Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition 3-Row SUV Is Built for Adventuring Families

The Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition 3 row SUV is a great fit for families with an appetite for adventure but also need space to haul gear and appreciate interior versatility.

Notice The Tubular Roof Rack On The Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition
Notice the tubular roof rack on the Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Hello, mud season.

When it comes to family SUVs like the Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition, some things are non-negotiable: all-weather floor mats. Easy to clean seats that slide and tilt with the push of a button. A third row that’s easy to get in and out of. Lots (and lots) of cup holders.

Add to that a surround view camera so you can see everyone and everything around you. Lots of storage and storage areas. Air vents for everyone. And a great sound system so you can drown out the cries as you leave the campground … er, Disney World … parking lot.

Related: Getting Muddy at Mudfest with a Bunch of SUVs

The Front Seat In The Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition

The front seat in the Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Rock Creek Edition Outfits Pathfinder For Adventure

And, then, there’s the need for adventure: All wheel drive. Drive modes that manage any terrain. Roof rails for things like luggage, skis and kayaks. All terrain tires, cladding that protects the car’s paint from rocks and brush, and a higher ground clearance so that off-road trails are fun and easy. Lots of tow capacity. And did I mention easy to clean seats and floor mats (which are a $235 option, but really, a pittance compared to the cost of carpet replacement)? 

This is the idea behind the Rock Creek Edition of the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder, which, priced at about $45,000, is a great option for busy families who love adventure. And at that price you get a nice edit of features that focus on the things you need, and not what you don’t. 

Center Row Captains Chairs, All Weather Mats And A Flat Rear Floor In The Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition

Center row captains chairs, all weather mats and a flat rear floor in the Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Who This Car is For

  • Families
  • Adventurers who appreciate lots of flexible space
  • Drivers who need AWD, multiple drive modes and all terrain tires
  • Buyers who value capability over luxury 
  • Buyers who will also appreciate a nice edit of conveniences 
  • Families who love adventure
  • Buyers who need three rows of seating
  • Buyers who tow

What We Loved

  • An easy-to-remove center row console
  • Rear seat air vents in the center and side pillars
  • Center row captains chairs are standard
  • Cup holders AND bottle pockets in rear doors
  • Rear seat reminder
  • Those (optional) all weather mats
  • Tubular roof rails that hold up to 200 lbs.
  • 6,000 lbs of tow capacity
  • Surround view camera with off road mode
  • Push button slide and tilt center seats
  • Under floor storage in the cargo area
  • Adventure-enabling features such as AWD, all terrain tires, lower cladding and all terrain drive modes
  • The adventure-inspired styling of the Rock Creek Edition
16 Cubic Feet Of Cargo Space Behind The Third Row Is Pretty Roomy

16 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row is pretty roomy. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Why Families will Appreciate the Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition 

There are a lot of family-friendly features, especially for those with kids in car seats. It starts with the surround view camera, which has ‘off road mode’ but really, is great for seeing bikes, skateboards and potentially, small people who might be around your the car when you put it in gear. 

Then, second and third row air vents are very good: there are vents on both the rear of the front seat console and in the door pillars for center row passengers, and ceiling air vents in the third row, so if you have little ones in car seats, there’s plenty of air to keep them cool. 

The center row seats slide forward and back, and they can slide and tilt forward by pushing the button on the side of the seat or on the seat back. This is great if you have a forward facing child passenger car seat installed with LATCH anchors; you don’t have to remove the seat to get into the rear, just push the button.

The rear floor is flat, making getting in and out of the center and third row easy, and it’s a great place to put a backpack or other gear. 

There are 3 LATCH sets—lower anchor and top tethers for child passenger car seats: two in the center captains chairs and one set in the third row behind the driver’s seat.

And then, the removable center console between the two center row seats. This is so good. It pops out easily — just pull the panel off the front of the console, pull the lever and it pops out. It’s lightweight and not cumbersome to remove. I know, I did it a few times, which you can see in the video. It can stow in the rear cargo area, or leave it at home (unfortunately it’s just a shade to large to fit in the underfloor cargo area, which is too bad; hopefully that will be a design goal for the future). This makes third row access easy, and passengers with longer legs, the center seat will be relatively comfortable with the console removed. 

Cargo space is adequate behind the third row, which splits 60/40 for added flexibility with stuff-hauling.

Related: Living (and Riding) Large in the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder

I Loved This Open Storage Space Under The Center Console In The Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition

I loved this open storage space under the center console in the Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Nicely Flexible Interior Space

This may be what I liked the most about the Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition: The flexible space. 

In addition to the removable center console, the slide and tilt center row seats can be adjusted for more legroom in the third row, which may be necessary if you have third row passengers. The cabin isn’t overly large, so getting the right configuration is important. 

Third row seats recline and have are 60/40 folding; they also fold flat for extra space. It’s nice to not have a hump in the middle of the car to deal with when you’re trying to load in your mom’s antique etagere. 

There is under-floor storage in the cargo area that is great for things you need to keep in the car. There is a storage spot under the front center console, a storage shelf in front of the front passenger seat and a nice phone cubby under the climate control panel. 

The Center Console In The Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition

The center console in the Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What You Need to Know 

  • Three complete child passenger car seat LATCH systems: two in the center row captains chairs, one on the drivers side in the third row 
  • No 3rd row USB ports
  • No center row bench option
  • Seats 7 passengers but more comfortable for 5 or 6
  • Cargo space is 16.6 cubic feet behind 3rd row, 45 cubic feet behind 2nd row 
  • Luxuries like a panoramic sunroof, rear seat entertainment, wireless phone charger and Apple CarPlay and a household outlet are not available
  • Averages about 22 MPG and uses regular fuel
The Rear End Of The Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition

The rear end of the Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What the Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition, Costs

  • S entry level model with a V6 engine generating 284 HP, front wheel drive and cloth upholstery starts at $35,200
  • SV FWD edition starts at $38,020
  • SV FWD edition starts at $41,620
  • Add all wheel drive to the S, SV and SL model, $1,900
  • Rock Creek Edition increases engine power to 295 HP and has all terrain tires black roof rack, surround view camera with off-road mode, Rock Creek leatherette and waterproof cloth seating, folding captains chairs, 6,000 lbs. tow capacity and ProPilot Assist driver assistance system with forward collision warning, emergency braking, lane departure warning and intervention, blind spot detection and intervention, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear sensors, hill start assist, hill descent control, automatic brake hold, and traffic sign recognition, starts at $42,820. The price of our test model with upgraded paint ($790), floor mats and cargo liner ($345) and destination charge ($1,295): $45,250.
Notice The Tubular Roof Rack On The Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition

Notice the tubular roof rack on the Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Driving the Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition

Let me just say: it’s awesome. There’s nothing like a large SUV to make you feel powerful and capable. And Pathfinder does not disappoint. Its slightly increased power — 295HP and 270 torque, vs 284 HP and 259 torque— over other Pathfinder models is a nice bonus; it accelerates easily due to the added torque and has plenty of power for wherever you’ll take it.  It was easy to drive and park, commanded the road well and ProPilot Assist has your back—and sides and front. It feels truck-worthy, but not overly so; it demands a bit of muscle but not a lot. And the visibility is great, something that we love and expect from a full size SUV.

Priced at just about $45K and with all the minimum necessities for families, the Pathfinder is a great option for those who need what they need for weekday kid-patrol and weekend adventures. 

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss