What Is It?
Nissan was a pioneer in the sport-utility vehicle segment, long before SUV even became a common acronym. The Pathfinder originated 35 years ago and it has come a long way from the original 2-door truck-based model. All-new for a brand-new model year, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder features a roomy, attractive interior, impressive capability, new technology and rugged looks influenced by the original 1987 model.
The automaker provided us with a 2022 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum 2WD, painted in Obsidian Green Pearl. As the top-level trim, Pathfinder Platinum has a long list of standard features including a 12.3-inch driver display, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a panoramic moonroof, a Bose premium audio system and 7-passenger seating with second-row captain’s chairs. The only option on the test vehicle was the Lighting Package for a total MSRP of $48,390. Competitors to the Pathfinder are numerous and include the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Dodge Durango, Honda Pilot, Mitsubishi Outlander and Subaru Ascent.
The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder gets a more rugged design with squared-off lines that move the model away from a somewhat bulbous outgoing version. Sporting an updated edition of Nissan’s familiar V-Motion grille — a frontal feature found on almost every model in the Nissan lineup — the Pathfinder gets standard LED headlights that sit flush with the bodywork and flank the grille, while slim LED daytime running lights wrap around the hoodline. The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder includes a three-bar grille in tribute to the first-generation Pathfinder.
When viewed from the side, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder clearly possesses classic SUV proportions although with smoother edges; the hood slopes slightly forward while the roofline slopes slightly rearward. Our test vehicle featured two-tone paint — available for the first time ever on Pathfinder — which enhances the SUV’s floating roof motif. Bold fenders in a style similar to Nissan’s new Rogue crossover provide a powerful stance, further emphasized by the 20-inch wheels found on the Platinum.
Slim LED taillights wrap around pronounced corners at the rear of the new Pathfinder, connected by a dark bar with a centered Nissan logo. Observers will not be mistaking this vehicle for any other thanks to the name PATHFINDER spelled out in large satin-chrome lettering — a favorite among new design elements.
Nissan designers incorporated major improvements to the Pathfinder cabin for the 2022 model year. Overall the design is cleaner with more open space than the outgoing model, centered around a large touchscreen display mounted high on the dashboard. A new electronic gear selector takes up less room and opens up the center console for more storage, as well as accommodating additional storage below.
In the top-level Platinum, the 9.0-inch center display and 12.3-inch digital driver’s display create a high-tech look in the cabin. With fixed digital buttons as well as physical buttons for audio and map, feature access is simple and intuitive. Climate controls are kept separate and have an easily discoverable interface for seat heating/cooling, the heated steering wheel and rear climate control.
The new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is available with the latest version of ProPILOT Assist, Nissan’s driver-assist technology that uses adaptive cruise control and steering assist to aid in acceleration, braking and steering — both in heavy traffic and on the open road. Although the system isn’t quite autonomous driving, it is a step toward the inevitable addition of an autonomous driving option. The system performed surprisingly well on our drive from Nashville, Tennessee, to Louisville, Kentucky.
The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum tester came fitted with seats trimmed in soft semi-aniline leather with heating and cooling. After spending several days traveling more than 400 miles behind the wheel of the Pathfinder, we can assuredly state that the seats are impressively comfortable and able to keep soreness and fatigue at bay even after multiple hours on the road. And while driving in Kentucky and Tennessee during the summer months, we especially appreciated the SUV’s fast-acting seat ventilators.
The Pathfinder offers plenty of utility in terms of cargo-carrying capacity, especially with the third row folded flat. However, even with all seats in use the new Pathfinder still has enough room for two carry-on bags and two backpacks behind the third row. The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder also has a hidden storage area below the cargo floor, with available dividers to better organize items kept out of sight. Made of hard plastic, this storage area can be easily cleaned, making it a great place to stash muddy gear after a day of adventure.
Under the Hood
Although the design of the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is all new, the engine remains unchanged from the previous generation. Power comes from Nissan’s proven 3.5-liter V6 producing 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque. However, Nissan ditches the previous Pathfinder’s CVT in favor of an all-new 9-speed automatic transmission, which provides more responsive shifts as well as improved performance over the CVT. Towing capacity remains unchanged at an impressive 6,000 pounds.
The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder 2WD is rated at 21 mpg city / 26 mpg hwy / 23 mpg combined. According to the trip computer during our time with the new Pathfinder, we managed 27 mpg during highway driving, even at speeds above 70 mph. Over the 400-plus miles of mixed city and highway driving we averaged 23 mpg.
On the Road
During the few days of driving in both urban and rural locations, Pathfinder remained well-mannered by offering both a smooth, solid ride at high speeds and easy maneuverability at low speeds in cities and tight parking lots. The large display rearview camera with overhead view is beneficial for getting the SUV out of tight spots, and we also appreciate the rear cross-traffic alert when backing up, especially out onto busy roads.
The overall ride of the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is surprisingly quiet, making it much more pleasant on road trips than the previous version; however, on extremely rough surfaces loud road noise can infiltrate the cabin. During our drive from Nashville to Louisville, we employed Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist which operated seamlessly, pacing the car in front and passing after determining if the vehicle ahead was slower than our set speed, then smoothly accelerating as we changed lanes to go around.
Automatic Transmission vs. CVT
Since we are not big fans of continuously variable transmissions, we were pleased to learn that Nissan decided to replace Pathfinder’s CVT with a proper 9-speed automatic transmission, and it proved to be a great decision. The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder has strong acceleration with the new transmission providing quick, smooth upshifts and downshifts. The new unit gives Pathfinder better on-road feel, and provides a more confident, satisfying ride.
The purposeful updates to the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder are noteworthy, and based on the attention the vehicle received during out time with it, the new looks are a big success. At our hotel in Nashville, the valet driver who brought the Pathfinder up to the entrance gushed as she handed over the keys, “Is this the 2022 Pathfinder? It looks great!” As we were leaving, another hotel guest flagged us down to say he hadn’t seen one yet and was suitably impressed.
Three-row crossovers comprise one of the most competitive vehicle segments in America, making it difficult for any one vehicle to get garner much attention. The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder will certainly get noticed with its classic SUV styling, roomy interior and high-tech convenience and safety features. With admirable power, plenty of utility and a new 9-speed automatic transmission, the Pathfinder has enough qualities to stand out as a solid option for SUV shoppers.