Boxy, gray, two-tone, 3-row Pathfinder a trend setter …
Sometimes when I write my reviews I feel like a broken record (remember those?) repeating the same info over and over.
Part of that is because trends develop fast in the car world and once one manufacturer does something for style, color, features, the others soon fall in line. Sometimes too I test a vehicle as a pre-production model, then get the standard production model a few months later.
That was the case with Nissan’s new 2022 Pathfinder. Plus it was a top-end Platinum 4WD version, same as I’d tested last fall.
For the most part, all was the same, save for a better driver’s seat butt pocket that was not as hard as last time. That or my tush has softened. Whatever!
Now I also see the trends that Pathfinder exhibits that I wasn’t as aware of previously.
First, two-tone SUVs and crossovers are now a thing, a good thing I might add. The trend is giving the roof a different paint scheme than the body. In this case, the roof was black and the body a destroyer gray. That’s another trend, blah gray paint like a battleship, jet fighter or a utility truck. Funny though, the trendy two-tone paint scheme costs $350 extra.
Boxy styling is back for SUVs too. It’s what carmakers call “muscular” and means wheel wells are more pronounced, hoods flatter and fenders squared. This counteracts the more streamlined styling with rounded edges of recent years, although I’d argue SUVs nearly all look pretty boxy, always have.
Another trend? To improve fuel economy and smooth shifts for a more luxurious feel, carmakers have moved to 8- to 10-speed automatic transmissions. Nissan’s is a 9-speed and silky smooth. That helps keep the 3.5-liter V6 calmed even as the 4,672-pound SUV runs up to highway speeds. So engine noise is modest and the cabin remains quiet, so as not to disturb the family’s social media experiences.
Watch Mark’s video: Mark Savage reviews to 2022 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum Edition – YouTube
Luxury interiors, often even in the $35,000-$40,000 price range (that’s about $10 grand short of the average vehicle price now) are trendy too. That means leather with various names taken from Italian fishing villages to California wine country counties. Nissan’s are semi-aniline leather and were a handsome medium brown with black trim on seats, doors and dash.
This makes sense. I mean, where do you spend hours and hours? Inside your vehicle, naturally. So make it as comfy and lounge-like as possible.
The Pathfinder really looks posh with its quilted leather all around and brushed metal look trim on the outer air vents, door armrests faces and then piano gloss black trim around the various screens and as console trim. Downside to the gloss finish? It’s very reflective on sunny days.
The better news is that these seats are well formed and supportive and as hinted at before, the butt pockets are much softer than the pre-pro model, so fine for long drives with the fam aboard.
That’s easier now too due to the trend of adding a third-row seat to every SUV beyond compact status. Nissan proudly states this third row has more legroom than some competitors, but let’s be realistic, nearly all third rows are meant for kids younger than 8. Leg and knee room is tight unless the second row seats are moved as far forward as possible.
More good news, these row two seats are one-touch, meaning punch a button on the back and the second row seats backs fold forward and the entire seat slides forward for easier access to row three. That’s appreciated.
Also a trend, a bench seat is optional for row two, which would allow a family to haul eight, one more than a minivan. Practically speaking, most folks will opt for captain’s chairs in row two and limit seating to seven. That creates four very comfy seats, which is how many folks populate most vehicles, including midsize and large SUVs.
Other interior trends include dual-pane panoramic sunroofs and fancy stereos. Both are standard on the Platinum model, the stereo being a Bose premium model with dual subwoofers.
Nissan, wisely, is fond of flat-bottom steering wheels which are good at creating more room for a driver’s knees when exiting and also look sportier, a double win.
And many drive modes, here controlled on the console by a rotating dial, are as necessary as giant wheels and tires these days. Pathfinder touts seven drive modes from Mud/Rut and Snow, to Eco and Sport. Yes, Sport firms the steering effort some and mildly aids acceleration.
Supposedly the more muscular styling for Pathfinder (and others) insinuates it is more off-road rugged and certainly I splashed around some sloppy tall grass and muck in a field to assure the Nissan was up to it. It is, but as the SUVs approach the cost of a home it seems less and less likely owners will torture them in rough terrain.
I must admit the tested gray Pathfinder Platinum is not as costly as, say, the giant new Jeeps I recently tested, but still, at $50,665 the monthly payments are going to be substantial.
A base rear-drive S model lists at $34,855 and adding 4WD to any of the Pathfinder’s four trims adds $1,900. The popular SV trim rolls at about $37,500 and the SL at about $42 grand. This Platinum model started at $49,265, including delivery.
For the record I got 23.3 mpg in a 60/40 mix of highway to city driving and the EPA rates this model at 20 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. One hopes a hybrid version is in the works to help boost those numbers, although I must say filling the tank was not as shocking as with the previous week’s Jeep Grand Wagoneer that managed just 12.3 mpg. Pathfinder is way more family budget friendly.
Other pluses include the full bevy of safety equipment. Nissan wisely makes Safety Shield 360 standard on all models. That includes lane departure warning (vibrates the steering wheel and buzzes a bit), blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and front and rear emergency braking plus high-beam headlight assist.
Moving up to the SV trim adds ProPilot the adaptive cruise control and semi-autonomous driving aids, and by the Platinum level there’s also a 10.8-inch head-up display. Sadly that smart cruise system only works with the semi-autonomous system, so you can’t shut off the buzzing, vibrating lane warning system that can annoy during the lane dodging of construction season.
Standard too are a 9-inch infotainment screen (up from 8 in the two lower trims), a WiFi hotspot, 360-degree camera, that flat-bottom steering wheel, Nissan Connect Services via Sirius XM, wireless Apple Car Play, but not wireless Android Auto.
Goodies added in the Platinum model are heated and cooled front seats and heated steering wheel, plus heated rear seats, that dual-pane sunroof, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, wireless phone charger, driver seat memory, power tilt/telescope steering wheel and memory, that the HUD.
I’m also a fan of the power hatch, under cargo floor storage and the fact Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 lbs., when properly equipped.
Not a fan though of the stiff ride in what should be a luxurious family SUV. I would never call this a severe ride, but it’s more than firm. All road imperfections are felt as the ute seems to not soak up the rises in the pavement, but deliver a bump to the rump.
Take a ride though to assess how the ride affects your derriere. If you’re after a large compact ute with luxury leanings inside the Pathfinder offers a roomy quiet interior and plenty of power and amenities.
Others to compare include Toyota’s Highlander, Kia’s Telluride, Hyundai’s Palisade (recently reviewed here), the Ford Explorer Timberline, and Subaru’s Ascent.
FAST STATS: 2022 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum 4WD
Hits: Roomy 3-row interior, stout power, 7 drive modes, flat-bottom steering wheel, solid standard safety equipment plus heated/cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, dual-pane sunroof. Big instrument display and easy-to-use info screen, storage under cargo floor, power hatch and tilt/telescope wheel, along with quiet, stylish interior.
Misses: Stiff ride, limited foot and knee room in third row, smart cruise engages semi-autonomous driving feature, which can’t be disengaged while in cruise mode.
Made in: Smyrna, Tenn.
Engine: 3.5-liter V6, 284 hp / 259 torque
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Weight: 4,672 lbs.
Wheelbase: 114.2 in.
Length: 197.7 in.
Cargo: 16.6/45.0/80.5 cu.ft.
Tow: 6,000 lbs.
MPG: 23.3 (tested)
Base Price: $49,265 (includes delivery)
Carpeted floor mats, captain’s chairs, $255
Lighting package (illuminated kick plates, welcome lighting), $795
2-tone paint, $350
Test vehicle: $50,665
Sources: Nissan, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage