Seat comfort is good, but we’re still not seeing the “magic” of the so-called Zero Gravity Seats. They just feel like seats — no better or worse than any others, really (except, perhaps, for the aforementioned Explorer, which has seat bottoms that feel too short). There’s noticeably plentiful passenger space, however, with tons of room up front or in the sliding second row, both for width and legroom. The third row in many three-row SUVs is often best used only for children, with a few notable exceptions (like the Volkswagen Atlas and Hyundai Palisade). The additional width that comes with the new 2022 Pathfinder makes the third row here a usable size for adults, as well, especially given the second row’s sliding ability, allowing for passengers in the second and third rows to negotiate available legroom among themselves. Third-row ingress and egress is easy, too, thanks to Nissan’s one-touch EZ Flex Latch and Glide button that slides and tilts the second row, even with child-safety seats attached.
The updated interior electronics are welcome, with an available 9.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system that’s located high on the dash for easy visibility and use. It’s accompanied by an available 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster that provides all sorts of information, some more useful than others, and two different configurations that look slick. There’s also an available 10.8-inch head-up display that puts all the relevant information up in the driver’s sight line but features an oddly offset speedometer readout. Still, everything is clear and easy to read, and after some experimentation with configurations and settings, you’re sure to find a setup that provides all the information you want without having to hunt through menus. As with most new vehicles these days, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, and Wi-Fi connectivity with wireless charging is available.
About That Ruggedness …
Nissan felt it important to demonstrate that the new Pathfinder is a capable off-roader, as the changes made to amp up its rugged image are more than just cosmetic. That’s why the company booked some time at Holly Oaks ORV Park north of Detroit for a brief romp through the dirt and mud to show off the Pathfinder’s terrain select function.
2022 Nissan Pathfinder | Cars.com photo by Leslie Cunningham
Rotating the selector through the options to the Mud and Ruts function changes a host of vehicle attributes, while a quick push of the central button engages the automatic hill descent control. And with that, the Pathfinder was off to tackle terrain that it’s unlikely to see in the hands of typical buyers — loose gravel ascents, steep and slippery slopes — which it did without complaint or difficulty, it must be said. We didn’t do any serious rock crawling, but let’s be honest here: Despite the Pathfinder’s looks, this is not a proper off-road machine. It does feature a new clutch that allows for predictive all-wheel drive (no longer waiting for front-wheel slip to be detected before engaging the rears, the computer makes the call before that happens now), but the all-season tires, lack of underbody skid plate protection and no locking transfer case mean this is still a soft-roader, and that’s perfectly fine. You can option up a Pathfinder with accessories that make it a bit more capable, but anyone serious about going further off-road is likely looking at a Nissan Titan pickup in Pro-4X trim instead. Suffice it to say that the Pathfinder will handle rutted dirt roads and family off-grid camping duty just fine thanks to its softer suspension, but you’re not likely to ever see one out overlanding across the Arizona desert.
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Simplified Ordering and Pricing
Nissan has kept the trim levels and pricing for the new Pathfinder simple with four trim levels. Two option packages are available, as well, so finding a Pathfinder that has a specific option you want (like the panoramic moonroof or leather interior) means finding the required trim level. The starting price is $34,560 for a front-wheel-drive S trim, which is roughly $1,400 more than the outgoing 2020 Pathfinder, while a Platinum 4WD rings in at just less than $50,000. That’s a healthy jump over the outgoing model, but it does reflect considerable added standard equipment, the most important of which might be the updated Nissan Safety Shield 360 system that brings automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot warning, high-beam assist and class exclusive rear automatic braking — that last one being a key feature for a family car, where kids may be running around the vehicle. The Pathfinder also features a driver alertness sensor, rear door alert and rear sonar as standard, with blind spot intervention, lane intervention and traffic sign recognition as optional. Nissan’s latest ProPilot Assist cruise control is also available, which helps steer the vehicle on the highway but doesn’t let you remove your hands from the steering wheel, unlike GM’s Super Cruise system.
So in the end, yes, the new Pathfinder is indeed a bit more rugged and a bit more capable off-road. But honestly, I think the areas that will matter more to its intended buyers are the better interior space, top-notch connectivity, smooth and quiet ride, and its ability to be an even more comfortable and capable family vehicle. The trend toward being more outdoorsy after enduring pandemic lockdowns will match well with the Pathfinder’s new image and abilities, but it’s good to know Nissan hasn’t sacrificed the aforementioned areas in which the Pathfinder needed to be good in favor of new areas where it really didn’t need to go at all.
Related Video: 2022 Nissan Pathfinder: First Drive
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