We can’t all be victors. The fortunate among us take in this lesson right on time, after mentor pitch strikeouts or unscored yet clearly uneven soccer matches. Others—the somewhat talented or the painstakingly protected—go to the acknowledgment sometime down the road, when it harms more. It takes just a single olympic style events meet to understand that there’s a considerable measure of pursuing that goes on the tape is broken, yet little brilliance is distributed for the beaten, broken ones who go too far with the victors as of now on the platform. Nissan doesn’t have a champ in the Pathfinder, yet it’s a midpack contender in a stacked field.
The Pathfinder’s 284-hp V-6 engine underwent a thorough revamping for 2017 that pushes it a little further toward the front of the pack. Direct injection is new to the 3.5-liter powerplant, as are redesigned pistons, a higher compression ratio, and variable intake-valve timing. Together, the revisions produce an additional 24 horsepower and 19 lb-ft of torque than were available in the 2016 Pathfinder. (We’d hoped for a bigger power bump, but let’s not look gift horsepower in the mouth.) The revised engine was good for a 7.4-second run from zero to 60 mph. That’s just 0.1 second quicker than our test of a 2016 Pathfinder—and not quite the 0.2-second improvement Nissan predicted when we got our first drive of the new model in August.
The programming of the Pathfinder’s continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which drew our ire in the aforementioned review of the pre-refresh model, has improved. It still lingers near 5000 rpm under moderate-to-heavy acceleration but does so by imitating a traditional automatic, shifting from 6000 rpm back down to 4500, then repeating the cycle until the pedal is lifted. This avoids the inherent droning that lesser CVTs cause, while still making use of the Pathfinder’s high-end torque. CVTs supposedly improve fuel efficiency over traditional automatic transmissions, but the Pathfinder failed spectacularly on that score during our two-week test, recording just 16 mpg despite an EPA combined rating of 21 mpg. In fairness to the Pathfinder, about half of those miles were under unusually hard driving conditions. But with highway cruising and errands around town mixed in, the result is still surprisingly low.
Exterior revisions to the Pathfinder are less obvious, although Nissan claims that a reshaping of its nose has made the crossover look more “masculine.” On the inside, the Pathfinder, or at least the Platinum version we tested, has the same high level of feature content that impressed us last year. Our test car came standard with heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, and a panoramic sunroof. But even though the dashboard and door panel fittings look plush at first glance, closer inspection reveals them to be mostly cleverly molded hard-touch plastics with dashes of an unconvincing faux brazilwood. There’s better to be had in this segment and at this price—look to the Mazda CX-9 to see the heights mainstream-brand crossovers can reach.
Nissan puts forth a decent defense for the Pathfinder as a family hauler with some irrefutably helpful elements, for example, a moment push seat situate that tilts forward to permit third-push get to even with a youngster situate mounted. The 16 cubic feet of capacity behind the third line isn’t momentous, yet with it stowed payload space develops to almost 50 cubic feet, among the best in its class. Those splendid spots aren’t sufficient to compensate for the Pathfinder’s dynamic defects, particularly since the genuine champs in this race can pull the stuff of family life and convey a remunerating driving knowledge.