New Nissan Pathfinder Returns to SUV Roots, and Your Nearby Trails, in 2022

The new Nissan Pathfinder was announced alongside the long-awaited release of the redesigned Nissan Frontier. The new Frontier seems to be a move in the right direction offering a new engine, enhanced appearance, and an updated, but still utilitarian interior.

But has Nissan done enough to the Pathfinder to reverse its dwindling sales? Let’s take a look at the changes to the new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder and what it might mean for overlanders looking to buy a new family-friendly rig. 

READ MORE: CAN NISSAN’S ALL-NEW FRONTIER TOPPLE THE TACOMA AS THE GO-TO OVERLANDING PICKUP?

For a model that has struggled to find its identity since it was essentially replaced by the Xterra as Nissan’s tough SUV, the new Pathfinder is decidedly more handsome and less car-like sporting a larger front grill paying homage to the Pathfinders of old. The headlights and taillights were both streamlined to provide a more modern look on par with most of their competitors. 


Nissan USA

Nissan USA

Strangely, the new Pathfinder retains the same 3.5 liter VQ-series engine that has been around for more than a decade. Although the VQ is in the conversation as one of the best engines ever made, many were expecting the same industry-leading 3.8-liter from the new Frontier that makes over 300 horsepower.

Perhaps the old engine will sing when paired with the new nine speed automatic ZF transmission being shared by the Pathfinder and Frontier in 2022. 


Nissan USA

Nissan USA

The transmission change is the most welcome of improvements compared to the previous model. The CVT transmission offered in the last generation was bad, very bad. The new nine-speed transmission is expected to liven up the driving experience and remove some of the reliability issues experienced in previous generations. 

The four-wheel drive system was updated for 2022 with the addition of a Terrain Mode Selector that allows drivers to select from a variety of terrain types and conditions like Snow, Sand, Mud/Rut, and Tow. Speaking of towing, the team at Nissan claims the new Pathfinder will have best in class towing abilities to the tune of 6,000 pounds (2721 kg). A three-ton towing capacity will allow the new pathfinder to tow your off-road trailer, small RV, and even a couple of motos into the woods. 


Nissan USA

Nissan USA

The interior has been another sticking point with owners in past generations as it looked, and felt, like riding in a base model commuter car from the nineties. The new interior is an extreme improvement on the previous generation by offering a more open-concept design with higher quality materials throughout.

The massive 12.3-inch digital dash dominates the middle of the cockpit, but drives should not be distracted as the most relevant information will be broadcast on the new head’s up display right on the windscreen. 


Nissan USA

Nissan USA

The rest of the interior appears to have been updated to compete with competitors like the Kia Telluride and Mazda CX-9 that offer better-than-average interior experiences. Heated, cooled and fully adjustable front seats are available in an assortment of different materials and colors.

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The Pathfinder is sold as an eight-passenger vehicle with the option to upgrade to bucket seats in the second row that tout tool-less removal. The 60/40 third-row allows for improved storage options when considering adding a fridge or carrying a ton of camping gear. The cargo area with all seats down offers a cavernous amount of room that, according to Nissan, can accommodate a full 4×8 sheet of plywood.  


Nissan USA

Nissan USA

Once a contender at the top of the pack, sales for the previous generation of Pathfinder have dwindled to the near-bottom of the mid-size SUV class only edging out the Dodge Durango in 2019 with 67,000 units sold in 2019. For comparison, the Toyota equivalent RAV4 model sold nearly 450,000 units in the same year.

Although I don’t expect the new Pathfinder to surpass Toyota anytime soon, the 2022 model is a move in the right direction. 


Header photo by: Nissan USA

Overlanding Industry News by Zach Elseman. Follow Zach @okienomads.

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