For the 2017 model year, Nissan gives its 3-row, 7-passenger midsize SUV a freshening. As a result, the 2017 Pathfinder is more appealing than the model it replaces. It continues in S, SV, SL, and Platinum trim levels, each featuring front-wheel or 4-wheel drive (FWD or 4WD).
New lighting and bumpers, combined with a redesigned hood and grille, give the updated Pathfinder a more rugged appearance. New LED headlights and taillights are available on some versions of the SUV.
Though Nissan characterizes the new styling as aligned with other recent models, the company resists sweeping the boomerang headlights into the new hood, resulting in a tougher, burlier look that is entirely appropriate for this model.
Aside from new fabric in the S and SV trim levels, and updated trim and accent finishes for the SL and Platinum versions, the Pathfinder’s cabin largely carries over from 2016. New infotainment and instrumentation updates are the big news, but Nissan has also revised the SUV’s cupholders and adds illumination to the forward storage bin.
As was true in 2016, all Pathfinders include a third-row seat, and all are equipped with a sliding second-row seat that supplies easy access to the third row even when a child safety seat is latched into place.
New for 2017, a hands-free power rear liftgate debuts for the Pathfinder. An owner simply waves his or her foot beneath the rear bumper and the tailgate opens. It includes a memory function for liftgate height, which is useful for owners with low garage ceilings.
Under the Hood
More than half of the parts that go into the Pathfinder’s updated 3.5-liter V-6 engine are new. Equipped with direct fuel injection, the V-6 churns out 284 horsepower and 259 lb.-ft. of torque, more than last year’s 260 horsepower and 240 lb.-ft. Nissan promises improved acceleration and response without a fuel-economy penalty, though official EPA estimates were unavailable as this article was published.
A continuously variable transmission (CVT) with D-Step Logic continues, the latter feature programming the CVT to deliver a sound and feel similar to a traditional automatic transmission. The optional 4WD system includes 2WD, Auto, and 4WD Lock settings and is coupled with a hill-descent control system for extra confidence while off-roading.
Nissan also upgrades the Pathfinder’s towing capacity for 2017, raising it from a standard 5,000 lbs. to 6,000 lbs. Furthermore, revisions to the SUV’s steering and suspension are designed to make the Pathfinder more enjoyable to drive.
Although the 2016 Pathfinder received top safety scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), last year’s model lacked one important driver-assistance technology: automatic emergency braking. For 2017, Nissan rectifies this oversight, pairing it with an adaptive cruise control system and forward-collision warning. These features are exclusively available for the Pathfinder Platinum.
A blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert continues from last year (optional for SV, standard for SL and Platinum), and the Pathfinder’s Around View Monitor system gains Nissan’s moving-object detection technology for 2017 (standard for SL and Platinum).
Standard equipment for all 2017 Pathfinders includes a NissanConnect touch-screen infotainment system with a new, larger 8-in. display that boasts updated graphics. Navigation is available for all but the Pathfinder S, complete with improved voice destination-entry capability and SiriusXM traffic reporting.
NissanConnect Services debuts for 2017, available for all Pathfinders but the basic S trim level. Highlights include automatic collision notification, SOS emergency calling, and remote monitoring alerts related to speed, curfew, and geographic boundaries. Nissan offers several service packages, each available by subscription.
Buyers choosing the optional Family Entertainment package get larger dual-screen monitors for 2017, as well as a new USB port and HDMI jacks.