The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder may have reestablished itself as a serious player in a packed field.
Honestly, I think that the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is a huge improvement over the previous model, and I have yet to drive it! Over my three-plus decades of driving, I have owned two Nissan Pathfinders, and I currently drive a 2008 – which I adore. In the mid 1990s, I briefly owned a 1987 (first generation) Nissan Pathfinder. That model was a rugged, simple truck that was extremely capable and looked badass.
The second generation was kind of Jeep Grand Cherokee-like as it was based on a unibody platform, but still had off-road capable underpinnings. It was sort of an odd-duck, but it had great power and there was an Infiniti version as well called the QX4. Nissan went back to a truck frame for their third generation.
There were other versions of the Pathfinder that eventually were replaced by the Xterra. That was more or less the beginning of the end to the “beefy” Pathfinder.
Then came the Xterra.
Everything changed when the Nissan Xterra came along and took over for the Pathfinder as Nissan’s rugged, serious off-road SUV. The third generation, which I still own, remains fairly rugged, but it has a four-wheel independent suspension and it holds up to seven. Despite still being a truck with a beefy powertrain, it became more refined. Nissan felt that, with the huge Armada, and the capable Xterra, the Pathfinder needed a different groove.
The fourth generation Nissan Pathfinder was (for the most part) a front-wheel drive wagon with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Despised by off-road enthusiasts, the nasty nickname for the new Pathfinder was, “Mall-finder.” Sure, it was still capable in mild conditions, like snow and rutted roads, but its robust off-road capability had diminished.
Over the past seven years, Nissan has tried to bump up the Pathfinder’s capability and appeal. At one point, it was a hot seller, but the numbers have dropped quite a bit. Many feel that the CVT, car-like performance, mellow looks and stiff competition have hurt it. I tend to agree.
The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder looks like a solid contender
There’s a lot to like about this new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder. For the most part, it’s an all-new model with a few exceptions. Considering their limited budget, I’m actually surprised any what they managed to do. The biggest news is the ZF 9-speed automatic transmission, which powers the front wheels. This should fix/address a lot the previous issues, including reliability, off-road capability and towing performance.
Oddly, Nissan is sticking to their older 3.5-liter V6 which still produces 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque. I thought they would try to adapt their new, beefy 3.8-liter V6. At the very least, maybe try out their new turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Still, the 3.5-liter V6 is considered reliable. Maybe the new transmission will make this engine sing?
The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder will have one of the top towing figures out there (when properly equipped). Nissan says it will be able to tow up to 6,000 – lbs. Only the Dodge Durango beats it in this class. Also, the new Pathfinder looks a lot more like the newest Nissan Armada, which is to say – it looks more like a truck. That’s not a bad thing.
Nissan has been brilliant about offering top-end safety systems standard and the Pathfinder is no exception. This new Pathfinder includes the Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of safety technologies. This system includes front and rear automatic braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic high-beam assist – among other tech.
Finally, there’s the interior. Something else Nissan is doing much better with. In fact, I would say that they are outgunning just about every other Japanese competitor, with the exception of Mazda. At least with esthetics.
Would I consider one?
If I were in the market for a one – maybe. At the very least it already looks a lot more compelling than the one it replaces. It needs more than seven-inches of ground clearance (which is what the old one has) and beefier tires. For most consumers looking to haul up to eight people, I like what I see. In fact, if it drives as good as it looks, I will be excited for buyers and for Nissan.
Still, I’m not giving up my R51 anytime soon.