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2022 Nissan Pathfinder First Look

Rediscovering Its Adventurous Soul

Feb 4, 2021

When Nissan first introduced the Pathfinder 35 years ago, it bore the persona and soul of a tough and rugged off-road adventurer. Since its introduction in 1986, Nissan has sold more than 1.8 million Pathfinders in the U.S. Although the Pathfinder has remained a popular choice among young and growing families, over the years it has lost a bit of what really made it special. Generational changes saw the traditional ladder frame get put aside in favor of the more modern unibody construction. The once-available V-8 engine was put out to pasture, and the standard automatic and manual transmission options were replaced by a CVT unit. Sadly, the two-speed transfer case and low range went away, as well. Although it happened slowly, the once-mighty Pathfinder has faded into the general obscurity of every other midsize SUV on the market.

Now, for 2022, Nissan is turning back the clock and injecting some of that original adventurous DNA back into the all-new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder. Every inch of the new Pathfinder was designed to convey a sense of strength and capability. From its strong face and wide stance to its bulgy fender flares and short front overhang, the new Pathfinder improves on the softness that had befallen the previous generation. A "boxed out" rear liftgate pays homage to the original and features oversized satin chrome PATHFINDER lettering. Even the 14 available color combinations were chosen to express a sense of outdoor adventure. From every angle, the new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder screams "Let's go play!"

Photo 2/37   |   015 2022 Nissan Pathfinder First Look

There's little likelihood Nissan will ever bring a V-8 back to Pathfinder, so for 2022 the SUV is powered by Nissan's potent 3.5L V-6 engine. This engine produces an impressive 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. For comparison, the V-8 Pathfinder only made 310 hp (but torque was far greater, at 388 lb-ft). Backing the V-6 is a new nine-speed automatic transmission that Nissan sourced from ZF. Although we really don't mind Nissan's line of XTronic CVTs, we're beyond excited for the return of a standard gearbox. The Pathfinder remains primarily front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive as an option.

With such an emphasis on returning to a more rugged adventure vehicle, we were disappointed to learn that the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder will still not feature a two-speed transfer case or dedicated low-range gear (think like the pseudo low range in Jeep's Cherokee). Despite this, all-wheel-drive models come with what Nissan calls "Intelligent 4WD." This system features a seven-position drive and terrain mode selector with Standard, Sport, Eco, Snow, Sand, Mud/Rut, and Tow modes that adjust throttle mapping and transmission shift points. Power is transferred to the rear differential through a direct coupling, which allows for immediate torque transfer in low-traction situations. Basically, this means the vehicle doesn't need to wait for wheel spin to engage the rear drive unit.

Photo 3/37   |   016 2022 Nissan Pathfinder First Look

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder also boasts a best-in-class maximum towing of 6,000 pounds. Trailer sway control is standard, and an integrated trailer brake controller is available. This is perfect for towing boats, ATV trailers, camping trailers, horse trailers, and much more.

Moving inside, there's more than enough technology to make any modern adventurer feel right at home. An available 9.0-inch color touchscreen infotainment system is mounted high on a new and improved instrument panel. For the driver there's both an available 12.3-inch digital dashboard and a 10.8-inch head-up display. Also available is wireless Apple CarPlay (wireless Android Auto is coming soon), a Bose premium audio system, Nissan's Intelligent Around View Monitor, and more. ProPilot Assist is available for the first time on Pathfinder SV and SL grades. Platinum grade gets ProPilot Assist with Navi-link. All 2022 Nissan Pathfinder models get come equipped with Nissan Safety Shield 360, which includes automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, high-beam assist, and rear automatic braking.

Photo 4/37   |   031 2022 Nissan Pathfinder First Look

Interior comfort has been a big focus, as well, for the new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder. Customers can choose from cloth, leather, or premium semi-aniline leather-appointed seats in a wide range of colors. There are seven new interior "environments" to choose from, with some featuring unique ambient lighting and brushed bronze accents. Seating flexibility has been improved, as well, with standard three-row, eight-passenger seating, or for the first time second-passenger seating with second-row bucket seats. Nissan designed the 2022 Pathfinder's cargo area to accommodate a 120-quart cooler or four golf bags behind the third row. With the second and third rows folded, a full 4x8-foot sheet of plywood will fit flat, which is a boast the competition can't quite make.

Overall, we're very excited about the all-new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder. We appreciate the exterior design and thoughtful interior updates. Nissan's choice of a single engine option is OK by us, and if we had to guess we'd bet on some sort of hybrid drivetrain in the future.

For all the talk of returning to the days when the Pathfinder was a rugged adventurer, we are disappointed by the lack of a low range and general lackluster four-wheel-drive system. Nonetheless, we're happy to see the Pathfinder move away from the generic cute-ute it had become, and we're confident that Nissan has a real winner on its hands.

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