Nissan says the 2022 Pathfinder represents a “return to rugged.” Primarily, that relates to the midsize, three-row, eight-passenger SUV’s new styling, which is tougher looking than the previous-generation Pathfinder’s design. But you need to know that despite its robust 6,000-pound maximum towing capacity and purposeful-looking protective lower body cladding, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder remains more of a soft-roader than an off-roader.
What’s New for the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder?
In a bid to revive the Pathfinder’s fortunes among American families, Nissan redesigns the SUV for the 2022 model year. Highlights include all-new styling, a modified powertrain, and a more responsive all-wheel-drive (AWD) system with enhanced terrain driving modes. In addition, higher-quality interior materials are available, and the new Pathfinder is available with next-generation infotainment and safety systems.
How Much is a Nissan Pathfinder?
This year, 2022 Nissan Pathfinder prices range from the mid $30,000s to about $50,000. Those values include the destination charge to ship the SUV from the Smyrna, Tennessee factory that builds them to your local dealership.
2022 Nissan Pathfinder Trim Levels and Configurations
Every 2022 Pathfinder is a three-row, midsize crossover SUV with seating for up to eight people. It comes with a V6 engine, an automatic transmission, and either front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). Four trim levels are available:
Nissan Pathfinder S – The most affordable Pathfinder has gray 18-inch alloy wheels, triple-zone automatic climate control, cloth seats, and a manual driver’s seat height adjuster. Tech features include an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and satellite radio. Nissan Safety Shield 360 is also standard, equipping the Pathfinder S with a generous package of safety features.
Nissan Pathfinder SV – Upgrade to the Pathfinder SV for heated exterior mirrors and roof rails on the outside, while the interior gains an eight-way power driver’s seat and heated front seats. The infotainment system adds NissanConnect Services, while driver-assist systems include adaptive cruise control, active blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assist. The Pathfinder SV also equips the SUV with ProPilot Assist, a semi-autonomous highway driving system.
Nissan Pathfinder SL – Choose the Pathfinder SL for its 18-inch machined-finish wheels, power rear liftgate, leather seats, heated steering wheel, and second-row window shades. The infotainment system has a larger 9-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and a door-to-door navigation system, and this version of the Pathfinder also includes a standard surround-view camera.
Nissan Pathfinder Platinum – The most luxurious Pathfinder features 20-inch wheels, premium quilted leather, ventilated front seats, heated second-row captain’s chairs, and a panoramic moonroof. A 12.3-inch digital instrumentation panel is standard, along with a head-up display, wireless smartphone charging, and a 13-speaker Bose premium sound system.
2022 Nissan Pathfinder Review and Test Drive
Test Drive QuickTakes:
Nissan struggles to define the Pathfinder. Originally, the nameplate graced a traditional SUV with genuine off-roading capability and purposeful, almost artful design, a vehicle that could find paths rather than merely follow them. These traits, combined with exceptional reliability, made the people who bought the first Pathfinders passionate about them.
Since then, a big chunk of the American populace has decided that what they really want to drive are station wagons dressed up like SUVs, vehicles now commonly known as crossovers. So, Nissan built a fourth-generation Pathfinder that attempted to find a middle ground between the two camps. Compromise, though always necessary, rarely results in intense satisfaction.
Now, Nissan is giving compromise another try. The automaker bases the redesigned 2022 Nissan Pathfinder on a modified version of the previous model’s platform, so it remains a crossover with standard front-wheel drive. But it wears styling that the automaker claims is inspired by the 1987 original, and it looks more rugged than before. The interior adopts more industrial forms, too, while Nissan kicks the technology and luxury up a notch.
Will this new formula succeed where the 2013-2020 Pathfinder struggled? We’re going to find out soon enough, but based on a week spent driving the new Pathfinder, my position is that Nissan has a few things left to sort out.
For this 2022 Nissan Pathfinder review, we test-drove the Platinum trim in Southern California. It came with AWD, extra-cost two-tone paint, running boards, floor mats, and a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $52,435, including the $1,225 destination charge. Nissan provided the vehicle for this Pathfinder review.
