As one of Nissan's best-selling vehicles, the Pathfinder SUV is hugely important to the brand. However, it's also one of the oldest vehicles in the stable, begging for a significant overhaul for at least a few years. Well, the wait is over – the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is here, bringing the techno-chic curb appeal of the redesigned Rogue and facelifted Armada in midsize, three-row crossover form.
Edgy styling aside, the Pathfinder also adds a long list of safety and connectivity equipment to its roster, with family-friendly interior packaging and reasonable performance to boot. The 2022 SUV should also be more enjoyable to drive since Nissan is throwing the old model's droning continuously variable transmission in the scrap heap, replaced by a conventional nine-speed automatic gearbox. Though still a unibody crossover SUV with either front- or all-wheel drive, the new Pathfinder offers seven different terrain modes, as well as up to 6,000 pounds of towing capacity.
The outgoing Nissan Pathfinder is handsome enough, but it lacks personality. No one could accuse its successor of the same, thanks to headlights with wild turn-signal eyebrows, a squared-off grille (that the company still calls "V-motion," for some reason), and a flat hood that's less minivan-like than the current Pathfinder. Blackened A, B, and D-pillars join a body-color C-pillar on some models, giving the SUV a floating-roof effect that's more interesting than other iterations of the overdone styling feature.
Around the rear, slim LED taillights make the crossover appear wider and more planted, and the convex hatch, resplendent with a silver "PATHFINDER" wordmark, is said to recall the first-generation SUV. We don't totally see the link in back, but the front grille's three mail slots near the hood are a nice throwback to the Pathfinders of the 1980s and 1990s. Ditto the 2022 model's bold, blistered wheel arches – they're, like, totally radical. Cheap nostalgia aside, the Pathfinder looks much more muscular and planted than it did before thanks to those flares.
The Sitting Room
Most three-row crossovers live and die by their interiors. It looks as though the 2022 Pathfinder is primed to succeed in this respect, thanks to a revised technology suite that includes an available 9.0-inch center touchscreen, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and 10.8-inch head-up display. An 8.0-inch screen is standard, as is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We expect the trim walk to mirror that of the Rogue – the smaller screen on the S, SV, and SL grades, with the 9.0-inch display optional on the SL and standard on the Platinum.
Bold styling is also the order of the day, with the infotainment, climate controls, and instrument cluster residing in a driver-oriented nacelle. The HVAC outlets live in metallic-finished trim bits that "interlock" with the dash, furthering the Pathfinder's tech-forward appearance. Nissan will offer woven cloth, leather, or semi-aniline quilted leather on the Pathfinder, the latter likely reserved for the Platinum model.
Unlike its seven-passenger predecessor, the 2022 Pathfinder gets a three-position rear bench, bringing standard seating capacity to eight. For families who want a bit more comfort (at the expense of one seating position), there are optional second-row captain's chairs with a center console that's easily removable. The standard second-row bench retains the current SUV's fold-and-slide function (though enhanced with passenger- and driver-side access), which makes it easier to climb into the third row, even when a child seat is installed.
Nissan hasn't revealed all interior measurements yet, but the new Pathfinder will offer 16.6 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row, a marginal 0.4-foot improvement. With the rear seats all folded flat, the SUV can accommodate a 4x8 sheet of plywood within its 80.5 cubic feet of room (up a single cube over 2021). More compelling on a daily basis will be the Pathfinder's interior cubbies and binnacles. A Rogue-like electronic shifter opens up space beneath the console for open storage, perfect for tablets, small bags, or face masks.
Better Living Through Technology
Even the base Pathfinder S will get the Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite, bundling automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and automatic rear braking. The mid-level SV and SL models will also offer ProPilot Assist as an option, adding adaptive cruise control and lane-centering to the roster. At the top of the heap is the Platinum's ProPilot Assist with Navi-Link, which uses data from the embedded navigation to predictively slow for upcoming bends in the road, freeway exits, and interchanges.
If it all works as well as it does in the Rogue, the Pathfinder should be an impressively stress-free place to while away a long road trip. Adding to that sense of tranquility will be acoustic laminated front door glass, thicker rear door glass, and added door and floor isolation. That's good, because one complaint about the current Pathfinder is an echo-chamber sense of buzziness at freeway speeds.
Further reducing noise, vibration, and harshness is the decision to abandon the outgoing Pathfinder's somewhat droning continuously variable transmission. Although the 2022 model retains its predecessor's direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 with 284 horsepower (212 kilowatts) and 259 pound-feet (351 newton-meters), that mill is now mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Maximum towing capacity remains an impressive 6,000 pounds, but we would have been nervous hauling such a heavy trailer behind a rubber-band CVT. The automatic should be much more reliable.
Nissan claims best-in-class towing for the Pathfinder, but it conveniently chooses to put the Dodge Durango in a different category. Properly equipped, the Durango V6 can tow up to 6,200 pounds, while certain models with the V8 can tug a Suburban-shaming 8,700 pounds. Regardless, the Pathfinder out-hauls the Ford Explorer (5,600 pounds of towing capacity) and Toyota Highlander, Kia Telluride, and Honda Pilot (5,000 pounds).
Make It Make Cents
We still don't know exactly how much you'll have to spend on a 2022 Pathfinder when it comes time to sign at the dotted line. It likely won't be a whole lot more expensive than the current crossover, which starts at $31,980 for the S 2WD or $44,910 in Platinum 4WD form. Every Pathfinder trim – S, SV, SL, and Platinum – will be available in front- or all-wheel drive.
When it goes on sale this summer, the 2022 Pathfinder will be just one of many new or recently refreshed models in the company's lineup. In fact, between the Kicks, Rogue, Pathfinder, and Armada, Nissan might have the most comprehensive and modern utility-vehicle lineup in the industry – only the Rogue Sport stands out as the lone archaism. Whether that'll be enough to help the Pathfinder achieve high-volume sales remains to be seen.