By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 8.5
With its rough and rugged off-roading ways in the past, the latest-generation Nissan Pathfinder is a sensible, economical and versatile family vehicle. Now based on a sedan-like platform vs. a truck chassis, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder crossover SUV is more comfortable and more efficient than past iterations. Now in its 30th year, the Pathfinder becomes more appealing for 2017 with a freshening that grants more power and safety features. The Pathfinder competes well against other 3-row midsize SUVs like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Chevrolet Traverse, but at seven passengers max the Nissan holds one less than those rivals. That factor aside, the Pathfinder remains a roomy, easy-to-drive family SUV that still boasts light off-road chops and the ability to tow 6,000 pounds.
If you're looking for a 7-passenger SUV with easy access to the third row, sedan-like driving manners and a strong V6 engine, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder is a smart choice. New conveniences and active safety features like automatic emergency braking make this year's model more alluring.
KBB Expert Ratings
The Pathfinder receives significant revisions for 2017 that include a new front hood and fascia, more power, higher towing capacity, and conveniences like a motion-activated power tailgate. New safety and driving aids include forward emergency braking and active cruise control.
If you want a 3-row SUV that focuses more on refinement and sedan-like handling, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder deserves a spot at the top of your shopping list. Thanks to...
... its unit body, the 7-passenger Pathfinder can accommodate a modern suspension that returns a smooth ride. As with many Nissans, the Pathfinder uses a continuously variable transmission that for the most part does a good job mimicking a traditional automatic. With an extra 24 horsepower under the hood for a total of 284, the 2017 Pathfinder feels more emboldened and easily gets up to speed. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is the standard setup, while an All-Mode 4x4-i intelligent all-wheel-drive (AWD) system is optional on all trims. The system enhances traction and offers a full-lock setting for use on rough or slippery terrain. Thusly equipped the Pathfinder is capable of light off-roading, and its hill-descent control eases the vehicle down steep slopes.
AROUND VIEW MONITOR
Nissan’s clever Around View monitor places four cameras outside the Pathfinder to create a bird’s-eye 360-degree image, a real help when maneuvering in tight spots. For 2017 it now features moving-object detection, which alerts the driver if the system sees something moving in the vehicle's path while in reverse.
EZ FLEX LATCH & GLIDE SYSTEM
Another innovative Nissan feature, the EZ Flex & Glide System on the 2017 Pathfinder SUV allows a child seat latched in the second row to remain attached when the seats are slid forward, providing access to the third row with less drama.
All Nissan Pathfinders seat seven across three rows, with the second row a 3-person bench and the third row a pair of smaller seats. Legroom is generous in the first two rows, but the last row is tight for adults. Colors are almond or charcoal for either the cloth fabric or leather interiors. For 2017 the Pathfinder gets a redesigned center console, plus a standard 8-inch touch-screen display that controls audio, phone functions and more. Instead of the finicky, all-touch infotainment systems used by others, you can easily tune the Pathfinder’s radio or adjust the volume by twisting a dial.
No longer the squared-off utility vehicle it used to be, the latest-gen Pathfinder is more about windswept curves and rounded edges. Some toughness returns with the Pathfinder's 2017 update, however, thanks to what Nissan dubs a "bold" new front end with V-Motion grille, a new hood, and new front bumper meant to project a wider stance. Roof rails add functionality, and the optional dual-panel moonroof does a great job opening up the cabin, even for 3rd-row passengers. The power-operated tailgate that's standard on higher trims is now motion-activated, meaning it can be opened with the swipe of a foot.
The Pathfinder remains available in four trims: S, SV, SL and Platinum. The least expensive 2017 Pathfinder S model comes with a V6 engine, tri-zone climate control, 8-inch touch-screen display with rearview camera display, push-button ignition, 6-way manual-adjust driver's seat, and 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Thankfully even a base Pathfinder now includes Bluetooth wireless connectivity, plus a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with two USB inputs and HD Radio. In addition to airbags all around and traction- and stability-control systems, one notable safety feature is the Easy Fill Alert that beeps the horn when you fill the tires to the correct air pressure.
Stepping up from Pathfinder S to SV is recommendable for both its standard features and many options. Included are 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat, automatic headlights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear sonar parking assist, while this model is available with navigation, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and 13-speaker Bose audio system. SL models come with the Around View monitor, power tailgate, blind-spot monitoring, leather interior and heated front seats and steering wheel. Top-line Platinum models include intelligent cruise control, forward emergency braking, navigation, panoramic moonroof and 20-inch wheels. A trailer towing package is available on all models except the base S.
The 2017 Nissan Pathfinder SUV continues to come with a 3.5-liter V6. For 2017 it has been reengineered with direct injection and other revisions that make it more powerful yet still fuel-efficient. Horsepower increases 24 to a total of 284, and torque is raised to 259 lb-ft, up from the previous 240. All of this helps the 2017 Pathfinder SUV feel fleeter on its feet and has increased its towing capacity from 5,000 to 6,000 pounds. The standard setup remains front-wheel drive (FWD), with all-wheel drive (AWD) optional on all trims. Even with its more sophisticated engine, the Pathfinder happily runs on regular unleaded gasoline.
284 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
259 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg (FWD), 19/26 mpg (AWD)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 Nissan Pathfinder crossover SUV has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $30,890 for a base S version. Stepping up to the more recommendable Pathfinder SV trim is $33,580. Go full-boat on a loaded, all-wheel-drive Pathfinder Platinum and you can top $46,000. These prices are similar to those of the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and Hyundai Santa Fe. The Pathfinder's starting price undercuts that of the Ford Explorer but is higher than the Kia Sorento. The Dodge Journey and Mitsubishi can also be had for less, but aren't as recommendable. As a smart shopper, you know to first check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for their new Nissan. The Pathfinder's residual value is expected to hold up well but not quite match that of a Toyota Highlander.