2022 Nissan Pathfinder Review: The Design
Consumer satisfaction studies show that if people don’t like a vehicle’s styling, they’re unlikely to show up at the dealership. So bland design, especially following the legendary Lego-inspired third-gen Pathfinder, likely was a significant contributor to the public’s “Meh” reception of the fourth-gen version of this SUV.
With no more than a glance, it’s obvious the new 2022 Pathfinder intends to put the model on the right styling path. Though it shares the same wheelbase as the previous Pathfinder, the new Pathfinder is wider, longer, and taller than the vehicle it replaces. The standard wheels are gray 18-inch alloys, with a 20-inch design optional for the SL trim and standard on the Platinum model. We recommend skipping the optional running boards. They’re expensive and unnecessary, serving no apparent purpose other than to pad dealership profits.
In addition to a more modern interior design with added room for people and cargo, the new Pathfinder boasts improved materials, steps taken to reduce interior noise, and available ambient lighting. Nissan also added storage underneath the bridge-style center console and a smartphone shelf in front of the front-seat passenger. However, the storage box under the center armrest is not very roomy.
Overall, Nissan lays out the Pathfinder’s controls logically, and the company employs a mix of knobs and buttons for the main infotainment menu, stereo, and climate controls. Unfortunately, some have gloss black surfaces that suffer reflections and glare, making them harder to read and use.
Nissan installs its Zero Gravity seats in the new Pathfinder, inspired by science conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). That’s a fancy way of saying they’re supposed to be super-comfortable, and they are, but the front chairs offer no lateral support whatsoever. Instead, you’ll end up bracing your leg on the hard plastic door panel in any right-hand corner taken with more than moderate speed (or left-hand corner if you’re the passenger).
Cloth, leather, and premium quilted leather upholstery choices are available. Triple-zone climate control is standard, and you can upgrade the Pathfinder with heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. A panoramic glass sunroof is also available, but it’s not as large as what you’ll find in some of the Pathfinder’s competitors.
Most trim levels include a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, but if you want height adjustment for the front passenger’s seat, you’re out of luck. The first thing my wife said after entering the Pathfinder Platinum was: “How does an SUV costing more than 50 grand not have a seat-height adjuster for the passenger?” (She hates to feel like she’s sitting on the floor.) The driver already feels low in the Pathfinder despite the 10-way power seat, and this sensation is even more pronounced for the passenger.
Aside from that omission and the lack of lateral front-seat bolstering, there were a couple of other things to note about the Pathfinder’s comfort. First, after it sat for a while on a hot day, the smell coming from the test vehicle’s air conditioning vents was horrible, as though mold was forming with less than 4,000 miles on the odometer. Additionally, it appeared the seat leather on the driver’s seat was stretched and puckering.
Moving on to the rear-seat accommodations, second-row captain’s chairs are standard with Platinum trim and include a removable center console between them. A second-row bench seat is standard in other Pathfinders and is a no-cost option for the Platinum.
The Pathfinder’s rear doors open wide to make entry and exit easier. Feeling like they’re mounted stadium-style in relationship to the low front seats, the second-row captain’s chairs are comfortable and supply plenty of legroom and thigh support. The door panel armrests have dual cupholders molded into them, and with SL and Platinum trim, the Pathfinder includes rear side-window sunshades. All that’s missing is a smartphone storage pouch on the front seatbacks.
Nissan provides an EZ-Flex one-touch second-row seat function to access the third-row seat. It releases, tips, and slides the outboard seats out of the way, and does so somewhat violently, so make sure your head, face, and glasses are clear before using it. The feature works on both sides of the SUV and even when child safety seats are installed. Unfortunately, the resulting pass-through is not all that wide.
Once you squeeze into the third-row seat, the second-row seat returns to its position but stops mid-track, so it doesn’t crush your legs. From there, you can adjust the second-row seat position depending on the situation.
