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2017 Nissan Pathfinder - How Did It Drive Steve? +VIDEO

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Driving Impressions

By Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

We had an opportunity to preview the new, mid cycle-refreshed Pathfinder last summer at an event in Detroit after which fellow editor Thom Cannell and I did a detailed story on that lovely three-row crossover. Now we’ve had an opportunity to spend some time behind the wheel at a California event to introduce some other Nissan products getting a better sense of the CUV’s driving dynamics Here is our original 2017 Nissan Pathfinder Story: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder Story


Thom will provide his own driving impressions – but here are mine:

First of all, this third-generation CVT (continuously variable transmission) that gave us pause does a fine job, better than we might have expected. Nissan’s “D-Step Logic Control causes it to act like a conventional transmission by simulating gear changes. Unless you put your foot in it and hold it there you’ll not even guess it's a CVT. Nissan pioneered the mainstream use of CVTs in the face of some criticism, and they have stayed ahead of the curve in the development of that technology.

Thom was concerned that on the off-road course the transmission might not integrate itself with the driving assistance functions as well as a conventional automatic transmission might. While we did not do any risky, Jeep-trail sort of maneuvers the through-the-woods trail prepared for us tested ground clearance (a modest 7 inches with no skid plates on the underbelly), down hill decent control, and selectable all-wheel drive lock-in function.

While you won’t want to challenge the Rubicon you would be able to drive the trail up the Rubicon’s access point to spectate.

On the open road the new Pathfinder is as quiet and sophisticated as anything in its class, and there are many that compete in the mainstream three-row category. Like all the others each updating includes more sound deadening features, better materials and ergonomic improvements. As one who reviews a lot of cars, I would give the Pathfinder’s cockpit functions – intuitiveness of controls and functions, seating comfort, design interest, creative use of space and overall ambiance a good, solid B+.

Ride and handling reflect the focus of the Pathfinder, that is, smooth, quiet and under control. It is firm enough with decent road feel and enough power that enthusiastic drivers should not be disappointed. These three-row crossovers, meant to be more SUV-like are meant to take a step beyond the soccer-mom van while maximizing the functionality. The Pathfinder does that well, though you’d not confuse it for a traditional SUV.

We did not put enough miles on the cars to accurately assess the fuel mileage but there is no reason the think it would be outside the EPA estimates. With the higher compression radio, new direct injection and a variety of other engine enhancements the extra horsepower and torque do not hurt fuel mileage, which remains 20-mpg in the city, 27 on the highway and 23 combined.

Competition in this segment of the market is intense with Toyota Highlander, Mazda CX9, Dodge Durango, GM entries (Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Chevy Traverse), Ford Flex and others vying for attention. Little difference separates these products, as they are all very good. You can do the feature-by-feature comparisons right here on The Auto Channel.

Nissan’s freshened Pathfinder competes well head-to-head with any of these.

© Steve, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

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