Japan’s second-largest automaker is operating in catch-up mode – but after several years of struggle it’s hoping to make some major gains in the U.S. market with a wave of 10 new products set to roll out by the end of this year.
We’ve already seen several, including the new Sentra, Kicks and Rogue. Today, Nissan pulled the covers off two more major updates, including the long-overdue Frontier pickup and the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder. The SUV clearly needed some attention, the outgoing, fourth-generation model in showrooms with relatively few updates since the 2013 model year.
“Thirty-five years after the launch of the original model, Pathfinder has returned to its rugged roots,” said Jared Haslam, vice president, Product and Services Planning, Nissan North America. “Today’s large SUV owners want a vehicle that conveys strength and rugged capability, while using advanced safety and technology features to keep their family safe and comfortable during every-day adventures, and the all-new 2022 Pathfinder is ready to take on those adventures.”
New Nissan Pathfinder opts for a bolder look
It’s been a while since Pathfinder followed the industry trend, migrating from a classic, body-on-frame platform to a more car-like unibody. While the 2022 model takes a relatively evolutionary approach to styling, the goal was to give the ute a “new, bold, more muscular look,” officials said during a media backgrounder ahead of the SUV’s official debut.
The underlying platform underwent what they describe as a “significant update” to improve on-road manners and to give the 2022 Pathfinder a bit more capability off-road – though this ute isn’t designed for serious trail crawling.
Visually, the primary influence was the original, 1986 Pathfinder, according to senior designer Ken Lee. This is no retro model, but those familiar with the old SUV will likely catch the way the 2022 model borrows from details like the chamfered grille and triangular rear windows.
“Now’s the right time for a return to a rugged (design) philosophy,” said Lee, though his team wanted to avoid the solid, slab-like looks some key competitors have lately adopted.
The wheels have been pulled further out to the corners on the new Pathfinder, with a bit more sculpting to the body sides. There’s also a new, floating C-pillar which works well with the 2022 model’s available two-tone roof.
Rugged exterior, more comfortable interior
There are plenty of modern touches, as well, including the LED lamps and the now-familiar Nissan boomerang running light design, though hear “blockier” than on other recent models.
While the intent was to create a rugged looking exterior, “When people step inside they expect a lot of comfort,” said Lee, noting the increased use of soft-touch materials on all surfaces a passenger will likely come in contact with. And there are upscale options like semi-aniline leather, with seven different interior “environments” on the check list. The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder adopts a flat-bottom steering wheel and a floating touchscreen, with metallic accented shapes “bookending” the instrument panel.
The SUV comes in a standard, 8-passenger layout but a 7-passenger model with second-row captain’s chairs is available. So are a 10-way power driver’s seat and a tri-zone climate control.
Buyers can opt for a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, rather than the standard analog gauges, as well as a 9-inch color touchscreen placed high on the IP. Pathfinder also gets an optional, 10.8-inch head-up display for the first time.
The Nissan Connect infotainment system can be paired with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the latter also available in wireless form. And there’s an optional, 13-speaker Bose Premium sound system.
Family-oriented SUV adds plenty of new safety features
The new Pathfinder gets a variety of safety-related features, such as the Around View Monitor that provides a birdseye view of the SUV’s surroundings, as well as optional ProPILOT Assist, a system that is claimed to make driving easier on long trips – though it officially still requires the driver to maintain hands on the wheel. Among other things, it links to Pathfinder’s optional navigation system and active cruise control and can automatically slow the vehicle during sharp curves or at freeway exits.
The Nissan Safety Shield 360 system adds other smart systems, including Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind-Spot Monitor and Lane Departure Warning.
Power comes from a 284-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 mated to a new 9-speed automatic transmission. With 259 pound-feet of torque, the package is capable of pulling what Nissan claims is a best-in-class 6,000 pound trailer load.
Options include two- and four-wheel-drive
The 2022 Pathfinder will be available in both two- and four-wheel-drive. And drivers will have the ability to control a variety of vehicle functions – including steering boost, throttle response and shifts – thanks to a seven-position Drive and Terrain Mode Selector.
Look for fuel economy and pricing to be announced closer to the new Pathfinder’s on-sale date this coming Summer.