The All-New and Rugged Nissan Pathfinder

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder launches its fifth generation with a more rugged look.


2022 Nissan Pathfinder front fascia
The Pathfinder returns to its earlier rugged looks without losing its crossover touch.

The Nissan Pathfinder is one of the earliest sport utility vehicles, with the nameplate launching in 1985. Based on a Nissan truck architecture through its first three generations, the Pathfinder transitioned to a car-based platform beginning in 2013. For 2022, the Pathfinder is all-new. The latest model continues with its crossover layout, but brings back a ruggedness we have not seen in a decade.

Nissan offers the 2022 Pathfinder in four trims: S ($33,410), SV ($36,200), SL ($39,590), and Platinum ($46,190). Add $1,150 for the destination charge. This model comes with standard front-wheel drive and may be upgraded to all-wheel drive for $1,900. The Pathfinder seats up to eight in its standard configuration.

Exterior Highlights

The latest Pathfinder aligns itself with the compact Rogue in terms of a more rugged appearance. Gone are the soft angles and leisurely designs of the previous generation. That then new model shocked us as it was a clear departure from the buff look of the third generation. Nevertheless, the look grew on us and, most importantly, customers as Pathfinder sales surged.

Yet, the midsize three-row crossover utility segment is dominated by strong players, and sitting still is not an option. It took Nissan nine years to redesign this model (with intermediary changes along the way) and a strikingly different look was necessary. Behold! A fresh canvas with traditional styling elements rolls out and these changes are welcome.

Instead of a rounded visage, the new Pathfinder hearkens to its first three generations. The new model is buff, with a bold grille punctuating a strong front fascia. Take a look at the grille and you may notice a Nissan distinction. Three slots at the top of the grille are a design feature of old. It tops the brand’s recognizable V-motion grille for a unique look.


2022 Nissan Pathfinder
A more robust profile with an updated rear window dresses the new model.

The “meaty” look of the new Pathfinder is evident along its profile. The black-clad wheel arches are sporty and match the sophistication of the various wheel choices. Take a note of the greenhouse as the rear window design contributes to the “floating” roof look. The rocker panel design and trim impart elegance and finesse.

Fresh Lettering

From the rear, the tail lamp design pattern with its narrow slats matches the LEDs in the front. Perhaps the most striking feature, though, is the PATHFINDER lettering that covers much of the liftgate. It represents a look from a bygone era, something we think puts the “stamp” of ruggedness back on this crossover.

Among the standard features are LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels. A panoramic moonroof comes with the SV trim. Moreover, this model offers a power liftgate or a motion-activated liftgate, depending on the trim.

Other available features include full LED lighting, power-folding side mirrors, heated side mirrors, and roof rails. Lastly, 20-inch alloy wheels and a tow hitch receiver with a 7-pin wiring harness are available.

Interior Highlights

The 2022 Pathfinder builds on the 114.2-inch wheelbase of the 2020 model (Nissan skipped the 2021 model year). Even so, we think the redesigned interior supplies a slight improvement in space over the outgoing model.

You will find eight-passenger seating with the Pathfinder. But the better option is to swap out the middle-row bench seat for a pair of captain’s chairs. A console located between the two is removable, but it is also useful. Throughout the cabin is ample storage compartments and the seats are covered in cloth. Leather upholstery is available.

Material quality is noticeably better this year. In particular, there is greater use of soft-touch materials with hard plastics relegated to below eye-level places such as the base of the dashboard.

Kudos to Nissan for developing middle-row captain’s chairs that are easy to use. A solitary button on the side of the chair pushes and flips the seat forward for ease of access to the third row. Some designs require releasing a top handle then pulling the seat forward. Doubtlessly, this design is much less cumbersome.


Nissan Pathfinder front seats
Nissan Pathfinder second-row seats


As for standard equipment, this model comes with full-power accessories. Also, manually controlled front seats, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, and three-zone climate control come included.

The list of available features is long and broad. To begin, a 10-way power driver’s seat with two-way lumbar support can be had. A four-way power front passenger seat is also available. Further, heated front seats, climate-controlled front seats (heated and cooled), and a heated steering wheel; are options.

We give the Pathfinder high marks for seat comfort, especially in the first two rows. The third-row seats two with ease or three in a pinch. Youngsters will thrive in the back row, while two adults will be fine for short trips.

Secret Storage Space

The Pathfinder has 16.6 cubic feet of storage space behind the third row. That’s small, but we loaded up a week’s worth of groceries in that space side-by-side. Drop the second- and third-row seats down and 80.5 cubic feet of storage space becomes available. Certainly, some competing models offer more space, but the differences are not that big.

Nissan also created a storage compartment beneath the rear floor that should prove a difference-maker. Consequently, it is something families should consider for placing wet clothes or hiding gear. Here, a simple lift to the rear floor removes this secret storage compartment and all the possibilities that go with it.

