2017 Nissan Pathfinder in Sandstone

2017 Nissan Pathfinder in Sandstone

2017 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum AWD    2015 Audi Q5

Class: Midsize Crossover

Miles Driven: 310

Fuel Used: 18.0 gallons

CG Report Card
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Room and ComfortB
Power and PerformanceB
Fit and FinishB
Fuel EconomyC+
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big GuyB-
Tall GuyA-

Real-world fuel economy: 17.2 mpg

Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 19/26/21 (city/highway/combined)

Base price: $43,560 (not including $900 destination charge)

Options on test car: Carpeted floor mats ($225)

Price as tested: $44,685


Quick Hits

The great: Ride quality, new safety and convenience features

The good: Room and comfort

The not so good: Fuel economy

More Pathfinder price and availability information


John Biel

With freshened styling, a jump in power and towing capacity, and expanded technology features, the Nissan Pathfinder is keeping its blades sharp as it skates into 2017.

The 3-row midsize sport-utility vehicle brings all of this to an update of its 2013-vintage unibody platform. It is offered in the same four trim levels as before, all of them available with a choice of front-wheel- or 4-wheel-drive running gear. For its test of a ’17 Pathfinder, Consumer Guide® went top-shelf with a Platinum AWD. With nothing tacked on but the $900 delivery charge and $225 worth of floor mats, the test truck stickered at $44,685, which is $1490 more than a front-drive Platinum costs.

Quick Spin: 2016 Toyota Highlander XLE

2017 Nissan Pathfinder in sandstone

The Platinum trim level adds bright rocker-panel trim and chrome door handles, among other exterior decor elements.

Resting behind and under the revised grille and raised hood is a familiar 3.5-liter V6 engine. However, it’s been tweaked with, among other things, direct fuel injection for 284 horsepower, a gain of 24. Torque output is raised, too, improving off-the-line getaway. Paired with an automatic continuously variable transmission that behaves better than many CVTs, the Pathfinder cruises easily and quickly builds power under determined acceleration with a muted rumble.

The added strength raises the Pathfinder’s rated towing capacity to 6000 pounds, a 20-percent improvement. What it doesn’t seem to do anything for is fuel economy. The EPA rates the 4-wheeler at 19 mpg in the city, 26 on the highway, and 21 combined, but this driver saw just 17.5 mpg in the wake of a 176.4-mile stint composed of 50 percent city-style driving.

2017 Nissan Pathfinder cabin

Head- and legroom in Pathfinder’s first and second rows is generous, and cabin materials are mostly high quality.

There’s a comforting sureness to the handling—no wobbling or wallowing in turns or during lane changes—with enough steering feel to impart a good sense of control to the driver. Ride is well composed, even on the 20-inch wheels standard on the Platinum model. Only the stoutest of road imperfections had a chance at disturbing the peace.

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2017 Pathfinder cargo area

The Pathfinder’s cargo capacity is 16.0 cubic feet behind the third-row seats, 47.8 behind the second row, and a downright cavernous 79.8 cubic feet when both the second and third rows are folded.

For off-road work, there is standard hill-descent control and drive modes (selected via a console dial) for automatic 4-wheel drive or 4WD lock, plus, of course, 2-wheel drive. Sensing some front-wheel slip on wet pavement during the first snowfall of the season, this driver clicked into automatic AWD (which activates when all-wheel grip is needed most) and didn’t experience another moment of doubt during the trip.

2017 Pathfinder under-floor storage

A Bose subwoofer, standard on the Platinum trim level, cuts into some of the useful space found under Pathfinder’s load floor.

As the top dog of the Pathfinder line, the Platinum comes standard with all that’s new for safety and convenience in 2017. That includes turn signals integrated into the external mirrors, “Moving Object Detection” (added to the existing surround-view overhead monitor), automatic forward-collision emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and a motion-activated tailgate that opens or closes when the keyholder swipes a foot under the rear bumper.

There is a video-entertainment option package for the Platinum, and a number of factory- and dealer-installed stand-alone accessories. Even without them, though, the Pathfinder Platinum comes well stocked. Other key standard-equipment items include blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts; leather seats, steering wheel, shifter knob, and door inserts; power front seats with memory settings for the driver’s seat, steering wheel, and mirrors; heated steering wheel; heated and cooled front seats; heated second-row seats (a big hit with this reviewer’s official-test in-laws); push-button starting; remote starting; tri-zone climate control; Bose 13-speaker audio system; rear parking assist; welcome lighting; fog lights; roof rails; and a panoramic sunroof.

A larger 8-inch touchscreen is among the 2017 improvements. On Platinums, it displays the standard navigation system. A 13-speaker Bose audio system provides sound for the premium model. Satellite radio and traffic information also come standard, as do voice recognition, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and NissanConnect services for emergency assistance and smartphone-enabled unlocking and starting capability.

2017 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum wheels

Twenty-inch wheels come standard on Platinum models.

Audio settings are intuitive to make, and benefit from distinct volume and tuning knobs that speed the process. Climate controls rely on rotary knobs to directly select temperature and fan speed, with repetitive-step push buttons for mode. If there’s anything “wrong” with the climate controls it’s that they sit a little low in the dash and can be somewhat hard to decipher quickly in the dark.

The interior, which has been touched up a bit, has plenty of soft-touch material on the front doors, but the tops of the rear doors settle for a less “giving” material. Still, the overall look and feel is fairly upscale. Head- and legroom in the first two rows is quite good, and three adults will fit across the second-row seats, thanks in part to a nearly flat floor. Unless middle-row passengers track their seats forward a bit, grown-ups in the third row are going to find little room for their legs. In any event, they’ll have to sit in a knees-up position. Seats are comfortably supportive—at least in the first two rows. Cushions on middle-row seats fold up, which allows them to track further forward for the benefit of third-row entry and exit. Big windows improve driver vision to most lines of sight.

The glove box is quite large. The covered 2-tier console box is versatile: It has two 12-volt sockets, an SD-card slot, an auxiliary jack, and two USB ports inside—but all that cuts into storage space. All doors have small pockets with bottle holders. Eight cup holders—two in the console, two in the pull-down middle-row armrest, and two molded into either sidewall in the third row—serve the thirsty.

With all seats up, rear cargo space is somewhat limited, though there is added small-item space in a bin under the floor. However, the rear- and middle-row seats fold (50/50 in back, 60/40 in the middle) to open up increasingly ample flat-floored cargo capacity.

Lax fuel economy is a fault of this family-friendly Nissan. However, for room, features, and driving ease for the price, the Pathfinder seems to know the way to go.

2017 Pathfinder profile

Starting at $31,190, Pathfinder can be had in entry-level S, midlevel SV and SL, and top-line Platinum trim levels.

Test Drive: 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum