The last half-decade of updates to the Nissan Pathfinder has been a wild roller coaster ride. The Pathfinder has undergone so many changes and updates in such a short time that you might think the current model is an entirely new nameplate that was recently released by Nissan. However, the truth is that Nissan is just knocking it out of the park when it comes to making the Pathfinder purr in all the right ways and finding all the right paths to the hearts of shoppers visiting a Nissan Pathfinder dealer.
But this all comes back to Nissan’s intent to make the Pathfinder as inviting as possible to SUV shoppers. The inclusion of so much content and so many new features in such a short period of time makes it a standout SUV in its segment. But just how much has the Pathfinder actually changed since Nissan began rolling out back-to-back updates with the 2017 refresh? It’s time to find out.
Three Visual Updates
The Pathfinder has been around since 1985, but it wasn’t until recently that Nissan kicked development into high gear. The first major changes arrived with the fourth generation in 2013, when all sorts of new technologies were added, from a continuously variable transmission and hybrid powertrain to an all-new infotainment system. But it was near the tail-end of the fourth generation when Nissan began exploring a different direction for the Pathfinder.
The 2017 model year saw a refresh that brought more angular headlights, a sportier housing for the fog lights, and an ever so slightly more aggressive front fascia. The Nissan’s trademark “V-Motion” grille saw further refinement, and the rear fascia was also updated. The tail lamps were given a more pronounced look and fit in with the bolder stance that Nissan seemed to be going for with the refreshed Pathfinder.
The next update would arrive with the 2019 model year just two years later in the form of the Rock Creek Edition. This wasn’t a full refresh like the 2017 update, but it did add some interesting new visual features to the Pathfinder, such as all-new 18-inch two-tone aluminum alloy wheels, along with black cladding around the base and fenders of the vehicle. The iconic V-Motion design is also blacked out. Black door handles and unique badging were also added to the Pathfinder Rock Creek.
The third major change came with the 2022 model year and the introduction of the fifth-generation Pathfinder. The model underwent yet another visual overhaul, this time much more significant than the 2017 refresh or the 2019 Rock Creek Edition. The 2022 Pathfinder has a completely new design, with squared-off lines, a burly front fascia, and wrap-around tail lights. It’s definitely the boldest look for the Pathfinder yet, and it has a much more confident stance thanks to being wider and longer than previous generations. The Rock Creek Edition also made a reappearance for the 2023 model year, giving the Pathfinder some upgraded off-road features.
A New Drivetrain
During the fourth generation, Nissan introduced a continuously variable transmission, replacing the automatic and manual transmission from the third generation. The continuously variable transmission, however, came with many problems and a fair amount of complaints. This set Nissan back in terms of how people perceived the Pathfinder and required some changes to get back in the good graces of drivers scouring their local Nissan Pathfinder dealer for a high-quality SUV.
With the redesigned 2022 Pathfinder, Nissan decided to ditch the continuously variable transmission altogether. There were some obvious cheers from those who love hearing the escalating hum of the revs and the satisfying upshift of gears because you just don’t get the same level of satisfaction from a continuously variable transmission. What did Nissan replace the old drivetrain with? A very capable and very smooth nine-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for those who want to manually control the on-road shifting dynamic.
Three Larger Displays
The Nissan Pathfinder has had a driver display and a basic touchscreen since the start of the fourth generation, along with optional rear headrest video screens. Nissan decided to completely overhaul the Pathfinder with the fifth generation, adding a head-up display and increasing the size of the touchscreen and driver information center. This means that the Nissan Pathfinder now has three large displays to work with at the front of the cabin as opposed to two smaller screens.
The first is the all-new 12.3-inch digital driver information display, a massive upgrade over the previous four-inch digital driver information display. The new driver information display is accompanied by a nine-inch premium HD touchscreen instead of the eight-inch display from the previous generation. The third display is all-new in the form of the 10.8-inch heads-up display for the driver, making its debut with the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder. Once again, it shows how Nissan has rapidly improved the Pathfinder to make it more compelling for SUV shoppers.
A Major Interior Redesign
There are a ton of small changes, additions, and tweaks that Nissan made to the Pathfinder over the last half-decade, from small seating and interior material updates to minor storage improvements. However, the Pathfinder received its biggest interior update with the 2022 model year when the entire cabin was overhauled for the new generation. The new interior reflected the updated exterior, making the fifth-generation model feel even more like a rugged and luxurious vehicle.
The update brought more accessible storage space, a redesigned center console with easier-to-use controls and media access, and a more streamlined passenger space. At first glance, you might not notice the differences. However, the addition of features like accessory storage for the front passenger, and more room for rear passengers, really makes a huge difference. The 2022 redesign also included changes to the interior passenger volume thanks to the wider and longer body. This has actually resulted in over 10 cu.ft. of additional space, with the latest Pathfinder sporting 164 cu.ft. of total interior volume compared to the fourth generation’s 154 cu.ft. of total interior volume.
Big Changes In the Last Half Decade
Some vehicles will go years before receiving any kind of significant update, so it’s rather refreshing to see that Nissan has refreshed the Pathfinder so frequently. It’s no surprise that this three-row SUV is a popular option at Nissan dealers. What’s interesting is that even without counting the actual generational leaps, the Pathfinder’s many refreshes and updates have still been rather significant. From major exterior alterations and new trims to interior changes and infotainment upgrades, the Pathfinder has been on a consistent path of updates and improvements over the last handful of years.
Given just how much love the Pathfinder has received from Nissan in such a short span, it leaves fans of the nameplate excited for what’s to come. We can only wonder how many more changes are set to shape the Pathfinder’s identity over the next half-decade. If the recent changes are anything to go by, followers of the Pathfinder nameplate will likely be in for exciting times ahead. Who knows? We may see the model return to its off-road roots with additional performance features or join Nissan’s growing lineup of electric vehicles.