Near-premium counterpunch
THE GOOD
  • Handsome new look
  • Roomy and functional interior
  • Human-friendly ergonomics
THE BAD
  • Ride can get choppy on rough surfaces
  • Captain’s chairs only available in top trim

With its comprehensive makeover, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder goes from frumpy to front runner, gaining a modern interior, new transmission, and bolder bodywork.

Here we test the top-tier Platinum AWD trim that carries a sticker price of $56,258 before tax but including its non-negotiable freight charge. That puts this three-row up there with some of the flashiest near-premium offerings in the segment, where it can easily hold its own.

Styling: 9/10

The Pathfinder’s new tougher, upright look plays well to the anti-minivan crowd, enhanced here in Platinum trim by its optional two-tone metallic red paint with black roof. It’s certainly a classy look; my neighbour thought this Nissan was a Land Rover until he spied the huge “PATHFINDER” script stretching the width of its derriere.

Spicing up the visuals are chrome slash sill extensions, tough-guy fender mouldings, and 20-inch wheels. The Pathfinder sports a long hood and bluff snout, and the trio of intakes just below the clamshell hood are a nod to the original body-on-frame models of old.

Safety: 8.5/10

Standard safety kit for the 2022 Pathfinder includes LED head- and taillights, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, rear automatic braking, lane-departure warning, and automatic high-beam headlights. Rain-sensing wipers are also included.

The upper trims get Nissan’s advanced driver-assistance system that’s activated by a button on the steering wheel. It calls up adaptive cruise control and automatic lane-centring, while the system uses camera, radar, and mapping technology to read the road ahead and adjust speed accordingly. This top-trim tester also sported a head-up display and surround-view monitoring, the latter of which was a big help when parking.

Practicality: 8.5/10

The new Pathfinder is a step up from the previous model when it comes to practicality. While it shares the same wheelbase as before, this 2022 version is wider, which pays dividends for rear occupants. The third row is now configured for three, meaning the standard Pathfinder is an eight-passenger vehicle. Yes, legroom is tight back there, but it’s certainly fine for average-sized adults, and there is now a space carved out under the second row to slide your feet.

Accessing this row is made easier by longer rear doors and the one-touch second-row seats that slide and fold forward with the press of a button. The Platinum, the only trim with second-row captain’s chairs, has a removable centre console between said heated, sliding, and reclining chairs.

A hands-free power tailgate is part of the Platinum package. Storage space behind the third row at 470 L is pretty good, helped by the Pathfinder’s new upright architecture. There’s also a spacious and configurable under-floor storage area. Folding the third row down expands the cargo area to 1,274 L, while dropping both the third and second rows allows this crossover’s new-found width to fit a full sheet of plywood. Bonus.

Front cabin storage is well thought out. There’s a generously sized covered cubby between the seats, a nifty slot running under the glove box, and more storage under the floating console.

With a nod to its rugged roots, this new Pathfinder comes with a seven-setting terrain management system – auto, sport, eco, snow, sand, mud/ruts, and tow. Standard with the Platinum is a tow hitch receiver and harness, enabling a segment-leading 2,722-kg (6,000-lb) towing capacity.

User Friendliness: 8/10

We’re giving the 2022 Pathfinder high marks for its new cabin design that not only looks nicely upscale, but is also blessed with a plethora of well-marked buttons and knobs for controlling HVAC and infotainment functions. A tuning knob enables safe and easy station cruising, and the rotary controllers for cabin temperature are flanked with buttons for front seat heating and cooling.

The stubby electronic shift wand works with easy precision and the menu structure of the infotainment system is intuitive. This nine-inch touchscreen boasts large touch points, a row of hard menu buttons below, and is high in the driver’s sightline. Another handy Pathfinder feature is its capless fuel filler.

Features: 8.5/10

Sitting atop the lineup, this Platinum gets all the bells and whistles. The front seats will cool your backside while you’re enjoying the fine 12-speaker audio system, and drivers benefit from a 12.3-inch digital gauge display, head-up display with road sign recognition, and power-adjustable steering wheel.

