2022 Nissan Pathfinder: Ironing Out a Few Snags

Published on August 10, 2021 in First Drives by Germain Goyer

Over the past few years, Nissan has often been criticized for its aging product lineup. But now with the all-new Sentra, Versa and Rogue, the automaker is taking big steps to fix that. And don’t forget about the upcoming Frontier or the next-generation Z coupe to be revealed on August 17.

The Pathfinder is completely new for 2022. The Car Guide attended the Canadian media launch in Kingston, Ontario where we got to put the midsize SUV to the test both on and off the road.

So Long, CVT!

Under the hood of the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is the same 3.5-litre V6 engine that delivers 284 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque. There’s nothing exceptional or particularly refined about this unit, but it has proven to be effective and dependable over time.

The biggest change is arguably the transmission. Nissan is bucking its own trend of fitting CVTs in every single model and we’re glad. The number of customers who have experienced issues and frustrations with the brand’s Xtronic transmission is quite alarming. The new Pathfinder instead gets a nine-speed autobox and it makes a solid difference. While not any more exciting, the drive has a bit more rhythm than before.

Photo: Germain Goyer

And get this: although CVTs are typically known for their fuel economy, the 2022 Pathfinder is actually slightly more efficient than its predecessor. Natural Resources Canada rates the vehicle at 10.5 L/100 km in combined city-highway driving. At the end of our 240-kilometre test drive, the on-board computer read 10.4 L/100 km.

By the way, all Pathfinders sold in Canada come standard with all-wheel drive. While not the best system out there, it did a really nice job as we traversed dirt and gravel roads.

Making the driving experience more pleasant is the significantly revised interior layout. Our top-line Platinum tester featured a beautiful, easy-to-read digital instrument panel and a fairly user-friendly infotainment system.

Photo: Germain Goyer

As for safety, all 2022 Nissan Pathfinders are equipped with the company’s Safety Shield 360 suite of advanced driver assistance technologies including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist and rear automatic braking.

What about the return of the Pathfinder Hybrid, which was sold back in 2014-2015? Don’t hold your breath, but Nissan did tell us that it’s not closing the door forever.

Photo: Germain Goyer

Fresh New Looks

From a design standpoint, the 2022 Pathfinder is a clear departure from the outgoing generation. While still based on a unibody architecture (it’s been the case since 2013), the new model sort of pays tribute to the original, body-on-frame Pathfinder with diagonal C-pillars. The body colour selection, which includes Obsidian Green Pearl and Scarlet Ember Tincoat as well as four two-tone options, also adds much need character and appeal.  

Sadly, the adventurous-looking Rock Creek Edition is gone, which is a rather curious move as models aimed specifically at off-road and outdoor enthusiasts are increasingly popular. Hopefully it will make a comeback at a later date.

Photo: Germain Goyer

For the first time, the Pathfinder can accommodate up to eight passengers. The third row sits three instead of just two. However, don’t plan to use it extensively. Access is a real challenge and comfort is nowhere to be found. The seat cushions are well too short and space is sorely lacking. If you’re a family of six or more, you’ll be better served by a minivan.

The second-row bench can be replaced by a pair of captain’s chairs with a removable console in the middle.

Photo: Germain Goyer

A Towing Leader

With a maximum capacity of 6,000 pounds, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder continues to rank among the segment leaders in the towing department. On paper, at least. Most rivals with similar dimensions and power have a limit of 5,000 pounds. In our opinion, Nissan’s calculations are a bit too optimistic, as if to sway potential customers. In reality, a pickup or full-size SUV is a more appropriate vehicle for towing more than 5,000 pounds.

Nissan says it worked hard to improve the Pathfinder’s suspension, making it stronger at both ends and thus helping with towing. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the opportunity to pull any kind of load during this media event. Maybe another time.

How Much?

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder starts at $43,798 in base S trim (plus $1,860 destination charges). Due to the lack of a transmission cooler, this is the only model that can tow just 3,500 pounds. A mid-range Pathfinder SL carries a price of $50,398. If you want to get the most luxurious model, prepare to pay $54,398 for a Platinum.

Test drive report
Test model 2022 Nissan Pathfinder
Trim level Platine
Price range $37,498 – $50,998
Price as tested CA$50,998
Warranty (basic) 3 years/60,000 km
Warranty (powertrain) 5 years/100,000 km
Fuel economy (city/highway/observed) 11.8 / 8.7 / 10.4 L/100km
Options N/A
Competitive models 2022 Chevrolet Traverse, 2021 Dodge Durango, 2021 Ford Explorer, 2021 Honda Pilot, 2021 GMC Acadia, 2021 Hyundai Palisade, 2021 Kia Telluride, 2021 Mazda CX-9, 2021 Subaru Ascent, 2021 Toyota Highlander, 2021 Volkswagen Atlas
Strong points
  • Bold new looks
  • Max towing capacity of 6,000 pounds
  • No more CVT
  • Proven V6 engine
Weak points
  • No hybrid variant
  • Third row is tight and hard to access
  • Uncomfortable driver’s armrests
Editor's rating
Fuel economy 3.5/5 You can’t expect miracles from a conventional V6.
Comfort 3.5/5 The front seats are comfortable but not the armrests. The third row is almost laughable.
Performance 3.0/5 The V6 is a decent performer but nothing to write your mom about.
Infotainment 3.5/5 The system is generally easy to use, though a bit slow at times.
Driving 3.0/5 The new Pathfinder is not any more exciting to drive than the old one.
Overall 3.5/5 Big changes were needed and the Pathfinder finally got some. However, it’s not a dramatic evolution.
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