Base pricing for the new Pathfinder starts at $43,998 in Canada, $33,680 in the US.
The new 5th generation Pathfinder is a proper return to its roots.
A new transmission and decent styling are all it really needed.
The Nissan Pathfinder was, until the 4th generation, one of North America’s premier midsize SUV options. It had developed a reputation for rugged capabilities, decent to good reliability, and was loaded with character. In my possibly harsh opinion, Nissan threw all of this away in 2012. Thankfully, the new 2022 Pathfinder picks up where they off a decade ago.
It’s not all-new but…
I was generous in saying that the 2022 Pathfinder is “all-new.” I suppose my enthusiasm allowed me to overlook the fact that the new SUV is still assembled on the same platform as previous. The first reason why I made the “mistake” comes from its looks. The new 5th generation Pathfinder trades the previous SUV’s bloated jellybean styling for more chiseled lines and boxier proportions. I’m well aware the old SUV sold extremely well but its looks never sat well with me. That may have been influenced by the fact that the then-new Nissan SUV was dropping its body-on-frame construction (for the 2nd time) and adopting a CVT.
Another reason why the “all-new” slipped out is based on drivability. The new Pathfinder is far more refined, comfortable, and stable than the outgoing model thanks to its revised suspension. And thirdly, the damned CVT is gone. I shouldn’t be forgiven as I’m expected to know the subject matter but sometimes passion clouds the mind.
Roomier better-appointed cabin
Size-wise, the new Pathfinder is marginally wider than the old but in all other metrics, it’s about identical. Even so, its presence and footprint are more imposing and, concretely, the SUV looks more like an SUV should rather than a poorly designed minivan.
On board, the changes are also considerable. The biggest improvements are made upfront with a well laid-out dashboard and in the rear with more room for third-row passengers. Fit, finish, and materials are better than expected – there seems to be a level of attention brought to the SUV that was once missing.
The Pathfinder’s new IP is very Nissan meaning good ergonomics take precedence over styling. In other words, function trumps form. Even so, the look is premium and the level kit, even in the lower S version is complete as it includes an 8-inch touchscreen, a 7-inch digital cluster readout, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and much more. Further up the trim ladder, the displays grow to 9 and 12.3 inches respectively.
Seating in all three rows is good. The third is roomier than the previous but still best suited to kids. The second row, especially in the tested Platinum trim with the second captain seats, is roomy and comfortable. The bucket seats are multi-way adjustable and generously sized. The first row offers plenty of storage and space.
ZF 9A FTW
I’ve already noted that the continuously variable transmission is gone. This “eureka” moment introduces a 9-speed transmission in its stead. The 3.5-litre V6 returns from the old with 284 horsepower and 259 lb.-ft. of torque but gains a new lease on life thanks to the transmission. The autobox glides from gear to gear and overall, the powertrain meets wants and needs all the while returning decent fuel efficiency. I will complain mildly about the laggy throttle response which needs to be worked around.
Otherwise, the driving experience is extremely satisfying. Also, as I mentioned, the new 2022 Pathfinder is more refined as well as surefooted. Unlike the 4th generation SUV, I enjoyed spending time behind the wheel. Steering feel is reassuring, and brakes are up to the task of hauling kids and gear from school to the grocery store and back.
At highway speeds and in town, the Pathfinder’s cabin remains quiet, nicely matching the SUV’s comfortable ride. Only over rougher road surfaces is serenity disrupted, and this, with the Platinum’s standard 20-inch wheels. The lower versions roll on 18-inch wheels and tires which surely better absorb road irregularities.
A Top 5 contender
Out of almost nowhere, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder has gone from being dismissed to nudging up against the Toyota Highlander, Mazda CX-9, and Subaru Ascent as one of the better options in the segment. I remain a not-quite-closeted fan of the Dodge Durango but against the GM triplets and the Ford Explorer, the Pathfinder is a better bet.
The $50,598 SL is the wisest choice. With the power liftgate, leather seats, the 9-inch display, ProPILOT Assist with Navi-link, among many other features, it’s got everything that is truly worth the money.