The Nissan Pathfinder is back!
Well, actually, it really only missed the 2021 model year. But it doesn’t take long to pick up on a “return to rugged roots” theme for the all-new-for-’22 Pathfinder. The styling includes throwback cues that pay homage to the ancestral two-door Hardbody pickup truck conversion version that debuted 35 years ago.
There’s the subtle, almost Easter Egg return of the three slots atop the trademark Nissan V-Motion grille, a renewed emphasis on fender blisters, and new character lines that add “U-shaped highlights” to the side profile. Nissan familial traits are there – the boomerang-style “C-shaped” combo of headlights and DRLs, carved out more rectangularly on this SUV. And the “floating roof” theme that repeats throughout Nissan’s lineup, done here with blacked out “A” and “B” pillars and a dark strip across the top of the “C” pillar, which has also been angled forward in tribute to the triangular rear side window of that original Pathfinder.
The front overhang is shorter. The grille is more upright. Even the side glass is more upright for improved interior room. The hood is flatter, straighter, the stance more aggressive on bigger wheels, and the design sweeps to a restyled rear featuring flatter, wider rear glass and new slimmer flush-mounted tail lamps emphasizing width and stability. A wider tailgate broadly emblazoned with the “PATHFINDER” name, follows the lead, I think, of the Hyundai Pallisade and Kia Telluride.
This has all been done for the sake of more “truckiness”, dialing back some of the car-like softness and rounded aerodynamics that have accumulated over four generations. But this fifth generation 2022 Pathfinder is, of course, a very different beast from the original compact pickup adaptation – two feet longer, about a foot wider, riding on a ten-inch longer wheelbase. And, while it may boast ruggedness, it’s loaded with all the modern techs, tweaks and amenities you would expect.
The Pathfinder shifted back and forth between body-on-frame construction and unibody styles a couple of times in its history but the current unibody layout features front strut and rear independent multi-link suspension with stabilizer bars and dual pinion electric power steering to ensure controlled ride and handling.
Under the hood, a modern iteration of Nissan’s venerable 3.5-litre V6 makes 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. There’s plenty of get-up-and-go on hand and enough oomph for an up to 2,722 kg (6,000 lb) trailer tow rating. Power is translated through an all-new ZF 9-speed automatic with manual mode and and paddle-shifters, a definite upgrade over the previously efficient but deadly dull CVT system. And all Pathfinders in Canada come with the Intelligent 4WD system controlled by a new console-mounted seven-position Drive and Terrain Mode Selector that rotates through Standard, Sport, Eco, Snow, Sand, Mud/Rut and Tow modes.
Idle stop/start and other engine efficiencies contribute to a fairly decent 11.6L/9.2L/100km (city/hwy) fuel consumption rating. My mixed bag of driving averaged out to 11.5L/100km (comb).
The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder comes in 11 different colours including four new two-tone treatments. New head-turning colours include Scarlet Ember and our as-tested Obsidian Pearl/Super Black combo.
Five trim levels are available – S ($44,338), SV ($47,450), SL ($50,898), SL Premium ($52,698) and Platinum ($54,998).
All Pathfinders include a good base level of features that customers are looking for – heated front seats, heated steering, heated mirrors and heated washer nozzles, a 10-way power driver’s seat and Tri-Zone Automatic Temperature Control with second row climate controls for your rear passengers.
Nissan’s innovative ProPILOT Assist, controlling acceleration, braking and steering, comes standard even in entry-level models this year, and all Pathfinders come with the Nissan Safety Shield 360, a package of technologies that bundles Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Automatic Braking. Other standards include Hill Descent Control, Trailer Sway Control, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Driver Alertness, Blind Spot Intervention, Intelligent Lane Intervention and Rear Door Alert.
Slip into our fully loaded Platinum test vehicle and you are welcomed into a richly detailed Chestnut Brown and Black interior, mixing double-stitched leather details with glossy piano black and bronze metallic style highlights. Perforated heated/ventilated seats with quilted leather inserts are stylish and comfortable. A modern “bridge-style” console with pass-through storage below for your purse or tablet also mounts the new electronic shifter and a wireless cellphone charging pad.
Instrumentation is detailed and sensibly laid out and the view includes a 9-inch multi-touch display with all the expected apps, a 12.3-inch Advanced Drive Assist Display inside the dash with a 10.8-inch Head-up Display up top.
The second row features a choice of bench seating or, for the first time, two heated captain’s chairs and a removable rear console. The knees-up third row has been widened and the floor lowered by 25 mm to allow seating for three, so they say. Well, maybe for half-pint kids or hobbits. But, even with the new EZ FLEX one-touch release button system, if you try cramming Aunt Bertha’s bridge team back there you might be calling for the fire department extrication team.
Behind the 60/40 split folding third row, the liftgate opens to 470 litres of luggage room, enough to accommodate four golf bags with all three-rows up. That space increases to 1,274 litres with the third row down, maxing out to 2,421 litres with both rear rows folded flat. There’s even enough width to accommodate 4X8 sheets of plywood. Cargo conveniences include grocery bag hooks, tie downs, 12V power outlet and an underfloor storage compartment.
Given my druthers, I’d be tempted to opt for the militaristically flavoured Obsidian Pearl/Super Black combo tested here, maybe accessorized with the Thule Canyon XT roof basket mounting a couple of rally lights up top.
But, whew! It’s hard to summarize this 2022 Nissan Pathfinder, especially in Platinum trim with an almost endless list of features and amenities, standards and extras that complement this competent modern performer while hinting at historic styling milestones of its past.
So, to really capture the essence of the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder, well, you’ll probably just have to test drive one yourself.
The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.