The Pathfinder rolled into 2023 on a high note after Nissan refreshed the model and shifted gears for 2022.
But the three-row family competition’s already fighting back with the Toyota Highlander undergoing a refresh along with the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride receiving updates as well.
The Pathfinder’s TCC Rating of 6.7 out of 10 trails those rivals, but the numbers don’t tell the full story.
After spending a snowy winter week with the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder, I was reminded why it’s worth considering for many families. Here’s where it hit and missed.
Hit: Retains V-6 power
For 2023, the Toyota Highlander ditched its V-6 engine in favor of a turbo-4 with similar power. Traditionalists who appreciate naturally-aspirated power delivery and a bit more bravado for the ears will appreciate the Pathfinder’s 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. It’s a smooth operator with power that builds as the revs climb. None of that business of the turbo kicking in and suddenly shoving the vehicle forward.
Miss: Three-zone climate sync confusion
The Pathfinder features three-zone climate control, which is a handy feature when the kids, significant other, and driver all want different temperatures. But hitting the sync button on the dashboard doesn’t fully sync all three zones. In a convoluted process to sync all three zones you must enter the rear climate control settings by hitting the “rear button” then hit sync, which will sync the rear to the front. If someone changes the temperature in the rear this process needs to be done again. Syncing the front two zones requires one push of the sync button.
Hit: Well-calibrated safety tech
Most new vehicles feature advanced safety features powered by cameras and radar sensors. In foul weather, these sensors go offline quickly once snow or ice build up on the sensors. Once offline, the dashboard lights up like a Christmas tree screaming, “Systems offline!” None of that happens in the Pathfinder. Nissan’s done a commendable job calibrating the system so it never freaked out during a snowstorm. Both Subaru and Honda should take notes.
Hit and Miss: Snow mode calibration
During the Minnesota snowstorm, I messed around with various modes and the Pathfinder’s Snow mode is impressive. I say this because my $54,785 Platinum model rode on 20-inch wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Alenza tires. Those tires are luxury truck tires meant to be quiet and comfortable on the highway. They are typically terrible in snow and ice, except on the Pathfinder. Flipping the Pathfinder’s powertrain into Snow mode recalibrated the transmission, throttle, and stability control system so dramatically the wheels never slipped.
But Snow mode’s programming swings too far. It neuters the power so much it takes deep stabs at the throttle to get the Pathfinder moving. The Honda Pilot’s Snow mode is better calibrated in terms of power delivery while remaining sure-footed in the white slippery stuff.
Miss: Heated steering wheel lacks memory
The top-spec Platinum Pathfinder features a heated steering wheel, which worked great to keep my hands toasty warm. But unlike the heated seats, which turned back to the same setting as when the car was shut off, the heated steering wheel had no such memory. Other cars, including my wife’s 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, have a memory for both the heated seats and steering wheel and both will turn back on to their last state of use upon key cycle. The Pathfinder needs this.
Bonus hit: Second-row slides and tilts
Unrelated to winter weather but impossible not to reiterate in a Pathfinder review, this is one of the few vehicles on the market that features second-row seats that slide and tilt. It enables the second row to be tilted and slid forward to access the third row without removing a booster or kid’s seat. The last-generation Pathfinder had it and it carried into the latest model. The Ford Expedition has this feature.
The Pathfinder isn’t as flashy, trendy, or up-market looking as the Telluride or Palisade, but it’s worth putting on the three-row SUV consideration list for its snowy capability and convenient features.
2023 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum 4WD
Base price: $36,295, including destination
Price as tested: $54,785
Powertrain: 284-hp V-6, 9-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
EPA fuel economy: 20/25/22 mpg
The hits: V-6 power, well-calibrated safety tech, Snow mode, slide-and-tilt second-row seats
The misses: Three-zone climate out of sync heated steering wheel memory, Snow mode
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