly scaled innermost seating tier. Like any first-rate SUV, the Pathfinder’s aft seats all fold flat to expand the basic 16.0 cu ft of cargo space into an extremely usable 79.8 cu ft mini-cave. New this year, SL and Premium versions of this Nissan hauler add a motion-activated power liftgate to their lengthy roster of standards, a list that also includes a class-exclusive 360-degree Around View monitor system. But even the Pathfinder S and SV have tri-zone climate control, an 8.0-inch color touchscreen infotainment display for the Nissan Connect with Voice Recognition system, a second USB port and a newly upgraded Advanced Drive-Assist Display in the main instrument cluster.
More power to please
There’s good news underhood, as well. Nissan’s award-winning 3.5-liter V6 common to all Pathfinder variants has undergone a major redesign and gains a new, more efficient direct fuel injection system that helps boost horsepower from 260 to 284 and raise peak torque from 240 to 256 lb-ft. Whether front-drive or fitted with All-Mode 4x4-i intelligent AWD, the engine is backed by Nissan’s Xtronic CVT transmission with logic that can simulate seven “virtual gears” like a conventional automatic. That combo enables the 2017 Pathfinder to deliver quicker acceleration and stronger passing performance while maintaining its existing EPA fuel economy ratings. As an added bonus, the maximum towing capacity of a properly equipped Pathfinder has risen to a best-in-class 6,000 pounds – 1,000 more than in 2016.
A dynamic driving experience
The Pathfinder has a well-deserved reputation for solid handling, and Nissan used this opportunity to further burnish that enviable status. The key change involves revised spring rates that improve roll control when you’re cornering and further limiting pitch and bounce motions on rough paved surfaces or while off-roading. Last but far from least, with its robust core structure and available driver assists that include Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Forward Emergency Braking, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder also earns top marks in passenger protection from both NHTSA and IIHS.
More 2017 Nissan Pathfinder
To learn more about the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder, you can read our full review. If you’re ready to take the next step, build and price your own Pathfinder to unlock its Fair Purchase Price, 5-Year Cost to Own and more. And if you want to see everything the segment has to over, head over to our Midsize SUV Buyer's Guide.