Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Should-you-buyShould You Buy a 2023 Nissan Pathfinder?

Should You Buy a 2023 Nissan Pathfinder?

An uneventful ownership experience. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.


  • The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder starts at $36,295 in the United States and at $48,168 in Canada, freight and delivery charges included.

  • Spacious and comfortable cabin, efficient V6 engine, good towing capacity.

  • Ride on the firm side, front pillars a little too wide, no hybrid powertrain.


The family is expanding or growing quickly, and it’s time for a new ride. A compact utility vehicle would be the logical, sensible choice, but it may be a little tight from a space and versatility standpoint. I three-row midsize crossover, such as the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder, may be a better idea given the circumstances.

The Pathfinder was thoroughly redesigned last year, so it’s still pretty new. A new Rock Creek Edition is now available, sporting a 5/8-inch or 16-millimetre suspension lift, specific 18-inch beadlock-style alloy wheels, all-terrain tires, a tubular roof rack with a load capacity of 220 pounds or 100 kilograms, a darkened front grille with a mesh insert, unique leatherette and fabric seats with embroidered Rock Creek logos, orange contrast interior stitching and a surround view monitor with an off-road mode. Eight paint colours are offered on the Rock Creek Edition in the United States, including the new Baja Storm hue, while Canada only gets three.

The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder keeps the good old naturally aspirated 3.5L V6 engine, which develops 284 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque. If we’re feeling a little generous with the oil companies, we can fuel up with costlier premium unleaded instead, rising output to 295 horsepower and 270 pound-feet. During normal driving, we’re willing to bet nobody will notice those extra ponies. On the flipside, towing capacity is still rated at 6,000 pounds or 2,922 kg, which is above the segment average.

Oddly enough in the U.S., when equipped with AWD, the Pathfinder nets city/highway/combined ratings of 21/27/23 mpg in the U.S., while the FWD Pathfinder’s ratings are 20/27/23 mpg. The Rock Creek Edition’s ratings are 20/23/21 mpg. In Canada, AWD is standard and the fuel ratings are set at 11.6/9.2/10.5 L/100 km (11.9/10.0/11.1 L/100 km for the Rock Creek Edition). During our test while the vehicle was wearing winter tires, we managed an average of 19 miles per gallon or 12.1 L/100 km.

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition

The significant powertrain news is that the previous-generation Pathfinder’s continuously variable automatic transmission has been ditched in favour of a new nine-speed automatic. The CVT did have its fair share of quality issues during the first model years, but improved over time. However, with the nine-speed tranny, Nissan figured out how to lower the crossover’s fuel consumption, if only be a little.

The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder can seat up to eight passengers, or seven for those who opt for the second-row captain’s chairs. There are USB ports and cupholders in each of the three rows as well. Cargo space is rated at 16.6 cubic feet or 470 litres behind the third row, 45.0 cubic feet or 1,274 litres behind the second row and 80.5 cubic feet or 2,421 behind the front seats.

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition

Pricing ranges from $36,295 to $52,505 in the United States, freight and delivery charges included, and from $48,168 to $60,283 in Canada. Competition includes the Chevrolet Traverse, the Honda Pilot, the Volkswagen Atlas, the Hyundai Palisade, the Kia Telluride, the Mazda CX-9, the Subaru Ascent, the Toyota Highlander, the Ford Explorer and the Dodge Durango.


Why You Should Buy a 2023 Nissan Pathfinder

  • Among non-hybrid midsize three-row crossovers, the Pathfinder is one of the most fuel-efficient. Despite boasting a six-cylinder engine while many of its rivals are now packing turbocharged four-cylinder mills.
  • The V6 and nine-speed automatic combo provide a much more satisfying driving experience. Power is more than adequate, and the engine emits a nice growl at wide-open throttle. The 6,000-pound tow capacity is also appreciable.
  • Finally, the Pathfinder’s climate control system works as it should. The previous generation’s system would blow cold air at any setting below 18.5 degrees, and hot air at any setting above 18.5.
  • The theatre-style seating in the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder means everyone can see what’s happening out front. The second-row seat cushions are higher up than before, so passengers no longer sit with their knees near their chins. Figuratively speaking, of course.


Why You Shouldn’t Buy a 2023 Nissan Pathfinder

  • We like the V6 engine’s performance and economy. That being said, a hybrid powertrain would be interesting, although only two direct rivals—the Highlander and the Explorer—offer one at the moment
  • The Pathfinder’s wide front pillars create blind sports big enough to hide pedestrians and other vehicles in busy street intersections.
  • The Nissan crossover’s ride is a little on the firm side, and we’re not strictly talking about the Rock Creek Edition, which is actually better given its mildly lifted suspension. It’s not a dealbreaker, but many rivals are smoother on the road.
  • Interior space is good, but cargo space is average in its segment. Again, it’s not a big deal, but the Honda, the Volkswagen and the Chevrolet are noticeably more cavernous. And if we’re shopping for a three-row midsize SUV, that’s an important purchase factor.


Final Word

The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder represents a substantial improvement over the previous-generation model, which is to be expected. It’s even more fuel-efficient than before, interior fit and finish is honestly good, and offers more modern tech wrapped in a more rugged appearance—Rock Creek Edition or not. However, it doesn’t stand out in any way in its segment, preferring to rank average is just about every aspect. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when a vehicle gets a major redesign, it should normally redefine the category and send everyone else back to their drawing boards. It’s not the case here, which doesn’t mean the Nissan isn’t a loveable big crossover.

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