37 years, kids, families and millions of miles traveled and it’s in the best shape of its life.
I feel like the Nissan Pathfinder and I have a lot in common. We started out muscular and adventurous. Then we had kids, and we got well, a little soft and boring.
But the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is like the modern mom coming out of lockdown with a buff new body, ready for adventure, but still with kids in tow. And with a starting price of $33,410, you can’t beat the affordability. Not sure I’ve ever related to a car more.
When the Pathfinder was introduced in 1985, it was rugged and ready for action. Basically, a pick-up truck with a closed top, front tow hooks, and no nonsense. Over time it lost it took on more tasks, doing more for more people. I feel you Pathfinder, I do. It was sort a minivan alternative without sliding doors. It’s OK, Pathfinder; many of us gave up and wore our fat pants everywhere.
- The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder was completely redesigned from the ground up, and it looks gorgeous.
- The new body is wider, higher, and more muscular.
- The two-tone color packages are modern and sexy.
- It has larger tires for off-roading—and just looking cool.
- The transmission is more responsive.
- It can tow more than ever before.
- The ride is smoother than previous Pathfinders.
- It has tons of hidden storage options for purses, toys, snacks, and goodies.
- Best of all: the Pathfinder offers tons of features that aren’t available on the competition, like the Kia Telluride, the Ford Explorer, or the Toyota Highlander—and it does it at a better price point.
How it Handled
The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder feels more like a truck even though it’s not built like one. It’s rugged but comfortable, and it has a big presence like a truck does without feeling like you can’t control it.
The seats are wide and generous enough that even big guys will be comfortable. The steering wheel is flat on the bottom, a great feature for the height challenged. I like to raise my seat up so I can comfortably see over the hood, which sometimes means I have a steering wheel jammed in my lap. They lowered the frame so taking corners didn’t have as much of a “throw to you to the side” feel—for those of us who take corners quickly.
Braking quickly is the most important thing to me when driving. Kids and dogs run out in front of you, people stop suddenly. Driving a big heavy SUV means braking can take longer, but the Pathfinder handles sudden braking masterfully.
The new 2022 Pathfinder is also lighter than you would expect, so it brakes more quickly. I (safely) sped up on the side roads and jammed on the brakes. It stopped on a dime in every condition except gravel. On wet roads, the brakes didn’t even shudder, and more importantly, didn’t lock up.
Masterful Off The Road Too… Because Pavement Isn’t Always an Option
I also took the Pathfinder off-roading in deep and slippery mud. When the wheels slipped I was able to steer into the skid and immediately felt the power transfer to the rear tires as the car grabbed the earth and we kept going. I say “we” because I took a Nissan exec with me who was told “don’t let her get it stuck.” Afterward he commented that obviously been trained for those conditions. I told him I had never been off-roading. The look on his face was priceless. Some people don’t understand that often moms are off-roading in daily life. When we have to pull off a snowy highway so someone can puke because they were playing video games in the third row or when we’re the soccer mom who hauls the goals across a sloppy, muddy messy field. He did give me an amazing life quote: “you have to lose traction to get traction.” I liked this guy.
Technology: The Key to Life for Family SUVs
There’s a lot of technology on the new Pathfinder. I liked the big screens, the multiple USB ports (one for every passenger!) and even a household plug. I do wish that the navigation screen or driver information screen featured a cardinal direction indicator, that little compass that continually points north. That’s it. The nav screen didn’t display the direction we were driving and as someone who navigates with the ocean at her side, it can be easy to lose your sense of direction, which can be thrown off, even with turn by turn directions. But if that’s my only complaint, then, well done Nissan.
Some of the other awesome technology features include:
- Nissan ProPilot with Navi-Link, which is an enhanced driver assistance system that uses map data to help better predict road conditions and increase your comfort. It also helps keep you in your lane, brake more smoothly, and make safe turns.
- NissanConnect, which is an app that lets you do things like start the car remotely, communicate with people via social media without taking your hands off the wheel, and navigate safely.
- A customizable head-up display (typically a luxury feature) and infotainment system that will let you pick the information you see while you’re on the road.
The Pathfinder is available in four trim levels, from capable to plush:
- S (4WD/2WD): $35,310/$33,410 — Includes Nissan’s standard suite of safety features, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 3.5-liter V6
- SV (4WD/2WD): $38,100/$36,200 — Includes ProPILOT driver assistance features, Nissan’s connectivity services, WiFi hotspot
- SL (4WD/2WD): $41,490/$39,590 — 9-inch touchscreen, surround-car monitor, wireless Apple CarPlay
- Platinum (4WD/2WD): $48,090/$46,190 — 12.3-inch digital display, 10.8-inch head up display, wireless charging pad
There are also a few packages you can purchase:
- SV Premium adds $2,170: panoramic moonroof, power liftgate, towing features, 2nd row captain’s chairs, 2nd row easy-remove center console
- SL Premium adds $2,900: panoramic moonroof, 20-inch alloy wheels, towing features, BOSE premium sound system, 2nd row captain’s chairs, 2nd row easy-remove center console, wireless charging pad
The Specs to Know
- 3.5-liter V6 engine with 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque
- A new, ultra-responsive transmission
- Max towing capacity of 6,000 lbs, which will tow most RVs
- 7 drive modes: standard, eco, sport, snow, sand, mud/rut, and tow
- 16.6 cubic feet of cargo space with all rows upright; 80.5 cubic feet cargo space when all seats are folded
- Fuel economy changes based on trim: 2WD gets 21 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, 21 mpg combined. 4WD in S, SV, and SL trims gets 21 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, 23 mpg combined. The Platinum-trim 4WD gets 20 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, 22 mpg combined.
- Standard safety features: forward collision warning, driver alert systems, rear door alert, rear sonar, auto headlights, easy-fill tires.
- Available safety features: blind spot assistance, intelligent lane intervention, traffic sign recognition
10 Things to Love About the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder
- Looks like it was made for rugged adventurers, but really, made to empower every driver
- Buyers can opt for second row captain’s chairs like larger, more expensive SUVs
- Has 16 beverage holders and it has USB chargers for both the second and third rows, plus an optional wireless phone charging pad for the driver.
- It doesn’t just look like it can off-road, it actually can off-road with seven different drive modes.
- The new two-tone color combinations are modern, sexy and very much not minivan-ish
- The second row captain’s chairs pitch forward with the click of a button to allow easy access to the third row.
- The second row seat can still pitch forward even with a car seat installed (doesn’t work with a child in car seat for the obvious reasons)—and you can install three car seats in a row.
- The key remote can unlock all the doors with the click of a button, not just the driver’s door. This is a game changing feature for parents.
- There is ample under floor storage behind the third row with a lid that stays up on its own while you load your storage. If you know, you know.
- There’s a storage console between the second row captain’s seats that can be removed and re-installed in 30 seconds. Trust me, we did it.
I’m glad I had the chance to drive the new Pathfinder in Montana, and lucky for me it snowed while I was there. The worst conditions I’ve ever driven my children in have been winter mountain conditions. Slippery roads, low visibility, lots of slush and deep mud that can get you stuck. So, I really got to put the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder to the test to see how it could handle all situations. And it was impressive. Proving that yes, after 37 years and all those miles, you can really be in the best shape of your life.
If the 2022 Pathfinder had existed when I bought my Cadillac Escalade a decade ago I would have chosen the Pathfinder. It’s true – captains chairs NOT in a minivan matter, and I would have saved $30,000.
Disclosure: I was Nissan’s guest for this test drive; travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.