We don’t like making anyone feel old, but for 2017 the Nissan Pathfinder is 30 years old. Instead of a hokey anniversary edition, it was given a fresh face and new power. If you think its just another Japanese import, think again. Nissan has built them in Smyrna, Tennessee since 2004. What began life as a body on frame SUV has evolved into a unibody crossover. Being proud of their latest achievement, we received a newborn for a week of testing.
The fresh front end has more character than last year, and the headlights are not as rectangular. Smaller fog lights are incorporated into brake ducts and the grilles are more prominent. Not much has changed on the inside. Leather seating for 7 includes power heat & cool front seats and heated 2nd row. Good luck to those out back, because accessing the final row can be tricky for adults. Three zone climate control and a dual pane powered moonroof are touches we weren’t expecting. Other pleasantries are 13 BOSE speakers and intelligent cruise control. The front headrests have built in entertainment thanks to 8″ screens with DVD, USB and HDMI.
In keeping with the zeitgeist, the 3.5 liter VQ series V6 was updated with direct injection and a variable intake manifold. The revised engine is now rated at 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. It is bolted to a transmission, but we will get to that later. You will have the ability to tow 6,000 lbs and the security of 4WD. Being the Platinum edition, all the safety and convenience features are standard equipment.
Driving the Pathfinder is relaxing thanks to great insulation and a smooth transmission. It was so smooth we had to pop the hood and silence overtook us, a CVT!. I had completely forgot about the continuously variable transmission doesn’t have gears, it uses an adjustable belt to constantly match desired mph with engine speed. If you had considered them to be a brief novelty, think again. Nissan made a big investment in their development, and it does help in the mileage department. To find a seven passenger 4WD crossover that gets 26 mpg is not an easy task. Visibility is better than most thanks to the vertical rear roof pillars and big mirrors. Steering is on the numb side, but lateral grip is not what Pathfinder owners are looking for. Platinum has all the safety and most of the luxury of the premium brands for only $46,555.