2018 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum 4x4 Road Test Review
January 10 2018, Trevor Hofmann
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.
New Standard Safety Features Step up Pathfinder's Game
The Nissan Pathfinder received a mid-cycle update last year, giving it more of a traditional SUV design, increasing its power and sharpening up its driving dynamics to good effect. The result has been positive, with more Canadians choosing it over a competitor in calendar year 2017 than during 2016.
The seven-passenger Pathfinder checks off a lot of mid-size SUV boxes for today's active family. For starters it's big on safety, especially this 2018 model that adds standard forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking to a bevy of active and passive safety features that were already part of the basic package, whereas blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is standard in the second of four trims. Also standard across the line, a new rear seat alert reminds of any forgotten valuables in back when leaving the vehicle, this especially important for children and pets.
Other 2018 Pathfinder news includes a new Midnight Edition package that builds on third-rung SL Premium trim and therefore sits just below the Platinum model being covered in this review. Other than commenting on its mostly black trim including the side mirror caps, window surrounds and rear rooftop spoiler, plus its glossy black 20-inch alloys and reasonable $1,000 cost that's all I'll be saying here, although now that I've touched on trim levels I should cover available 2018 trims, which continue forward with the $32,998 base S, the $39,698 SV Tech, the aforementioned $45,198 SL Premium, and top-tier $48,998 Platinum.
Engine Output Stronger yet Fuel Economy Still Best Amongst V6s
Same as last year, all 2018 Pathfinders come standard with Nissan's well-proven 3.5-litre V6, which was bumped from 260 to 284 horsepower and 240 to 259 lb-ft of torque for the 2017 model year, yet nevertheless manages the best fuel economy amongst six-cylinder competitors at 11.6 L/100km city, 8.5 highway and 10.2 combined in standard front-wheel drive trim, 12.1 city, 8.9 highway and 10.7 combined with AWD, plus 12.4 city, 9.2 highway and 11.0 combined in as-tested Platinum AWD guise. This stingy efficiency may have something to do with its standard continuously variable transmission (CVT), an extremely efficient design that provides ultra-smooth operation and reasonably realistic stepped "gear" ratios for a more natural automatic feel.
The Pathfinder doesn't include paddle shifters or even a manual mode, which is fine by me as this is the type of transmission that's best left to its own devices, an "L" for low gear selection the only alternative next to the usual "PRND" selections, although take note that a rotating selector branded "i-4x4" to denote Nissan's Intelligent 4WD system lets you choose between 2WD, AUTO, and LOCK, the latter for getting out of deep snow, mud, sand, or other types of slippery situations. This said the current Pathfinder left its rugged 4x4 persona in the past for model year 2013 when the current generation took on a more refined, roomier, more family- and fuel-friendly unibody car-based crossover SUV design.
This means today's Pathfinder is more capable of comfortable city and highway cruising, not to mention more stable in fast-paced corners, especially since its update last year, its fully independent suspension now slightly firmer, albeit still plenty compliant for a smooth, quiet ride. And this despite its sizeable 20-inch alloys wrapped in 235/55 Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport rubber, these standard with Platinum AWD trim. All other trims get 18-inch alloys encircled by 235/65 all-seasons, which as tested previously do their job nicely, but the 20s provide better grip in the corners for very little tradeoff in ride quality.
Platinum Trim Generous with Luxury and Convenience Features
Additional 2018 Pathfinder Platinum AWD features not available on lesser trims include chrome body-side mouldings, a power-adjustable tilt and telescopic steering column with memory, climate-controlled front seats, open-pore style faux wood-tone trim, tri-zone rear DVD entertainment with dual 7.0-inch monitors integrated into the backside of the front headrests, a remote, two wireless headphones and rear auxiliary audio/video input jacks, and more.
The Platinum AWD also includes most SL Premium features such as welcome lighting, front stainless steel treadplates, reverse tilt-down and memory for the side mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, a navigation system-integrated digital compass, a split-screen display 360-degree Around View parking monitor with moving object detection next to the regular backup camera with dynamic guidelines, great sounding 13-speaker premium audio with Bose Acoustic Waveguide technology, a 120-volt household-style AC power outlet, an eight-way powered driver's seat with power lumbar and memory, a four-way powered front passenger's seat, leather seat and door upholstery, heatable second-row outboard seats, a powered dual-pane panoramic sunroof, a motion gesture-activated powered liftgate with position memory, tow hitch receiver with a seven-pin wiring harness, and more.
Other notable features pulled up from SV Tech trim include AWD, hill descent control, Smart Auto on/off headlights, fog lamps, roof rails, remote engine start, proximity keyless access, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a heatable steering wheel rim, heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, navigation, mobile apps, voice recognition, and NavTraffic, rear parking sensors, blindspot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, individual displays for the standard tire pressure monitoring system, etcetera.
Standard Pathfinder S Provides Great Value for Money
Lastly, not yet mentioned base S features that get pulled up to Platinum trim include heated power-adjustable side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, pushbutton ignition, an Advanced Drive-Assist Display within the primary gauge cluster, an 8.0-inch NissanConnect infotainment touchscreen, a backup camera with dynamic guidelines, Bluetooth with audio streaming, satellite radio, aux and USB ports, micro-filtered tri-zone auto climate control, an overhead sunglasses holder, Nissan's EZ Flex seating system that lets you slide second-row seats forward while a front-facing child seat (sans child) is fastened within, rear door alert, hill start assist, eight cup holders and six bottle holders, eight cargo area tie-down hooks, all the usual active and passive safety features, plus more. My tester was finished in beautiful Scarlet Ember paint, a $300 upgrade, pushing the final total up to $49,298 before freight and fees.
It's large and accommodating too, and as noted the EZ Flex second-row seats make it one of the easiest to get kids in and out of. What's more, second-row roominess and comfort is impressive, while I was even able to sit in the very back without feeling claustrophobic. I slid the second-row as far rearward as possible and was still able to squeeze in without issue, which is pretty good considering my five-foot-eight height and small-to-medium build, but pull the middle row farther forward and there's plenty of space left over for someone larger to move around easily.
As Accommodating for Cargo as It Is for Passengers
As for cargo capacity, the Pathfinder offers up more rear load space than many of its rivals at 453 litres, while if you drop the rearmost 50/50-split seatbacks down you'll have 1,201 litres available along with a relatively flat load floor. Better yet, lowering the 60/40-split second-row results in 2,260 litres of maximum gear-toting capability, making the Pathfinder ideal for the most active of lifestyles.
In the end, the 2018 Pathfinder remains one of the better mid-size three-row family haulers in the Canadian market, with attractive styling, great all-round functionality, good straight-line performance, decent handling, impressive fuel economy, and more top-tier features than most will need.
To find out more about the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder, contact North Vancouver Nissan at 888-450-6443 or drop by the showroom at 819 Automall Drive, North Vancouver.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.