$21,171 - $32,278

2017 Nissan Pathfinder Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder was new.


Performance: 7.6

Overall, reviewers are tepid about the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder’s performance. They note that the driving dynamics aren’t very impressive, and the ride may be a bit too firm for some tastes. However, the V6 engine is formidable, with decent acceleration, excellent towing capacity, and slightly above-average fuel economy.

  • "The redesigned engine and suspension mean the Pathfinder is far more entertaining than its predecessor from behind the wheel, and there's lots of utility in its three-row crossover design." -- AutoWeek
  • "Dynamically, the Pathfinder doesn't feel particularly engaging. On both city streets and the highway, the three-row SUV drove a lot like a minivan, and I could feel its size. It didn't take well to curvy roads, as the transmission has no realistic deceleration feel, and its suspension borders on soft but comes off unpolished." -- New York Daily News
  • "And a brief drive on a surprisingly challenging off-road course proved the Pathfinder could do more than just mosey down the boulevard." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 Pathfinder is only available with a 284-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a continuously variable transmission, which functions like an automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional. Fuel economy is estimated at 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway for FWD and 19/26 mpg city/highway for AWD models, which is slightly above average for the class.

The 2017 Pathfinder has good overall engine power, with some upgraded mechanical components for 2017 that help that cause. Acceleration is strong and the Pathfinder now boasts 6,000 pounds of towing capacity, which is better than most other vehicles in the class.

  • "A new engine with increased power should help. Under the taller hood of the Pathfinder is a revised 3.5-liter V-6 engine making a robust 284 horsepower (up from 260 hp) and 259 pounds-feet of torque (up from the old model's 240 pounds-feet). It provides for strong acceleration, both from a standing start and at highway speeds. It's mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission, which acts like a traditional geared transmission when you really put your foot into it - under hard acceleration, it creates artificial ‘shifts’ instead of the constant smooth rush inherent to CVTs." -- Cars.com
  • "One thing that didn't need much work was Pathfinder's power delivery. Its 3.5-liter V6 provides a good full-throttle jump off the line, and the CVT automatic transmission kicks down quickly for more passing power. " -- Consumer Guide
  • "Thankfully, the re-engineered 3.5L V6 delivers as promised. We found it to be responsive, delivering excellent acceleration--both from a stop and in passing situations--and while we still aren't completely in love with CVTs, we'll grudgingly admit that this particular drivetrain pairing works pretty darned well." -- Left Lane News

Handling and Braking

The Pathfinder delivers only modest handling and is not overly engaging to drive. It does, however, feel planted to the ground around curves, with little leaning. Some test drivers think ride quality is a little harsh for the Pathfinder’s target customer, but others think the ride is comfortable.

  • “While steering performance has definitely improved, with dramatically better feel and feedback, the greater firmness creates a bumpy, unsettled ride quality that doesn't match the sedate family-hauling mission of the Pathfinder. It does remain flatter in cornering, with improved body control over the outgoing Pathfinder. But that newfound poise has come at the expense of ride comfort, a quality that may be preferred for family use." -- Cars.com
  • “While it is certainly more car-like and compliant than its body-on-frame predecessor, it's not the first model to spring to mind when we think of 'fun to drive' family cars. The 2017 model addresses that somewhat. The ride is better, for sure. It's more composed and more predictable. The quicker steering is not quite as noticeable as we'd hoped, but it's still an agreeable upside. We were pleased with the comfortable ride and relatively unobtrusive road and wind noise--all pluses for family road-tripping. " -- Left Lane News
  • Nissan also made some adjustments to the chassis to sharpen responses. … The revised steering provides a welcome measure of additional heft and responsiveness. While the Pathfinder doesn't threaten the Mazda CX-9 as the family-size crossover most likely to induce spontaneous bouts of canyon carving, neither does it whine in protest when hustled." -- Car and Driver

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