Based on my assessment, you can carry six adults in a Pathfinder, but the people in the third-row seat get no thigh support, and, with the second-row center console installed, there is limited legroom. Exiting is difficult because no grab handle is available on the middle roof pillar. Also, in our test vehicle, the floor was an uneven mess of plastic panels and carpet seams, so don’t stumble on your way out.
Around the back, a power liftgate is available and can come with a hands-free function. When it rises, it exposes a 16.6 cubic-foot cargo area. There is also a storage bin under the floor that measures 1.9 cu-ft, and the deployable hooks to carry plastic grocery bags are a nice touch. If you keep the third-row seat folded down, you’ll enjoy a generous 45 cu-ft cargo space. Maximum cargo capacity measures 80.5 cu-ft.
2022 Nissan Pathfinder Review: The Technology
Nissan equips the 2022 Pathfinder S and SV with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system featuring satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. In addition, NissanConnect Services is standard, starting with SV trim, and provides free 30-day access to a Wi-Fi hotspot. Otherwise, owners enjoy a six-month complimentary trial to services such as remote engine starting, automatic collision notification, SOS emergency calling, Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, and more.
Starting with SL trim, a 9-inch touchscreen is standard, along with a connected door-to-door navigation service and wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity. (Android Auto still requires a cable between your device and a USB port.) The Pathfinder SL also has a useful surround-view camera.
The top-of-the-line Pathfinder Platinum has an appealing 12.3-inch digital instrumentation screen, a 10.8-inch head-up display, and wireless smartphone charging. A 13-speaker Bose premium sound system is also standard with Platinum trim, and unlike many Bose audio systems, the one in the Pathfinder sounds pretty good.
Overall, the infotainment system works well with one big exception. In the test vehicle, the voice recognition system proved utterly useless. Even when I used the exact language shown on the screen as a suggestion – “Navigate to Starbucks” – the digital assistant could not understand the command. When I asked to navigate a hospital, the system offered me directions to whatever address was stored as Home in the system. I had to speak the exact command suggestion shown on the display to change a radio station, or it wouldn’t work.
Needless to say, you are going to want to run Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and forget about using the onboard voice recognition system.
Beyond that issue, Nissan fumbles lots of little user experiences that create minor, momentary irritations because things don’t work the way you expect them to. For example, the test vehicle’s engine didn’t always start with a push of the button, presumably because I didn’t push for long enough. The electronics would come to life, but not the engine.
Switching to safety features, every 2022 Pathfinder has Nissan Safety Shield 360. This driver-assist and collision avoidance system package includes automatic high-beam headlights, forward-collision warning with cyclist and pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and a rear automatic braking system.
Additionally, a driver monitoring system and a Rear Door Alert system are standard. The Rear Door Alert feature reminds the driver not to lock and leave the Pathfinder without first checking the back seat. Don’t worry; it only activates if the rear doors are opened and closed before starting and driving the SUV.
Safety upgrades include Blind Spot Intervention, Intelligent Lane Intervention, and ProPilot Assist. These are active features that add steering assistance to the blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. In addition, with SL and Platinum trim, a Navi-link technology can automatically adjust the Pathfinder’s speed for upcoming curves, freeway interchanges, and exits based on navigation system data.
During the evaluation, I found Navi-link an irritation that turned the SUV into a rolling traffic cone. Also, ProPilot Assist struggled to differentiate construction pavement scars from lane markings and, at one point, attempted to nudge the test vehicle into a row of orange traffic cones. In another instance, ProPilot Assist allowed the Pathfinder to drift too far left in a bend in the freeway, making the motorist in the adjacent lane nervous. Finally, moderate traffic revealed a tendency for the system to brake too suddenly when other vehicles cut into the gap ahead.
To be fair to the Pathfinder, these same problems crop up with the driving assistance technology in other vehicles. Generally speaking, these technologies perform best on flat, straight, well-marked stretches of pavement. Otherwise, you’ll often find yourself either second-guessing or struggling with the tech.
