Let's be blunt: The 2017 Nissan Pathfinder is a mainstream crossover SUV. It's about the same size as other crossovers, it's engineered like other crossovers, and if you squint hard enough, it looks pretty much like other crossovers. The Pathfinder is playing in a big competitive pool where every fish is a shark.
Nissan is tweaking the Pathfinder for 2017 to give it some distinction in the marketplace. And today, that's an exceedingly tough thing to accomplish.
The current fourth-generation Pathfinder debuted back in 2012 as a 2013 model, so it was time for some updates. The most significant changes are tweaks to the 3.5-liter V6 that powers it. The biggest of these is the application of direct gasoline injection to the famed VQ-series V6. The miracle that is direct injection facilitates, among other things, a higher compression ratio and superior combustion. In short, engine output moves from last year's 260 horsepower to 284. More power is usually good.
Despite the addition of more power, the Pathfinder's fuel economy ratings carry over from 2016 intact. The EPA rates the front-wheel-drive 2017 Pathfinder at 23 mpg combined (20 city/ 27 highway). Add all-wheel drive to the mix and the numbers move to 22 mpg combined (19 city/26 highway).
In other changes for 2017, Nissan has fortified the suspension a bit. The steering is now 11 percent quicker. Nissan also has upped the tow rating from 5,000 to 6,000 pounds. And there have been some touch-ups to the Pathfinder's appearance to make sure no one mistakes the 2017 model for the 2016.
Because it uses a continuously variable transmission, the Pathfinder drives differently than most vehicles in its class. We like that Nissan enhanced its simulated shift points to make it seem more like a regular automatic transmission. And it's available with front- or all-wheel drive.
Nissan offers the Pathfinder in four different trim levels. At the bottom is the S, which practically no one actually buys. Then there's SV, which is livable; the SL, which is the mainstream model and pretty cushy. Finally there's the Platinum, which is full of stuff you don't need but really want.
Additional interior room, however, isn't available on any of them. But at least Nissan has now fitted the Pathfinder with the company's latest touchscreen information and entertainment system on all models.
Let Edmunds help you see if the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder is the perfect crossover for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.