Interior niceties include semi-aniline leather, ambient lighting, a panoramic sunroof, manual rear side sunshades, six USB ports, and wireless charging pad. The infotainment system sports Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, and integrated navigation.

Power: 7.5/10

The 2022 Pathfinder’s 3.5L naturally aspirated V6 carries forward from the last generation, but the big news here is the nine-speed automatic transmission that replaces the old and soggy CVT (continuously variable transmission). This marks a significant improvement in drivability, as the surging and groaning engine revs get ditched for more positive and crisp cog-swapping.

Overall this nine-speed works well, although it is slow to kick down. Combine this with an engine that produces its power higher in the rev range – 284-hp and 259 lb-ft of torque, to be exact – and calls for quick acceleration can be frustratingly laggy. Once in the correct gear, however, the Pathfinder moves out smartly.

Comfort: 8/10

I did a few lengthy drives in the Pathfinder Platinum, and it proved to be a pleasant long hauler. The 12-way adjustable driver’s seat is well contoured, dishing up plenty of comfort and support, although the front passenger makes do with four-way movable seat with no height adjustment. The second-row captain’s chairs (which are only offered in the Platinum) are almost as comfy, and while not cooled, they slide, recline, and are heated. The HVAC system operated efficiently and quietly.

The Pathfinder’s ride is firmer than some competitors, transmitting a fair bit of road surface information into the interior on less than perfect roads. However, it’s a refined firmness that avoids any crashing, and it delivers decent body control. No doubt, the standard 18-inch wheels (versus these 20-inch ones) would smooth the ride.

Driving Feel: 8/10

For its mission statement of moving plenty of people and/or stuff in relative luxury, the 2022 Pathfinder Platinum is perfectly adequate. The steering, while a bit numb, has good on-centre feel, and that translates to good highway tracking. The handling is predictable and secure for such a big beast, and when not accelerating hard the cabin remains impressively quiet.

Dialling in sport mode nets no perceivable difference in transmission mapping (still slow to kick down), and I didn’t sense any change in throttle response either. There are steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles for the nine-speed auto, which for the most part will remain largely decorative.

Fuel Economy: 8/10

My week of mostly highway and secondary road slogging resulted in an impressive 9.1 L/100 km. Granted, this is not representative of the daily domestic grind. With official numbers of 11.6 L/100 km city, 9.2 highway, and 10.5 combined, the 2022 Pathfinder, on paper at least, is more efficient than the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, and V6-powered Ford Explorer.

Value: 8/10

While the United States gets a front-wheel-drive model, all Canadian Pathfinders are fitted with all-wheel drive. The base S with its fabric interior starts at $45,658. Moving through the SV, SL, and SL Premium, we arrive at this top-tier Platinum at $56,258. This is priced a few hundred dollars less than the Kia Telluride SX Limited that has more power, a bit more interior space, and ventilated second-row seats. The Pathfinder sweet spot looks to be the $52,258 SL that introduces leather, a nine-inch infotainment display, traffic sign recognition, and wireless Apple CarPlay.

The Verdict

Nissan is touting a “Return to Rugged” theme with this fifth-generation Pathfinder, and by all measures it succeeds. The outgoing version was somewhat of a milquetoast – albeit imminently functional – affair, but the game has leaped forward, largely thanks to competitors like the Palisade and Telluride. Now, Nissan has officially countered. The 2022 Pathfinder is a stylish, user-friendly, and capable offering that deserves a close look from those shopping the three-row crossover segment.

Competitors

Specifications

Engine Displacement 3.5L   Model Tested 2022 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum
Engine Cylinders V6   Base Price $54,398
Peak Horsepower 284 hp @ 6,400 rpm   A/C Tax $100
Peak Torque 259 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm   Destination Fee $1,860
Fuel Economy 11.6 / 9.2 / 10.5 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb   Price as Tested $57,308
Cargo Space 470 / 1,274 / 2,279 L behind 3rd/2nd/1st row  
Optional Equipment
$950 – Two-Tone Pearl Metallic Paint, $950