Most of the week that I had the Pathfinder, I kept many of the systems turned off because the SUV was better to drive that way. That included the rear automatic braking system, which was incompatible with the angle of my driveway. It seemed that no matter how slowly I reversed into the street, the SUV would autonomously slam on its brakes before entering the street.
Surprisingly, the new Pathfinder does not earn a Top Safety Pick crash-test rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). So, where did things go off of the rails? The SUV’s front head restraints earn an Acceptable rather than a Good rating. That is highly unusual but is symbolic of the rough edges Nissan needs to hone to make the new Pathfinder more competitive.
2022 Nissan Pathfinder Review: The Drive
The Pathfinder’s 3.5-liter V6 engine carries over from the previous-generation model, making 284 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 259 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. Wisely, Nissan ditches the previous Pathfinder’s unloved continuously variable transmission (CVT), swapping it out for a nine-speed automatic transmission with electronic shift control.
Nissan sources the new transmission from ZF, which explains the Pathfinder’s tendency to roll a little bit after putting it in Park. I have personal experience with this transmission, which Acura used in an MDX my family previously owned. That Acura did the same thing, and my SUV once rolled into a valet’s leg at a restaurant. I recommend engaging the Pathfinder’s Auto Hold brake-holding function to prevent it from moving when you park the SUV.
Pathfinders with standard front-wheel drive will be able to find paths to the mall, and that’s about all. A new all-wheel-drive system is optional, and Nissan says wheel-slip is no longer necessary for the AWD to engage. Additionally, Hill Descent Control is standard on all Pathfinder AWD models, and new Sand and Mud/Rut terrain modes presumably improve the Pathfinder’s off-road capabilities.
Unfortunately, ground clearance still measures a measly seven inches, and the new Pathfinder’s approach and departure angles are shallower than they were on the previous-gen model. That means the redesigned 2022 Pathfinder is even less capable off-road than before. I can attest that you will want to stick to flat and level terrain in this SUV. I smacked the test vehicle’s front air dam into the ground twice, despite keeping my speed to a crawl during an off-roading excursion that required travel over hardened ruts.
So, since the new Pathfinder is best used on pavement, how does it perform in that environment? The short answer is better, and here’s why.
Nissan increased the use of high-strength steel in the Pathfinder’s architecture by 50 percent. Additionally, the redesigned SUV boasts up to a 28-percent improvement in front and rear roll stiffness and a new rack-mounted, dual-pinion electric steering system for reduced steering effort. The SUV also has a wider track and wider tires.
The Pathfinder feels wide, low, and stubby from the driver’s seat. I can’t describe the sensation better than that. Also, nothing is engaging about driving the Pathfinder. The SUV isn’t sloppy, but it’s not athletic, either. There is no joy baked into this vehicle’s driving dynamics, making it an appliance you use to get from Point A to Point B.
The V6 engine supplies plenty of power for the task at hand, and compared to the old CVT, the new nine-speed automatic is a blessing. The standard towing capacity is 3,500 pounds, but you can upgrade that to 6,000 lbs. On my evaluation loop, the powertrain beat the official Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy estimate of 22 mpg in combined driving, returning 22.5 mpg.
As far as the ride quality goes, the Pathfinder feels firm at slower city speeds yet blazed over local speed humps at 35 mph without excessive body motion or bottoming out the suspension. The Pathfinder Platinum’s ritzy interior sets you up to expect a quiet ride, so the amount of road sizzle entering the cabin is off-putting.
Handling on mountain roads is decent. Undulating pavement causes some unwanted lateral and longitudinal weight transfer, but otherwise, the Pathfinder Platinum offers secure cornering up to a moderate limit.
Nissan needs to upgrade the Pathfinder’s brakes. On several occasions, they heated to the point where audible grumbling and a brake-pedal vibration were evident. And don’t blame me for abusing them. One of those times, ProPilot Assist was doing all of the driving while descending a mountain grade. Repeated use, even on level stretches of road, results in this behavior. And while they didn’t exhibit fade, what happens when this SUV is packed with people or has a boat and trailer attached to it? They don’t inspire confidence.
