Family crossovers are competitive like late-night arm wrestling tournaments between siblings during summer break. In that regard, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder just strapped in for the fierce family fracas.
Whether it does enough to go over the top will be up to buyers later this year.
This year's Pathfinder is a far distant also-ran in the three-row crossover sales melee behind the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe, Chevrolet Traverse, Chevrolet Tahoe...you get the picture. Nissan clearly had work to do considering the Rogue is outselling it at nearly a clip of 4-to-1.
Last overhauled in 2013, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder gets a new grille up front, a new engine behind the grille, a revised package in the middle, and a motion-activated power liftgate in the rear. A central nerve farm adds forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and a surround-view camera system with moving object detection.
The latter of those items may appeal most to families: the lack of advanced safety technology kept the 2016 Nissan Pathfinder from achieving the coveted Top Safety Pick+ status by the IIHS.
We'll tell you that the new engine up front is the most interesting part to us. Nissan swapped its 260 horsepower V-6 for a mildly different 284 hp V-6 with direct injection. Both engines are from the same family for Nissan, but the 2017 engine is significantly different than last year's version—56 percent of the engine is all new, according to a spokesman. The addition of direct injection normally aids fuel economy, but Nissan isn't that optimistic; the automaker has pegged the 2017 Pathfinder to achieve the same EPA numbers as the 2016 version. Last year the Pathfinder managed 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined, according to the EPA.
Up front, the Pathfinder's reshaped nose takes on a deeper wedge-shaped grille and boomerang headlights. Now it bears a closer resemblance to the Murano, than say, the GT-R. The LED daytime running lights are punctuated by narrower headlights and fog lights flanked by more angular surrounds.
Around back, the changes are less dramatic. All-amber taillights bookend a new, motion-activated power liftgate, which is standard on SL and Limited grades.
Inside, the base S models are equipped with standard features including an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, tri-zone climate control, and rearview camera. SV-grade models add power driver's seat and remote start. SL-equipped models leather upholstery, motion-activated tailgate, blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, and a surround-view camera system.
Top-of-the-line Platinum editions include navigation, premium audio, moonroof, 20-inch wheels and the advanced safety suite including automatic emergency braking.
Pricing hasn't yet been announced for Pathfinder models.