2018 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum 4WD Review

Earlier in the summer, I test drove the 2018 Mazda CX-9. A three row SUV that is tailored to bigger families. This is a segment that has been growing in popularity, replacing the less handsome, but slightly more practical minivans. I have been curious to see how Nissan would approach this red hot segment. Luckily, few weeks ago, I was given the chance to test drive the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder, courtesy of Nissan Canada. Below is my unbiased review.

In Nissan's 2018 current lineup, the Pathfinder is larger than the Rouge and the Murano, but smaller than the Armada. It received a face-lift in 2017 that includes a new fascia with restyled headlights and taillights. The new grille is now consistent with the rest of the Nissan lineup.

It retains some of the muscular, boxy look of the early generation Pathfinder, but appears slightly more fluid and modern. The front of the car is assertive and composed with big headlights and a sharp belt line which continues to the side of the car. This is my favorite angle of the car. The side profile looks a little rear heavy in my opinion, but it also allows for much bigger interior space. The back of the car consists of a giant life gate and prominent taillights. Chrome ascends can be seen on door sills, around the grilles, and door handles. They add some visual cues to the otherwise simple design.

You can tell that Nissan's approach to the Pathfinder's exterior design focuses more on practically. It is a not a bad looking car by any mean, but it also doesn't draw too much attention. Compare to the sharp styling of some of its rivals, it is obvious that Nissan has a different focus.

The pragmatic approach continues to show in Pathfinder's interior design. The center console looks slightly dated with big rounded buttons and plastic looking knobs. On the other hand, they provide great tactile feedback and are easy to find while driving. A combination of faux wood and chrome trims dominates the rest of the front cabin. The front seats are quite comfortable - both heated and vented.

The Pathfinder maintained a segmented look, separating the front cabin with the rear two rows. There is no decorative trims in the rear cabin. Black, textured plastics are used extensively instead. The second row position is more forward than some of its competitors, this allows the third row to have more legrooms. The second row seats are heated. They also collapse when pushed forward, allowing bigger openings to enter the third row.

The third row is more spacious compare to its competitors, in part, thanks to the rear heavy exterior side profile. I would say that it is still slightly cramped for an adult on longer rides, but should accommodate teens with no problem.

It is clear that Nissan's design choice is to make the interior space as practical, and durable as possible. After all, that is what a 3-row SUV is all about. However, some of its competitors are starting to make cohesive and modern looking interior, without sacrificing too much practicality.

The Pathfinder is equipped with an 8.0 inch touchscreen display that is bright and responsive. The graphic interface looks slightly dated, but very usable in operation. There is also an array of buttons and dials below the touchscreen. They can be slightly complicated, and sometimes redundant. But once you get used to it, they are easy to locate while driving.

There is an information display in the instrumental cluster between the two analog dials. It is tilted for better visibility. The array of information that can be display is comprehensive. It is interacted by the buttons and switches on the wheel.

There are two LCD displays behind the front head rests, that come in handy to keep the kids entertained on longer rides. There is an HDMI input and two audio jacks to plug in headphones, so the rear passengers can enjoy a different set of audio track. Our top of the line Platinum package comes equipped with premium audio that sounds excellent. The infotainment system of the Pathfinder is certainly enjoyable for most families.

Safety and Driver Assistance
The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum is equipped with the following safety features:
  • Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Traction Control System (TCS)
  • Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS)
  • Front seat belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters 
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System 
  • Intelligent Emergency Braking
  • Rearview Camera with 360 degree parking view
Above the SV Trim you also get:
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Blind Spot Warning (BSW)
It earns 5 star safety rating from NHTSA. What is new this year is a rear-seat alert to remind parents to check the back seats for children and pets before leaving the car. It is a thoughtful feature to prevent accidental death due to extreme weather.

The Nissan Pathfinder is powered by a 3.5L V6 that produces 284hp of power and 594 lb-ft of torque. It also adopted a CVT all wheel drive system. The CVT is equipped with D-Step Logic Control that simulates shifts for a more natural acceleration.

There is enough power for most driving conditions, but the engine can get noisy at times. The maximum towing capacity is at 6,000 pounds (2,722 kg) when properly equipped.

The suspension is smooth, and the ride comfort is superb. There is relatively little wind and road noise coming into the cabin. The steering is quite firm in the straight, but there is a strange feedback in turns that requires constant correction.

The Pathfinder can be heavy on gas in city driving. Although it is rated at 9.4L/100km highway and 12.4L/100km city, during our mostly city driving test drive condition, the fuel economy rating can get up to 17L/100km at times. On the highway though, the figure is closer to the rated number.

Cargo Space & Storage
This is where the Pathfinder truly shines. There is 453L of cargo capacity behind the third row seats. With the third row folded, this number increases to 1354L. With both the second and third row seats folded, there is a whopping 2,260L of cargo space. All the seats can be folded completely flat, and it is very easy to do so. There is also additional storage space under the cargo floor.

Inside the cabin, there is plenty of storage options for smaller items. The center console storage has two levels, and both are big. The lower compartment incorporates two USB charging ports and one power socket. The side door pockets provide plenty of options for bottles and smaller items. Both the second and third row seats have access to more than one cup holder.

All the storage options should be appreciated by both the parents and kids in the family.

The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder may not be the most stylish, or the most fun to drive, but the pragmatic approach to the interior design, and the massive cargo capacity makes it an excellent option for a growing family. Moreover, it has a good infotainment system for the rear passengers, an above average third row cabin space, and a comfortable ride characteristic. Now only if Nissan can design a more modern looking front cabin, the Pathfinder would be one of the top contender in the segment.

Test Vehicle
2018 Nissan Pathfinder Patinum 4WD
51.093 including Freight PDE
Scarlet Ember


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