2018 Nissan Pathfinder

2018 Nissan Pathfinder Review

The Pathfinder offers rugged utility and plenty of features for an agreeable price.
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Versatile, roomy and even somewhat rugged, the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder checks several boxes for shoppers looking for a three-row crossover SUV. It's got a classy, upscale interior and a V6 engine with plenty of power for towing. The Pathfinder strikes an excellent balance of quality and utility.

After some substantial upgrades in 2017 — among them, new engine technology for more power, fortified suspension and steering, and increased towing capacity — the Pathfinder carries into 2018 with only a few changes. One of them is noteworthy, however: The automatic emergency braking safety feature, previously available only on upper trims, joins the base model's standard equipment.

There's also a new Rear Door Alert, intended to remind the driver of people, pets or objects that might still be present when the driver exits the car. It works by registering whether the door was opened before a trip but not reopened at the end of that trip or ignition cycle. It's a nifty feature that proves its worth with just one use, and it comes standard on all Pathfinders.

The Pathfinder also offers one of the sharpest infotainment interfaces around. The 8-inch touchscreen looks great and is supplemented by an intuitive dial-and-button controller (although its vertical location on the center stack makes less sense than down on the center console near the shifter as with many rival systems). On the downside, the Pathfinder offers relatively compact cargo capacity and utility compared to others.

None of this detracts from the Pathfinder overall, though. It elevates the humble family SUV to something slightly less than luxury, but more upscale than utilitarian. It's a happy middle ground, backed up by some real capability, that makes it worth a look for anyone considering a three-row crossover.



What's new for 2018

After last year's significant updates, the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder offers a few minor changes, although one is notable: Automatic emergency braking now comes standard on all trim levels. Other enhancements include a rear-seat reminder system, additional USB charging ports, and expanded availability of the Pathfinder's Midnight Edition appearance package and adaptive cruise control system.

We recommend

The base Pathfinder S trim comes reasonably well-equipped. But we'd recommend the SL trim for its power passenger seat, leather upholstery, heated front and second-row seats, blind-spot monitoring and a power liftgate. All are great features worth the extra investment. The extra features exclusive to the Platinum trim are nice but somewhat frivolous.



Trim levels & features

The seven-passenger 2018 Nissan Pathfinder is offered in four main trim levels: S, SV, SL and Platinum.

The base S comes with a range of essential features and nice surprises, starting with a 3.5-liter V6 engine (284 horsepower, 259 pound-feet of torque) paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive comes standard, but a four-wheel-drive system is optional and includes hill descent control and a special four-wheel-drive locking function for extra traction.

Highlights of the S trim's standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, tri-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, keyless ignition and entry, a 60/40-split folding second-row seat (which also slides and reclines), Bluetooth, an 8-inch touchscreen interface, and a six-speaker sound system with HD and satellite radio, a CD player, dual USB media inputs and two additional charge-only USB ports for rear passengers. Automatic emergency braking also comes standard.

The SV adds helpful features including automatic headlights, foglights, rear parking sensors, a power-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. An optional All Weather package offers heated front seats, along with heated side mirrors and steering wheel. A navigation system, driver safety aids (including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control), Nissan telematics services and a trailer hitch receiver are available with the optional Tech package.

Moving up to the SL, our recommended trim, adds the features from the SV's All Weather and Tech packages, as well as leather upholstery, a power liftgate, a top-down 360-degree parking camera system, a power-adjustable passenger seat, heated second-row seats and upgraded interior trim.

The optional SL Premium package adds 20-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a 13-speaker Bose audio system and a trailer hitch receiver. You can also order the SL with the Midnight Edition package, which adds blacked-out 20-inch wheels, side mirrors, roof rails and other cosmetic elements.

Finally, the Platinum bundles all the previously mentioned options with 20-inch wheels, LED headlights, ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel and wood interior trim. A rear seat entertainment system with dual 8-inch headrest displays is optional for the Platinum only.



Driving

The Pathfinder's suspension and steering were sharpened up for the 2017 model year, making the SUV more controlled in turns and more stable over a bit of rolling, undulating road. Ride quality suffers a bit as a result, however, especially in the Platinum trim.

Comfort

The Pathfinder is quiet, smooth and well-appointed. Comfort is one of its best assets, with impressively adjustable seats and generous second-row room. Ride comfort suffers a bit with recent suspension upgrades, but it's most obvious in the top-trim Platinum with its large 20-inch wheels.

Seat comfort

The front seats offer a wide range of adjustment, and both are heated and ventilated in Platinum trim. The generously sized second-row seats slide, recline, and split and fold in a 60/40 configuration. Third-row space is merely adequate for adults, however.

Ride comfort

The Pathfinder has a controlled ride that is only sometimes punctuated with harsh impacts from roadway seams or potholes. This is more pronounced with the 20-inch wheels standard on Platinum models or optional on SL trims. We recommend avoiding them.

Noise & vibration

The Pathfinder is an exceptionally quiet SUV, whether accelerating hard or cruising at steady highway speeds. Wind and road noise levels are also low.

Interior

Appealing design, user-friendly controls and tech, and materials that match, or beat, those in the competition help set the Pathfinder interior apart from the rest. Textures and touches, while not exactly luxury, look and feel suitably classy.

Ease of use

The infotainment system is intuitive and easily navigated, thanks to large, well-labeled buttons, a chunky control knob and an excellent 8-inch widescreen display. The climate control and other systems are similarly well-designed.

Getting in/getting out

Exceptionally large doors and convenient seat height make getting in and out a breeze. A clever sliding and folding second row affords good access to the third row, even with a child's car seat in place.

Roominess

You can't tell from the outside, but there's a surprising amount of room inside the Pathfinder. The rather sleek SUV shape offers nearly the space of a boxy minivan. There's plenty of head- and legroom and shoulder room for first- and second-row passengers.

Visibility

With so many headrests and pillars to peer around, it's a good thing parking sensors and a rearview camera come standard. The top-down, 360-degree parking camera system on the upper trim levels is useful and worth getting.

Quality

Among other things, the Pathfinder's SL and higher trim levels come with leather upholstery, which raises the perceived quality. In a test Pathfinder, we found tight panel gaps, solid buttons and knobs, and blemish-free paint. It rates as well as some competitors and better than several others.

Utility

Despite its roominess, the Pathfinder trails some rivals for overall utility. The front center console lacks useful storage nooks and spaces found in other crossovers, and overall cargo capacity is only average. But the Pathfinder does boast one of the higher tow ratings (6,000 pounds) in its class.

Technology

The Pathfinder's 8-inch touchscreen ranks high among rivals, backed with crisp graphics and fast response times. A good amount of useful tech (parking sensors, optional navigation) starts at the SV trim level. Automatic emergency braking is a welcome standard feature at the base level.

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.