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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A red 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is shown parked by a lake.

Nissan Creates Roadmap for Off-Road Stewardship With New Pathfinder Rock Creek

Off-road-focused crossovers are all the rage at the moment, with countless automakers rolling out new trims to cater to the growing set of drivers who see their vehicles as a gateway to adventure. While it’s easy enough to slap some new badges and all-terrain tires onto an existing model, Nissan is going above and beyond, releasing a new off-road-focused trim of its popular Pathfinder SUV while teaming up with an environmental nonprofit to ensure drivers will be able to enjoy the great outdoors for generations to come.

The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder and its revived Rock Creek trim is the perfect partner for weekends full of hiking, camping, and off-the-grid fun. Designed as an off-road version of the brand’s popular midsize SUV, the Rock Creek trim brings a full complement of rugged equipment to the popular three-row crossover. From an upgraded suspension and new tires to revised fuel mapping and a host of interior upgrades, the Rock Creek trim is an exciting addition to the Pathfinder lineup, giving drivers an adventure-ready SUV that’s not afraid to get a little dirty.

The Rock Creek trim first appeared on the 2019 Pathfinder; back then, it was more about giving the SUV a brooding, blacked-out makeover with dark-finished aluminum alloy wheels, black overfenders, door handles, and interior flourishes. Nissan has overhauled the package for 2023, gracing the new Rock Creek model with a 0.6-inch suspension lift, 18-inch beadlock-style wheels paired with Toyo Open Country All-Terrain tires and all-wheel drive as a standard feature to up the crossover’s off-road utility.

The automaker has also added a little more power into the mix, revising the Pathfinder’s fuel mapping to give the 3.5-liter V6 engine an extra 11 hp and 11 lb-ft of torque when using premium fuel. The interior also gets a makeover, with Nissan including Rock Creek badging throughout the interior, with orange contrast stitching, leatherette and fabric upholstery, and second-row captain’s chairs. These changes might not transform the SUV into a Baja-ready super truck, but with its increased height, knobby tires, 295 hp, and 270 lb-ft of torque, it’s certainly the most capable Pathfinder in recent memory.

A Green Goal

Earlier this year, Nissan announced a partnership with Tread Lightly!, a national nonprofit focused on promoting responsible recreation through stewardship programs and ethics education. Following in the footsteps of other established eco-friendly nonprofits, Tread Lightly!’s goal is twofold: improving access to outdoor recreation while ensuring that it’s done in a sustainable way that doesn’t place undue stress on the ecosystems, their fish, or wildlife. “We want to help take care of recreation areas to make sure they continue to be available to everyone for whatever your escape may include, be it camping, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, trail riding or off-roading,” says Mike Colleran, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Nissan U.S.A.

Nissan will place an increased focus on outdoor activity as part of its promotional campaign and team up with Tread Lightly! on a number of environmental stewardship projects. The automaker will begin the effort in its own backyard, focusing on projects in Mississippi and Tennessee, where it has a sizable manufacturing presence. The collaboration kicked off at the Delta National Forest near Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi Vehicle Assembly Plant, where the two organizations partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to clear trees and repair water-damaged forest roads. The area was hit with significant flooding in recent years, endangering access to the only bottom-land hardwood national forest in the country.

In the months since the partnership was announced, the two organizations have been hard at work, most recently teaming up for a project at the Durham Trail System in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. The project saw 22 volunteers from Nissan’s Decherd Plant, along with Tread Lightly! staff and two managers from the Lula Lake Trust spend two days cutting new mountain biking trails. Working together, Nissan and Tread Lightly! managed to hand-cut an additional mile of mountain biking trails, an effort organizers estimate would have taken ten times as long without the volunteer push.

“As a nonprofit, Lula Lake Land Trust naturally depends on dedicated volunteers who believe in our mission statement of conservation, education, and low-impact recreation and Tread Lightly! helped us achieve exactly that,” says Daniel Roberts, Community Engagement Coordinator for the Lula Lake Land Trust. “We are extremely grateful for their help in organizing a team of hard workers from the Nissan Decherd plant to come out for two full days of digging in the dirt, which helped us get closer to being finished with our 15 miles of multi-use trails for future generations to enjoy.”

Tips for Off-Roads Stewardship

The Nissan and Tread Lightly! effort is an inspiring story of industry stakeholders and environmental nonprofits coming together to achieve a common goal, but what can the average driver do to help out? Tread Lightly! Executive Director Matt Caldwell recently shared a few of his tips for responsible off-road recreation with Roadtrippers magazine, providing an easy blueprint for those looking to improve access to outdoor activity for future generations.

These tips range from doing plenty of pre-trip research to taking a course in off-road and recovery-driving basics. While a lot of off-roading might take place on public lands, that doesn’t mean they’re just free-for-all zones where anything goes. Many public lands still have dedicated trails for off-road driving, and while it might be tempting to blaze your own trail, the long-term effects can take a real toll on the surrounding ecosystem. The U.S. Forest Service provides motorized vehicle use maps (MVUM) for most public lands, detailing when, where and with what types of vehicles drivers can scratch their off-roading itch.

The next tip should be familiar for any driver who’s spent time in the Boy Scouts: carry in, carry out. A common refrain among hikers, the same ethos doesn’t always extend to the off-road community. It might be a hassle to lug all your waste, especially food, along on an extended off-road journey, but there are a few ways to make the responsibility easier. Spare tire trash packs are relatively cheap and easy to find, attaching directly to a 4×4’s exterior-mounted spare tire and allowing drivers to keep the trail clean without stinking up the cabin. Pro tip: remove all excess packaging from your foodstuffs and other supplies before you hit the trail, and consolidate your pantry into reusable, resealable containers. Not only will this reduce the amount of trash you create during a trip, but it’ll also reduce your cargo’s overall weight and bulk.

Safety is also an important part of responsible off-roading. While it sounds like a personal issue, it comes down to a matter of resources. An off-road rescue can be expensive, taxing resources that might otherwise be spent on trail maintenance, signage, and informational resources, among other things. Next time you head out for a little backcountry fun, make sure you’re well-prepared with a full complement of water, food, first aid supplies, sleeping bags, and sun protection; and that’s just for the people riding in the vehicle. A well-stocked off-road vehicle should carry extra fuel, tools, and a recovery kit with tow straps, rope, jumper cables, and recovery boards.

Lastly, Caldwell advises drivers to stay active in their local off-roading community, sharing tips with other drivers and participating in volunteer clean-up and restoration events like those organized by Tread Lightly! These projects range from building fences, installing signage, cutting new trails, and removing fallen trees and other obstacles. If you’re looking for such events in your area, head to the Tread Lightly! website to volunteer and connect with other environmentally minded off-roaders.

Nissan Is Helping the Off-Roading Community With More Than Just Great Vehicles

In partnering with Tread Lightly!, Nissan is setting a great example for environmental stewardship while also promoting the off-roading lifestyle. It’s a strategy we hope to see other automakers emulate in the near future, one that not only addresses a real need but also guarantees ongoing access to popular off-road destinations. The campaign is the perfect complement to the release of the Pathfinder Rock Creek trim, which transforms Nissan’s popular three-row SUV into a legitimate off-road contender.

If you’re looking for a more adrenaline-packed off-road fix, Nissan has you covered with the Frontier PRO-4X, an off-road-ready version of the brand’s marquee pickup that’s even more primed for some rough-and-tumble adventures. No matter which model you choose, you’ll enjoy the ride all the more for knowing that your purchase is helping to fund these types of environmental initiatives.

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