Used 2016 Nissan Pathfinder Review
Edmunds expert review
With its stylish cabin and respectable fuel economy ratings, the 2016 Nissan Pathfinder is a solid choice for a seven-passenger crossover SUV. But you might find some competitors more appealing overall.
What's new for 2016
The 2016 Nissan Pathfinder is a competent but aging option among midsize three-row SUVs. It parted ways with its truck-based roots for the 2013 model year, beginning a more civilized journey with family-friendly unibody underpinnings derived from the Altima sedan. One result was a notably smoother ride, and the Pathfinder also stood out thanks to its well-trimmed interior and solid V6 power. We still consider the Pathfinder an adequate entrant in this three-row crossover class, but the competition has stiffened considerably in the years since its debut.
The 2016 Nissan Pathfinder is ready for all-season duty with its available all-wheel-drive system.
Build quality and materials inside the Pathfinder remain at the segment standard or above, and there's a competitive suite of features, even if some are bundled into pricey packages. Certain options should frankly be standard, however, especially Bluetooth connectivity, which is unavailable on the base S trim, lacks streaming-audio capability on the step-up SV trim and requires an upgrade for streaming audio on the SL. Even inexpensive small crossovers get Bluetooth by default these days, and they generally get a USB port, too, which the Pathfinder S once again lacks. We also take issue with the Pathfinder's cargo capacity, which is below the segment average despite the vehicle's substantial exterior dimensions.
The truth is that there are newer, more practical and better-driving alternatives that call out the Pathfinder's once-fresh unibody ethos for what it is: old news. We'd start with the roomy and well-equipped Honda Pilot, which is fully redesigned this year, and follow that up with a close look at the perennially popular Toyota Highlander. Both are top picks in this class and have the Edmunds "A" ratings to prove it. The upcoming 2017 Mazda CX-9 will certainly be an alternative worth investigating, while the "B"-rated Dodge Durango offers generous third-row space like the Pilot and dangles the carrot of optional V8 power. The 2016 Nissan Pathfinder is a likable enough crossover, but it ultimately can't keep up with today's best.
Trim levels & features
The 2016 Nissan Pathfinder is a midsize seven-passenger crossover SUV offered in four trim levels: S, SV, SL and Platinum.
Standard equipment on the entry-level S includes 18-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, tri-zone automatic climate control, a six-way manual height-adjustable driver seat (with manual lumbar adjustment), 60/40-split folding second-row seats (with slide and recline), a reclining 50/50-split third-row seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control and a six-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer and an auxiliary audio jack.
The SV model adds foglights (optional on S), automatic headlights, a front tow hook, rear parking sensors, remote start, keyless entry and ignition, an eight-way power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an individual tire pressure display, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a 7-inch central infotainment display, a rearview camera and an upgraded audio system with satellite radio and a USB input (which replaces the auxiliary jack).
The 2016 Pathfinder's interior is generally well equipped, though Bluetooth isn't standard on the base S trim level.
Stepping up to the SL trim level gets you a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert, an adjustable-height power liftgate (with position memory), chrome exterior trim, a heated steering wheel, driver memory settings, a four-way power passenger seat, leather upholstery (first and second rows) and heated front and second-row seats.
Opting for the SL Tech package adds towing preparation (also available separately on SL and SV), an 8-inch touchscreen display, a 360-degree parking camera, DVD playback capability, a navigation system with voice controls and a 13-speaker Bose audio system with Bluetooth audio connectivity. The SL Premium package consists of the SL Tech package plus a dual-pane panoramic sunroof.
The top-of-the-line Platinum model starts with the above features and adds 20-inch alloy wheels, a power-adjustable steering wheel and ventilated front seats. Offered exclusively on the Platinum is a Family Entertainment package that adds a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with dual displays.
A Cold package for the SV trim adds heated front seats (the upholstery remains cloth), plus the heated mirrors and a heated steering wheel.
Performance & mpg
Every 2016 Nissan Pathfinder is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that puts out 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. It uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and can be paired with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive at any trim level. The AWD system includes hill-descent control and a locking center differential that fixes power distribution in a 50/50 front-to-rear ratio, which is useful on dirt roads and in the snow.
In Edmunds performance testing, an AWD Pathfinder went from zero to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds, which is about even with a Durango V6 but trails the new Pilot by a remarkable 1.6 seconds (the Highlander splits the difference at 7.3 seconds). EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 23 mpg combined (20 city/27 highway) with front-wheel drive and 22 mpg combined (19 city/26 highway) with all-wheel drive. In Platinum trim, the Pathfinder is rated at 21 mpg combined (19 city/26 highway). Properly equipped, any Pathfinder can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Standard safety features on the 2016 Nissan Pathfinder include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags that cover all three rows of seats. Rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are standard on all Pathfinders except the base S, which can't get these items even as an option. The SL and Platinum come with a blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert, while the Platinum comes with a more deluxe surround-view camera system that is optional on the SL. That's it for safety technologies, however, so if you want contemporary features like adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, Nissan's got nothing for you.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Nissan Pathfinder AWD came to a stop from 60 mph in 124 feet, again more or less matching the Durango V6 (125 feet) but trailing the Highlander (116 feet) and Pilot (120 feet).
In government crash tests, the Pathfinder received the top five-star rating overall, with four stars for total frontal-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the current Pathfinder the highest score of "Good" in the small-overlap frontal-offset, moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests. The Pathfinder also received a "Good" rating for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
As a suburban runabout, the 2016 Nissan Pathfinder gets the job done. The 3.5-liter V6 and CVT are responsive enough in most situations, and the gearless CVT's simulated upshifts take some of the monotonous droning out of maximum acceleration. It's still an unconventional experience, however, so we recommend a thorough test-drive to make sure you've got a feel for how the transmission operates.
The 2016 Pathfinder is a smooth and refined cruiser, though it feels less responsive around turns than some rivals.
On pavement, the Pathfinder's suspension does a good job soaking up bumps and road irregularities to create a smooth, stable ride. However, if you choose a Platinum model, which has 20-inch wheels, the ride is noticeably stiffer. Although the steering is light and precise, handling is not a strong suit for the Pathfinder, and it feels large from behind the wheel. If you value driver engagement, we'd suggest looking elsewhere, but we suspect most Pathfinder buyers won't view this as a significant weakness.
A big part of the 2016 Nissan Pathfinder's appeal is its attractive cabin. High-quality materials give it a decidedly premium look, especially in the top Platinum trim level. The gauges and controls are easy to find and operate. We're especially fond of the 8-inch touchscreen: There's nothing particularly flashy about it, but it's very user-friendly and offers helpful redundant controls adjacent to the screen.
The Pathfinder's second-row seats are pleasantly spacious, and they slide and recline for a custom fit.
Both front- and second-row occupants will find their seats comfortable and supportive. The second-row seats can slide fore and aft and recline for greater comfort, and they'll slide forward even with a child's car seat in place, eliminating the need to remove the car seat in order to get people into the third row. When unoccupied, those seats also slide farther forward than those of most competitors. Unfortunately, once you're back there, third-row leg- and headroom trails that of many competitors. Only children or small adults are likely to be comfortable.
The 2016 Pathfinder also has just 16 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row. With the second- and third-row seats folded flat, it offers a useful but comparatively modest 79.8 cubic feet. Most competitors offer more maximum space.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.