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By Katrina Ramser Parrish
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

One of my top picks for a seven-row SUV, when fully loaded the Pathfinder achieves a level of space and comfort parallel to what you’d find with an entry-level luxury brand – an endless list of technology, highly crafted seats, and improved performance are just a few highlights.

I drove a 2017 Nissan Pathfinder with a 284-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine paired to the automatic XTRONIC continuously variable transmission system and Intuitive four-wheel drive featuring a selectable two-wheel drive and lock option. Available in four trims – the base S, SV, SL and Platinum – my Platinum test drive came with the following standard features: leather upholstery; EZ Flex seating system; eight-way power driver’s seat; heated and cooled front seats; heated second row seats; push-button start; tri-zone climate control; panorama moonroof; NissanConnect with Navigation and an eight-inch monitor; Bluetooth; Bose premium audio system; advanced driver assist display; rear sonar park system; power liftgate; Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection; Blind Spot warning; Rear Cross Traffic Alert; tow hitch with trailer harness; roof rails; fog lights; and larger twenty-inch alloy wheels. Total vehicle price as described came to $42,070 without options.

The 2017 model took on some significant changes, including an addition in horsepower for the 3.5-liter, better towing ability, and a larger display screen. While Nissan can often be slow to making defining changes with some of their vehicles (the Frontier comes to find), the Pathfinder is the brand’s crowning jewel and its stays competitive with the Honda Pilot, Dodge Durango, Toyota Highlander, Mazda CX-9 and Kia Sorento.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: Posh remains the key descriptor of the Pathfinder’s well-constructed interior with cleverness close behind thanks to a smart second-row sliding system for rear seat access. While cargo depth is a few inches shorter than some competitors, you still get 79.8 cubic feet of it with the second and third-row down (47.8 with just the second row deployed). The Pathfinder also excels in the technology department with a bigger display screen, improved graphics, and continued ease of use. Only the Platinum trim can opt for the Family Entertainment Package that adds a rear DVD player and HDMI ports.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2017 Pathfinder earned “Good” crash-test ratings from every category with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and is a Top Safety Pick. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) give its a 5-Star rating. The Pathfinder’s standard safety equipment includes a rearview monitor, Vehicle Dynamic Control, LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), Electronic Brake Force Distribution, and an advanced airbag system. Step up from base S to the SL and you will get many safety tech features like Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Cost Issues: The base S trim starts at $30,290 with my loaded Platinum trim at $43,785. A base 2017 Acura MDX starts at $43,950 with a recent fully loaded test drive at $56,400 – convenience and luxury does have an extra cost.

Activity & Performance Ability: Nothing but great news when on the road: the revised V6 operates quite impressively; the shift points with the transmission are smoother with no strain or drone; and the suspension and steering have been tweeted to please. The four-wheel drive works on a dial system easiest enough for any driver to understand. For a three-row SUV, the dimensions are manageable with an agreeable turning radius and that Around View offering a 360-degree parking feature comes in handy.

The Green Concern: Nissan boasts a fuel economy of 19-city and 26-highway for a combined 21 miles-per-gallon – the best I got with an even roadway mix was close to 20 miles-per-gallon. The Acura MDX’s 3.5-liter engine with all-wheel drive retains 19-mpg city and 26-mpg highway for a combined 22 miles-per-gallon - they will soon launch a new Sport Hybrid with an exciting 26 miles-per-gallon combined (released to the public at a later date).

Nissan made a bold decision to turn the once-rugged Pathfinder into a highly desirable three-row crossover, offering all the technology and refinement consumers seek in entry-level luxury brands – the maker deserves kudos should use this success as a model to breath more consumer interest into their lineup.

©2017 Katrina Ramser Parrish

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