There was another instance of dynamic concern. After shooting photos, I needed to accelerate from dirt onto the pavement of a road where traffic flows at 60 mph. During this exercise, the Pathfinder lost power, and I noticed a flashing warning signal on the instrumentation. However, when I looked down to see what was flashing, the warning was gone, and the SUV was accelerating again. I don’t have any idea what triggered the behavior.
Later, on the evaluation loop, I tried a wide-open-throttle acceleration run from a gravel shoulder onto the pavement. This time around, the Pathfinder immediately engaged AWD, demonstrated excellent grip, and quickly accelerated up to speed.
Is the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder Worth Buying?
Generally speaking, it seems like Nissan didn’t spend enough time driving, poking, and prodding the Pathfinder’s competition while it crafted this new SUV. Either that or Nissan’s various product development departments aren’t talking to one another often enough. The result strikes me as a smattering of unrelated engineering, technology, and design elements rather than a tightly curated collection of components that complement one another.
Nissan also faces a challenge concerning marketing the Pathfinder. It is arguably the least capable off-roader in the model’s history. Yet, Nissan is trying to capture some of the magic of the rugged 1987 original to separate the new Pathfinder from the pack. Unfortunately, the new Jeep Grand Cherokee L now dominates the space Nissan targeted by marrying legit off-road capability with a class-leading 7,200-pound maximum towing capacity.
Plus, Nissan isn’t going above and beyond with ownership perks to attract customers to the Pathfinder. When a Hyundai Palisade offers a lengthy standard warranty, a free three-year trial to connected services, and complimentary scheduled maintenance for three years, most automakers wishing to gain market share in this segment need to consider at least one of those types of programs.
With those caveats, yes, the new Pathfinder is worth buying if you love the styling, the interior, and how it drives in the situations that define your life. But it is not a standout in its segment.
Nissan Pathfinder Competitors for 2022
There is no shortage of midsize, three-row SUVs designed to serve American families, and many of them pose a serious challenge for the new Nissan Pathfinder. Rivals include the Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Kia Telluride, Mazda CX-9, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander, and Volkswagen Atlas.
Nissan Pathfinder Features
Built in Tennessee, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is more appealing and competitive than it was before. In addition to its new styling, the 2022 Pathfinder offers comfortable front and second-row seats, a strong V6 engine with significant towing capacity, a competitive safety package with favorable crash-test ratings, and lots of room for cargo.
2022 Nissan Pathfinder Safety Features
- Nissan Safety Shield 360 – Standard package of driver-assist and collision avoidance systems
- Rear Door Alert – Standard feature reminds the driver to check the back seat before locking and leaving the Pathfinder
- Blind Spot Intervention – Available feature actively tries to prevent an unsafe lane change*
- Intelligent Lane Intervention – Available lane-keeping assist feature steers the Pathfinder back toward its lane when the SUV wanders*
- ProPilot Assist – Available feature combines adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assistance to provide semi-autonomous driving on highways. The driver must hold the steering wheel.*
2022 Nissan Pathfinder Technology
- Infotainment system – Standard 8-inch and an available 9-inch touchscreen
- Smartphone integration – Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- NissanConnect Services – Available connected services system*
- Navigation system – Available feature including door-to-door directions via a smartphone app*
- Head-up display – Available feature projects driving data within the driver’s field of view*
2022 Nissan Pathfinder Specs
- 3.5-liter V6 engine
- 284 horsepower, 259 lb.-ft. of torque
- 9-speed automatic transmission
- Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
- EPA fuel economy ratings: 22 mpg to 23 mpg in combined driving
2022 Nissan Pathfinder Interior
- Triple-zone automatic climate control – Standard feature
- Leather seats – Available feature (premium leather for Platinum trim)*
- Heated and ventilated front seats – Available features*
- Heated rear seats and steering wheel – Available features*
- Premium sound system – Available 13-speaker Bose audio system*
*Availability is subject to specific trim level selections