Car Reviews First Tests

2017 Nissan Pathfinder SV First Test Review

More competitive Mallfinder

More competitive Mallfinder

Nissan gave its midsize three-row crossover more than just a modest refresh for the 2017 model year. Revised styling and a noticeable power boost prompted us to revisit the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder. Previous tests of the current generation model included our long-term 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum 4WD and a 2014 Nissan Pathfinder SL 4WD during our Big Test comparison of 2014 three-row crossovers.

For our latest test, the Japanese automaker sent us a 2017 Nissan Pathfinder SV 4WD. The SV model sits above the base S model and below the SL and top-spec Platinum and limited-production Midnight Edition.

Although Nissan might have given the 2017 Pathfinder a fresh face, we are more intrigued by the updated 3.5-liter VQ V-6 engine, which makes 24 hp and 19 lb-ft of torque more than the previous year. Those power gains come from 56 percent new engine parts, including the intake manifold, direct-injection components, electronic timing for the intake, and increased compression ratio (10.3:1 to 11.0:1). The ending result is a total of 284 hp and 259 lb-ft. The engine is backed by Nissan’s latest CVT, which sends power to the front or all four wheels via an all-wheel-drive system that has three selectable modes.

2017 Nissan Pathfinder SV 4WD front three quarter


Those ratings are more competitive in the segment, which includes the Honda Pilot (280 hp and 262 lb-ft), Toyota Highlander (270 hp and 248 lb-ft), and Ford Explorer with the base 3.5-liter V-6 (290 hp and 255 lb-ft).

At the track, the 284-hp 2017 Nissan Pathfinder SV 4WD hit 60 mph in 7.4 seconds and finished the quarter mile in 15.7 seconds at 91.8 mph (148 km/h). In our previous tests, the 260-hp 2013 and 2014 models accelerated in 7.3–7.5 seconds and 15.6–15.7 seconds at 90.9–91.5 mph (146-147 km/h). The 2017 Pathfinder stopped from 60 mph in 125 feet, and the older models stopped in 116–117 feet.

In addition to more power, Nissan also retuned the suspension with stiffer front and rear dampers, 25 percent stiffer rear springs, and revised front rebound springs. Steering ratio was also increased by 11 percent.

The 2017 Pathfinder lapped the Motor Trend figure-eight course in 28.1 seconds at 0.60 g (average) and pulled 0.77 g around the skidpad; the 2013 and 2014 models did it in 28.7 seconds at 0.59–0.60 g and 0.76 g. Our 2017 Pathfinder SV tester rode on 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/65R18 tires, the 2013 Platinum rode on 20-by-7.5-inch wheels with 235/55R20 tires, and the 2014 SV rode on 18-by-7.5-inch wheels with 235/65R18 tires.

The Pathfinder drives well on city streets, thanks to its crossover underpinnings compared to the last-gen model’s truck-based roots. The 2017 Pathfinder isn’t quicker than the previous model, but the crossover never felt slow or lacking of power around town.

Exterior changes include a new hood, Nissan’s signature Vmotion grille, revised front and rear bumpers and taillights, and new turn signal indicators in the side mirrors.

Inside, the Pathfinder is roomier than expected. In fact, with the driving position adjusted for my 5-foot-9-inch frame, I could easily sit behind myself in both the second- and third-row outboard right seats, made possible by the sliding second-row bench. Like most midsize three-row crossovers, the Pathfinder’s 16.0 cubic feet behind the third row isn’t very deep, but fold down the second row, and cargo capacity expands to 47.8 cubic feet. There is a total of 70.8 cubic feet of cargo space with both the second and third rows folded.

Interior updates for 2017 include a revised center stack, new metallic and wood accent options, and new cloth seating for S and SV trims, though with a decent amount of hard plastics, including the dashboard. New tech includes a larger 8.0-inch infotainment screen (up from 7.0 inches) standard, a foot-activated power tailgate, and an optional around-view camera.

Our all-wheel-drive 2017 Nissan Pathfinder SV tester starts at $35,270 USD. Standard features on the SV trim includes hill start assist, hill descent control, 18-inch alloys and spare tire, 60/40-split second-row and 50/50-split third-row seats, an eight-way power driver’s seat with manual lumbar support, keyless entry with remote start and push-button start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cloth seating, an 8.0-inch color touchscreen, a six-speaker audio system with satellite radio, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, two USB ports, one VTR jack, and four 12-volt power outlets.
2017 Nissan Pathfinder SV 4WD front three quarter turn 02

Other features include tri-zone automatic climate control with second-row controls, an aut0-dimming rearview mirror, a rear sonar system, foglights, auto on/off headlights, halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED turn signals integrated in the side mirrors, and a chrome grille and door handles.

Options include the $1,150 USD SV Tech package (NissanConnect with navigation and services, SiriusXM Traffic, blind-spot warning, and cross-traffic alert), the $400 USD Cold package (heated front cloth seats, a heated steering wheel, and heated outside rearview mirrors), and $225 USD carpeted floor mats. Total cost of our tester came to $37,045 USD.

The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder SL 4WD finished third out of six competitors in our 2014 three-row crossover Big Test behind the first-place Dodge Durango Limited AWD and Toyota Highlander XLE AWD (both of which have now been refreshed). About the Nissan, we concluded: “Great for shopping, but really a butched-up minivan. A button-heavy dash and strangely high rear floor stand out.”

The 2017 Nissan Pathfinder is a more competitive foul-weather family crossover, but with its unibody construction and only 7.0 inches of ground clearance—as with other similar crossovers—don’t expect to stray too far off the beaten path. With many midsize three-row crossovers being updated, the 2017 Pathfinder is ready for another comparison test.

2017 Nissan Pathfinder SV (4WD)
BASE PRICE $35,610
PRICE AS TESTED $37,385
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 3.5L/284-hp/259-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,434 lb (57/43%)
WHEELBASE 114.2 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 198.5 x 77.2 x 69.6 in
0-60 MPH 7.4 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.7 sec @ 91.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 125 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.77 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.1 sec @ 0.60 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 19/26/22 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 177/130 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.90 lb/mile