Right now there’s a pre-production 2022 Nissan Pathfinder parked in front of my house. I’m one of only a handful of people outside of Nissan who has had the chance to drive this model yet, although I’ve had it for less than 24 hours.
And if you care about cars enough to read about them regularly, you’ll see some pretty positive reviews of this new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder. Automotive journalists are seeming to lump it near the front of the pack of SUVs, but maybe not quite in the lead. They’ll wax on about the new 9-speed automatic transmission, which replaces the old, mediocre continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). And no doubt, the improved exterior lines and use of interior space will grace the pages. And yeah, I’ll get into a little of that in a moment, too.
But having driven this new SUV for a very short time, I already have a major statement to make. The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder may be the ultimate long-distance road trip car…ever? Hear me out.
Space Meets Technology
Have you ever driven across Nebraska? If so, you’ve dreamed about an autonomous car that would let you nap through the endless cornfields that are the Great Plains. Well, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is not that. But well, it’s as close as I’ve ever experienced.
The model I tested, the 2022 Pathfinder Platinum 4WD, comes equipped with ProPILOT Assist with Navi-link. While not entirely new (it launched in the 2021 Nissan Rogue), this is the first time you can get it in an SUV capable of carrying up to 8-passengers in epic road-trip comfort. And even though I drive a lot of very new vehicles for testing, this is the most effective, maybe even aggressive, adaptive cruise control I’ve ever experienced. And to me, it’s what set the Pathfinder apart from the many other vehicles I’ve driven in the past year.
I’ll talk more about this system in a second — it deserves some ink as it’s pretty wild — but we should also talk about interior space. The ultimate road trip vehicle needs to be both roomy and comfortable, and the 2022 Pathfinder checks those boxes in spades.
Yes, I tested the top-level trim that carries a hefty $50,290 price tag including destination and handling. But even so, it’s clear that Nissan upped its game on interior design. The completely redesigned interior has 10.6 cubic feet more volume more than the previous model. It also has gorgeous, soft leather trim everywhere, climate control for all 3-rows, a massive 10.8-inch Head-Up Display, and a 12.3-inch digital dashboard for the driver and front passenger.
In short, it gives everyone inside a comfortable space to exist while eating up mile after mile.
ProPILOT Assist with Navi-link
Ok, this is what I really want to talk about, because it’s what really grabbed my attention during test driving. I mean, this is an SUV with 284 hp, 3.5L Direct Injection V6 and Intelligent 4WD. It has a 7-position Drive and Terrain Mode Selector to make things really easy. It handles fine and accelerates to 60 in under 7 seconds. It’ll handle modest off-road driving with the right tires, but this is no off-road vehicle. Shoot, Nissan doesn’t even mention its clearance in its product specs (it’s 7.1-inches, for the record).
All this is saying that, to me, this is a vehicle that should just work. And it does, driving easily through city traffic or on the highway. But initiate ProPILOT Assist with Navi-link, and things get very different.
“It’s like a ghost is driving the car.” That’s what I said, aloud, while making voice notes during my drive. And really, it is. The car pretty much drives itself, while allowing the driver to input some control or override the vehicle easily. And driving in slow-and-go highway traffic on one of America’s more notorious stretches of interstate, I got a heck of an education.
The system works like other adaptive cruise controls, maintaining distance from traffic ahead and keeping you in the lane. But things get wild when you come to a curve. Thanks to the link to navigation, the vehicle also slows for curves. It recognizes speed-limit changes and upcoming curves, exists, and road junctions, and slows down as necessary. And if the speed limit climbs, it lets you know, so all you have to do is tap a button to accelerate. Other capabilities include a stop-and-hold feature, which means you can sit still in traffic for up to 30 seconds without reengaging the system.
While this isn’t all entirely new for Nissan, it is new in the Pathfinder. And given the size and comfort of this SUV, it makes a compelling case for one of the top road-trip vehicles you can buy. I can imagine zipping across Kansas, comfortable in the cooled driver seat, foot on the dead-pedal, listening to a podcast through the Bose stereo while maintaining an alert view of the road, but without the stress of constantly having to give the car input to stay on track. And my crew of friends or family would be comfortable riding along with me.
2022 Nissan Pathfinder Review: A Great SUV, But Not An Offroader
Is the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder perfect? Probably not. It manages a 6,000-pound maximum towing capacity on some models, which is enough for a lot of boats and trailers. It also has a direct coupling 4WD system, which allows torque transfer directly on the clutch pack using oil pressure. The brand claims this gives “confident, immediate take-off in low-traction situations.” I didn’t have a chance to try this, but it sounds useful. Mode selection – Standard, Sport, Eco, Snow, Sand, Mud/Rut and Tow – is displayed as a pop-up notification on the center cluster.
Fuel economy2 is rated at 21 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined for 2WD models. For 4WD models, fuel economy figures are 21 mpg city (20 mpg Platinum), 27 mpg highway (25 mpg Platinum), and 23 mpg combined (22 mpg Platinum).
Would I drive the Pathfinder off-road? For your normal dirt road, get-to-the-trailhead kind of driving, sure. It should handle some ruts and crud just fine. But it’s not a particularly rugged-feeling vehicle even though its new styling is much more truck-like than the outgoing model.
But for those who carry lots of people over long distances, this is a solid SUV. It should be high on the list if your normal driving includes a few passengers and modest amounts of gear.