Safety Features

You would expect Nissan to equip the 2022 Pathfinder with the latest safety equipment. Happily, you will not be disappointed.

Every trim comes with high-beam assist and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Further, lane departure warning, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear automatic braking are included.

Some trims and packages add a front and rear sonar system and a surround-view monitor. Nissan’s ProPilot Assist package, which brings in elements of autonomous driving, is also available. Specifically, this technology, when activated, supplies steering inputs to keep the Pathfinder centered. Furthermore, it works with adaptive cruise control to maintain separation between the vehicle directly in front.


2022 Nissan Pathfinder engine
A more sophisticated dashboard with ample soft-touch materials dominates.

Technology Features

Nissan’s touch-screen measures 8 inches on the standard model and 9 inches on some trims. A six-speaker audio system with satellite radio comes with the S trim. Further, all trims include Bluetooth, at least four USB connections, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility.

The larger screen rolls out with the SL trim as does a fifth USB port. A 13-speaker audio system and wireless phone charging are also included. Move up to the Premium trim and this one adds a sixth USB port. Passengers want them and Nissan delivers!

We liked the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with the Platinum trim. Digital clusters are becoming commonplace and this one looks elegant and sporty. Further, they are easier to read and less taxing on the eyes.


2022 Nissan Pathfinder engine
This year, Nissan marries the V6 engine to an automatic transmission.

Nissan Pathfinder Performance

The new Pathfinder’s 3.5-liter V6 engine is a familiar one as it is carried over from the previous generation. With 284 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque, its power density is on the low side for the segment.

On the other hand, the Pathfinder offers stellar towing chops, particularly with the tow package upgrade. The standard towing is 3,500 pounds, but with the package, the Pathfinder pulls up to 6,000 pounds. No other model outside of a Jeep Grand Cherokee L or a Dodge Durango can do that. Therefore, this accomplishment is worth noting.

The big change this year is the continuously variable transmission is gone. In its place is a 9-speed automatic transmission. This one is also used in a pair of Nissan pickup trucks: Frontier and Titan. We test drove the 2020 Frontier with the all-new powertrain combination and found the transmission a capable performer.

Nissan moving back to an automatic transmission is a move we like. Yes, a CVT is typically more efficient than an automatic, but with nine forward gears in place, the new automatic largely closes that gap. Further, the new transmission works quite well with the engine, shifting to the right gear quickly and seamlessly. Gone is the engine drone common to CVTs. Also, shuddering and a sudden loss of acceleration possible with a CVT are not an issue any longer.

Off-Road Possibilities

Nissan sent us a fully loaded two-wheel-drive Pathfinder in Platinum trim. We would have preferred the all-wheel-drive for evaluating its off-road chops, but that was not to be. In any case, Nissan may call the system 4WD, but it is not as it lacks a locking rear differential.

Nonetheless, on paper, the system does a decent job of managing the dusty trail. Give credit to a limited-slip differential that shifts power to the rear wheel with more grip. Adjusting the terrain modes (there are seven) for the right condition adjusts this SUV accordingly. The Pathfinder also supplies improved steering, decent handling, and firm braking. It isn’t a corner carver, but almost no crossover is.

In all, based on the data we have reviewed, the Pathfinder can tackle tough terrain. Then again, avoid following that buff Frontier as it tackles stiff inclines and rocky outposts.


2022 Nissan Pathfinder
The PATHINDER lettering is more pronounced than it was with the previous model.

Competitive Set

Every major manufacturer is well-represented in the competitive midsize, three-row SUV segment. And for good reason: crossovers are today’s family vehicle of choice. They are roomy and fairly affordable. Okay, a $40,000 price tag for a decently equipped model may be high, but that is the typical price point here.

In this segment, Kia offers two models: the Sorento and Telluride. You will also find the Hyundai Palisade, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Dodge Durango, and the Mazda CX-9. Not to mention the Subaru Ascent, Volkswagen Atlas, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Pilot. Rounding out the segment are such models as the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, and the Buick Enclave.

Customers have a lot to consider here, thus it is imperative to research, compare, and negotiate with the information at hand.


2022 Nissan Pathfinder logo
A new logo design rolls out for the 2022 model year.

Our Recommendation

The new Pathfinder does not blaze fresh trails, but it is an improvement over the previous model in style, room, and performance. In our mind, the 9-speed automatic transmission is the most welcome change, replacing a CVT that might not match the performance some expect. Especially when towing and playing off-road. We think starting your look with the SV trim is reasonable, although the SL is very well packaged. Add in all-wheel drive and you can expect to pay approximately $43,000 for one.


See AlsoThe Nissan Armada Sails on in a Niche Segment

Photos copyright Stumpwater Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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